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Slipping Away MAG
I have always had the dream of winning something, anything, so I decided to be a part of a team that had a chance. When the track coach wanted to experiment with different races to gain more points, I decided to take a chance and try out for the relay team. I made it; Cindy would run the 400, Kim would run the 200, and Susan and I would start the race off by each running the 100.
Then it was the day of the competition at a high school I barely remember. The weather was heavenly and we all were confident that the gold medal would go home around our necks. We had been on fire the previous day and won the prelims, which gave us a small taste of victory. We jogged and did our stretches exactly as we had for previous races. Our practice hand-offs went just as we needed them to.
“Second call for the Girls’ Relay, second call. Please report to the starting of the 100-meter dash,” called the announcer.
The number four on Cindy showed that we were the team picked to win. As I looked to my left and right, I saw enormous, long-legged girls from the other schools with fierce looks on their faces. The clapping and stomping of the crowd made my heart beat faster and my palms sweat, which meant that it was time.
The short, pudgy man in the yellow shirt yelled, “Ladies, head to the starting line. Good luck!”
I took one last look at my teammates and headed down the long stretch of track. Everything felt perfect as I slid my black spikes into the starting blocks.
Wait. Be still. Don’t go over the line. Don’t let go. Wait for it.
At the sound of the gun, my reactions were precise as I sprang from the blocks. My feet danced over the blistering, red turf and with every step I took, my toes sank into the foul-smelling surface. My lungs gasped for air. Everything felt the way it should as I plunged forward. I clutched the baton in my sweaty palm, promising myself not to let go. My legs moved as fast as they could as I hugged the corner of the line. As I came closer to my final steps, my stomach started twisting. The different colors of arrows started to pass under my feet and I knew it was time.
“Reach,” I yelled to Susan, who had to reach for the gold baton.
Susan stretched her arm to grab the baton. All of a sudden the crowd stopped cheering. A pin drop could have been heard; our baton had fallen and we were disqualified.
I don’t know what happened but as I was handing the baton to Susan, who was already jogging, it slipped. In mere seconds, our dream - my dream - disappeared.
“Lane three has been disqualified,” announced the exchange zone judge in a stern voice.
I had let my teammates down. Even after I made the team, even after I tried my hardest, I still had nothing. The blurry image of three swollen-eyed girls approached me and my heart sank. We all sat and cried at the victors. I could feel the crowd staring at me, feeling sorry for the team who “could have.”
As I left the stadium that day, my feet dragged, and my head was low with the image of the baton falling to the ground. Yet, in my mind were the words of my father, “If you don’t swing, you don’t hit.” I had tried, so I was one step closer to my goal.