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Thank You, Cross Country

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Growing up really is a process of discovery. It seems like every day I stumble upon a new experience or encounter something I never knew existed before. Let me be honest—some of these are experiences I would not want to repeat. In sixth grade I joined a skating club at school and wound up falling, breaking my arm, and bringing down an eighth grader with me. Needless to say, I have not joined another skating club. Other experiences, however, open up a whole new world of possibilities. Cross-country, my first and only sport, was one of those kinds of discoveries—the ones that make trying new things worth it in the end.
Up until this point, I have not been active in life. Not that my childhood and teen years haven’t been full and happy. I used to be happy doing paint-by-numbers, writing in various diaries, taking pictures of flowers; and more recently, updating my Facebook page and driving around town with friends. Although these things still and always will give me pleasure, I had classified myself as a non-athletic person for so long I never would have imagined I’d enjoy being on a team as much as I do.


You see, being on an athletic team is about so much more than physical competence. If it were based on that alone, this experience would definitely have fallen under the “I’ve learned my lesson: Never. Again.” category. No, being on a team is belonging. A team is more than a group of competitive athletic jocks—it’s a support unit of people that care for you and always have your back. It’s a social network much better than Facebook: fore this one will never go out of style. Being on a team creates the kind of connections that I’m confident will last for years. After cross-country, it is likely that all of us will go our separate ways. However if a team mate and I spot each other at a high school reunion once we are old and grown, we will remember, and we will talk, even if cross country is the only thing we ever had in common.
It was probably last Friday that compelled me to dedicate this article to my team. After an easy 2-mile practice in preparation for the Regional meet on Saturday, our team had a meeting in the girl’s locker rooms. We had a hard week because many of us caught a flue going around school; there were practices when only 4 of the 11 team members were present. Knowing that our team was in a state of great doubt and low spirits, Coach Chapman tried her best to snap us out of it. She gave us encouraging remarks and told us that if our hearts were strong, our performance tomorrow would be strong, too. She then told us all to lay down, and turned off all the lights. We listened to a song she put on, called “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus, and cheesy as it may be, it really worked. Although we could see the soft light from the next room, hear Miley’s pop Southern voice, and feel the cold tile beneath us, all that we really sensed was unity. That sense of unity carried us to a third place finish at Regionals the next day.
When I contemplate the end of cross-country, it is with great sadness. This experience helped me stretch myself, helped me grow. Before, I had a certain image of myself—I thought I was in stasis, much like the pictures of flowers I used to take when I was younger. Maybe next time I do a paint-by-number, I wont be so concerned about painting the right colors inside the lines. Who knows what wonderful creation could unfold? Then again, there’s always the risk it could end badly, just like skating clubs. As I take more risks, I grow more and more. I thought I knew what I was good at, and what I wasn’t. But as it turns out, I am more flexible than I ever imagined. Thanks for allowing me to discover and live a great experience. Thank you, cross-country.




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swim4ever said...
Jan. 5, 2010 at 7:09 am:
I feel the same way our cross country 8th grade girl team end of year banquet was so sad thr eight of us will always have each others back no matter what those rainny practices the hot practices the 30 degree confrence meet priceless
Great job and keep writing
 
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