A gunshot pierces the air followed by the jolt of people to begin running. They are running fast. They continue to run, the pace slowing slightly as the adherent threat seems to be gone and the wincing in their faces ceases as they begin to settle in. I keep running. The runners beside me breathe heavily, and the sound of feet crashing against the ground is intimidating. As we pass the rocky path, my mind begins to drift away from the race, the screaming fans, and everything around me and I realize that this is my senior year and my last athletic race for cross country.
At the beginning of senior year, I was unsure if I wanted to participate in the sport and I ran very little over the summer. Earlier in the year I debated playing golf. I thought it might be nicer to walk a beautiful golf course instead of running six miles for cross country practice. Since it was my first season of tryouts, it was very important for me to succeed and to do well. The tryout process was a preliminary two mile run followed by the finals with the top best twelve runners. I was not as good a runner as the other members of the team, but I managed to push myself and come in fourth out of the sixty students on our team. This feat was due to my competitive nature, and of course, the fact that I didn’t want my peers to beat me.
My competitive nature is something I believe I was born with and over time continued to be nurtured by my involvement in sports and school activities. Each time I lost, I only wanted to work harder to succeed - I always felt I could do better and wanted to challenge myself to push myself and not be defeated. I remember one loss that affected me greatly and that was losing in the State Finals for the Division 3 boys hockey at the Boston Garden. That season was an accumulation of hard work, dedication and a little bit of luck - but losing that game inspired me to keep working to improve my skills and trying to motivate my teammates to do the same.
In many ways running a race is like life. I get out of it what I put in, and if I work hard everyday it will pay off. Over the course of a season runners can watch their times decrease because of hard work and perseverance or watch their times remain stagnant or increase due to injury or lack of effort. I am not that young man that gives up and I always strive to be the best at what I do. As Steve Prefontaine said,“To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.” This phrase has always resonated with me and I know that it will continue to be part of who I am in college and in the future. After all, life to me is like a race and I don’t want to be left behind running down the path not knowing where I’m going. I will always give my best in all that I do from education to athletics. It is just simply who I am.