Middle School Track Meet

This past Thursday we had our first middle school track meet since two years ago. In other words, none of our runners, jumpers, and throwers had experienced a meet before. They were all rookies as they surveyed the competition who were in the same boat.

The nerves were quivering at hyper-speed. The hurdles took on the size of eight-foot electric fences. The discus seemed to weigh a ton. Long-jumpers felt like they had lead in their feet.

“Hey! Let’s go out there and have fun! Don’t worry! Just go and do your best and then we’ll have something to go on as we establish goals for our next meet.”

“Coach Wolfe, I’ve never thrown the shot put!” whimpered one girl.

“Neither have I!”, I replied. Her eyes got big. Was I being empathetic or sarcastic? “What’s the worst that could happen?”

“I could lose!”

“No. The worst that could happen is that you never try. Just don’t drop the weight on your foot, remember which direction you’re supposed to throw it, and you’ll do fine.” She nodded her head in partial agreement still halfway in doubt.

“Hey! My college track team had 7 guys on it. We competed in all kinds of crazy events that were outside our comfort zone. I threw the javelin, high-jumped, long-jumped, triple-jumped, ran the mile, the hundred, and a leg of the two-mile relay. It was fun and I’m still alive to talk about it.”

“Will people be watching me when I run?” asked another young lady, hoping that all spectators would suddenly turn their backs and not view her attempt at running half a lap.

“Should I have our announcer ask people to not watch the girl in lane 4?”

“Can you do that?”

“No.”

Smiles emerged from the others in the group. They knew such a request was asinine, the result of an eighth-grade girl’s confused wanting to be seen mixed together with her dread of being watched.

And they did fine! There was the one young lady who hit herself in the mouth with the baton as she ran, but other than that everyone was smiling when the meet finished a couple of hours later. Many of them surprised themselves with their times, jumps, and throws. They didn’t think they were capable, but they found out that their ability was greater than their apprehension.

The next day, one girl who had won every event she competed in wanted to know how many points she had scored for her team. She wasn’t trying to brag. It was actually a revelation to her to realize that there was something that defined her, something that she’s good at. Her older siblings each have their areas where they excel. She had been the uncertain and undefined youngest sibling, a bit discouraged at not standing out in any way. Now her new discovery had traced a smile on her face.

Friday was a day of giggles and the absence of anxiety. They had made it through and not felt out-of-place. They are happy and anxious for next Thursday’s meet. The one girl who was hoping no one would be watching is even okay with momentary glances as long as nobody stares!

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