I so much looked forward to today. The first day of spring practice is always exciting for a Track coach. It's not just a return to the normal routine, but an opportunity to welcome newcomers to the sport and reconnect with the kids you've had on the team for some time. An opportunity to evaluate the fitness level of the team members and project where each fits into the overall scheme. An opportunity to help them first establish and then reach their goals. An opportunity to positively impact their future whether that leads to simply a few months of healthy exercise, a stellar high school and college career as an athlete, or a lifetime of wholesome activity. I'll miss lacing up. For the next three weeks anyway.
The urban dictionary (and I'm not really a big fan) defines "lacing up" as "meaning to get ready and keep on going through the struggles of life." Today that definition works for me. For some of the kids it may not be quite a "struggle." Three weeks of sleeping late, no classes (but study should continue!), and no mandatory practices. To a 16 year old that might sound delightful. But not to all. I've received a number of texts from the distance kids concerned that our season will never take place. I've responded that I am hopeful, even optimistic it will. Those kids will have to "lace up" today.
I've been fortunate enough to live a long life, and in my years lived through many "struggles." Starting in 1952, when the polio epidemic struck nearly 60,000 children, leaving thousands dead and many more disabled. I also remember my mother's constant fear in the early '50s that any of her five sons might contract tuberculosis which had killed more than 30,000. And I lived through the flu epidemic of the late '50s which took over 60,000 lives. But the truth is, I'd forgotten these things until recently. You see, I got through them. And we all will get through this. We'll follow established protocals and deal with the concerns of mothers intent on preserving their childrens health. We'll miss "normal" in our lives. But we'll get through it. If nothing else, I'm living proof that kids are cared for. YOU will get through this!
Don't let anybody tell you, regardless of their age, they forget what it was like to be a kid. We may not remember every name or face or event, but we somehow remember volumes and volumes of what we did to get to this point. Some memories hurt. Most, in my case anyway, are joyful. And for a brief moment today I am imagining I am again 16 years old (with a drivers license and a 1960 Ford Falcon) and wondering how I will quench my thirst for distance running in the face of the region's health "struggle." And today when that 16 year old "laces up" he is heading out for a long easy run. Perhaps he'd call a friend or two and make it a road trip. Returning to training after a multi-week hiatus, he might choose to run along Main Street in Hingham. His starting point could be the Notre Dame Academy parking lot, where years from now he will coach during the week, and on the weekends meet his friends for marathon training. And he will head out in an Easterly direction for a simple out and back of 5-6 miles, followed by a leisurely stretch in the sun before returning to the reality that is the "struggle." Yes, that is precisely what that 16 year old would do. "Lacing up" never sounded so good.
What you do is up to you, really. I can offer suggestions, I can even project my course of action if I were in your "shoes". But only you can create a constructive response to the destructive "struggle" in your path today. I pray that you do.
Hoping to see you "on the road" . . .