Ever since I became involved in sports I had always thought of CIF as the place where the best of the best go to compete. I never thought in a million years I would make it there, especially for cross country.
This past weekend, my high school girls’ cross country team (only consisting of five members), our two coaches and a few key members of our support group, made the long haul to Riverside, California. It was an all day event, starting from the early hours of the morning and not returning until well after the sun had gone down. The traffic was horrendous, the dust was suffocating (leaving us with the worst “runner’s cough,”) and the pain felt never ending.
I would do it all over again.
This is a memory I will cherish and I will always be grateful for being given this opportunity. The traffic, coughing and eternal pain, pale in comparison to the memories we made that day. The girls, some I knew from years before and some I just met this year, are now like sisters to me. All the long practices, blisters, sweat, tears and countless times of feeling like our chests were going to explode or we were going to lose our lunches, brought us together in an unexplainable bond.
Running has changed me and made me into the person I am. It has taught me so much more than just how to breathe or use my arms to make it up a hill. It has done more than just help me get into shape. It has been tough and very painful but it has taught me a sense of commitment, strength, and family.
I would have never experianced any of this if it wasn’t for my coach.
Our coach shared with us after the race that we were the first team he’s ever taken to CIF. When he told us how proud he was and how much growth he’s seen in us, it brought tears to my eyes. I have been running for him since my freshman year. I am now a senior and this past race was my final one. This man that I call a coach, teacher, advisor, and friend is the most generous and inspiring man I know. He has been there cheering me on and encouraging me more times than I can count. He is like a second father to me, pushing me to the point that I want to yell back, but always knowing what’s best for me, supporting me to no end. Turning my jersey in means so much more than just an end to a sports season. It is an end to that chapter in my life, but not an end to the friendship that was made. I know that will always be there and he will always be there, cheering me on at the finish line.