I am not athletic. I am one of those people who have a hard time walking and breathing. When I was young I fell down a lot, many sprained ankles. My mom always said I was this way because I never crawled as a baby, I went from creeping to walking. I only know for sure that I am not athletic.
When my son was growing up, I tried to give him a positive attitude towards sports. If he wanted to be an athlete then I wanted to be his cheering section. Privately, I worried about him taking after me, and of broken teeth. I didn't worry about broken bones because they heal but broken teeth remain that way.
When he entered the 7Th grade he informed his father and I that he wanted to go out for cross country. I was relieved that I didn't have to worry about the teeth, but still worried about his athleticism. He was growing at lightening speed and his body had not kept pace with his feet. He went out for cross country. I went to his meets as often as possible, I was in college trying to earn a degree in accounting.
By the time he was in ninth grade he was doing only OK at a cross country runner. He never finished in the top five. I was proud anyway. I cheered even if he came in last. His form was bad. The top half of his body always ran in front of his legs. A race always exhausted him. He loved to run.
I was still in college but this one meet was only a couple of miles from school, I made sure I was there to see him run. He told me he didn't want me to come because it was such a hard course and he knew he wouldn't do well. I went anyway. I figured he needed a show of extra support.
The racers lined up, the gun went off, and they all took off. The runners soon disappeared around a bend. Now it was a waiting game for those of us left behind. I don't remember the record time for that course, I do remember that it had been set in 1974.
The course record was broken that day. We were all sitting around chatting waiting for the first runner to be spotted. The shout went out, "Runner coming in." We all got to our feet. The coaches couldn't believe that anyone would be finishing so soon. They were so excited. We were screaming, cheering.
The runner got closer and closer. We could finally see who it was. The coaches couldn't believe their eyes. But I knew. My son broke that long held record. When he came in and ran first through the ribbon I thought I would bust open with pride. He was so winded, so sweaty. It was all I could do not to run over to him and wrap my arms around him, but I controlled my emotions and let his coaches tend to him.
The other runners were still a good 10 minutes out when he ran across the finish line. As they came in they all went up to him and wanted to know what had gotten into him, when did he get the fire in his shoes. Everyone was amazed. I stayed in the background letting him take his accolades. He had earned them. The team won the meet that day.
At the cross country awards dinner that year the team and coaches presented my son with a plaque for that race. It was for breaking a long standing record and for best improved race time.
Nope, I am not an athlete, but my son is.