"Alright. High school track and field, our first team. Now, why don't we all introduce ourselves." Coach says. Coach is also the gym teacher for every class and the coach for every sport. I don't know how this man does it all. He has us sit in a circle on the track, and he tells us to say our names and one fact about ourselves. I choose my name and my favorite color. The track team is only nine people, the bare minimum. And our shirts were just recycled ones from football season. The basketball ones were in use for the lacrosse people. The lacrosse people were led by the middle school coach, and they were put in with them. The baseball and softball people shared their uniforms too.
Our school has no money for sports. Or clubs. They put all our money into the middle school. The next closest thing we had to one was just extra classrooms in the elementary school. But the students were starting to be shorted a little bit and were too large to be around the little kindergarteners. The four extra classrooms are going to be a gym for them, with a little demolition. The only thing close to a gym was the cafeteria or outside. Very unlucky to be in the outside gym class during the middle of winter. Wish I was in elementary now. But now we were stuck with whatever we could find from past years. The school told us that track and field could be done, but not really possible.
Just as long as we found recyclable items and shirts. But now we were stuck in a team-building exercise. We were already all friends. We just gathered a big group of our friends from lunch to join. Some of us could run, and others couldn't. And that was ok. But not really in the grand scheme of things because we needed to be able to run. Coach started it off and then had us all go around. Then we took two laps around the track as a team. All week we practiced after school. Some of us started to improve on running. And others left the team by day five. But I was in it for the long run. I knew that running I could do. Running, I was able to run. But Monday afternoon, I was not in my same groove. I was so upset. I just wanted to do it. Our first track meet was soon.
But I could barely run a lap without too many mistakes. I lost my groove. Fell out of touch during the weekend. Tuesday, our track meeting, I was benched. I was so upset. I knew I had to get my groove back. Wednesday, I went to Coach. I had to get some advice. He put me out on the track and he timed me. He showed me some ways to make me faster and by the end of that, I was better, but not as good. Every day for two weeks, rain or shine I would practice, with or without Coach. And I knew that there was an improvement. I was not benched after that, and I went back to helping the team. I was in my groove. But our last track meet was approaching. Our principal told us if we didn't go to the county races, then we would no longer get to do track.
Coach has us worried. He doesn't come to practice every day, and instead sends his assistant. The assistant is not the same as him. We try harder for him. We are so important to him. He relies on our successes so that he can keep his job. He cares about us so much. I practice without him every morning at this point. But in the middle of practicing by myself, it sometimes felt like Coach was there, or he was watching me. We tried our hardest on this track meet. We had to do well as the track and field team. The team felt so different with Coach not being there. In the beginning, it was fun with him. Now it was about winning. But luckily, the track meet went well. And we placed well.
Luckily, we made it. That entire week we trained harder and longer than ever before. There was so much riding on this. The principal had told us if we were not in the top three, then we would be lucky to do it next year and never again. And he would kick Coach from all his sports. Early that Saturday morning in the county, I start by going for a run. I'm my current average. I get ready and I start to prepare myself to go. My parents drop me off and I start with some stretches. Coach pep talks us, but he is clearly scared to lose. We all know what is riding on this for all of us. we knew deep down we were the underdogs. But we were still here, and we still had a good, fair chance. Matches go on, and we are tied for first. I was in the last race of the day. I get positioned.
And then I hear Coach's voice. "Have fun! Breathe! Remember what we talked about!" he has the rest of the team cheering for me too, which meant a lot to me. I look over at him and nod my head. I breathe in and out. The horn sounds. And I'm off. I'm pounding my feet against the track, and I remember my breathing patterns. I know exactly what to do. And adrenaline takes over from there. I'm pushing harder now. I barely see the people who were in front of me falling behind me. Then I hear cheering. I'm running further and further, trying as hard as I can to get to the end of the race. Trying so hard to win. It was up to me now. And I'm pushing myself as hard as I can, my team deserves this win. We've come so far to get to this moment. And then I'm there. I've finished first. My teammates surround me and cheer for me. Now we're first in the county track and field. I check, and I've beat my best times! It was so long yearned for. And now, at last, here.