Saturday, November 12, 2011

Running to the End

Big sigh.
Cross country season is over. The final race of the season for freshmen occurred on an uncharacteristically warm, windless clear day on a winding and hilly course called Crystal Springs. There were views of the Crystal Springs reservoir to the west, and the San Francisco Bay to the east. The huge group of freshmen ran well, sweeping first place like they did for every other race they ran this year.

It was an emotional end to the season for my son for various reasons. He experienced the power of a team, of what he could do when he challenged himself, about trust, and about excellent coaching. The season was an intense experience for my son and it has changed him profoundly. He started as a kid who liked to run. He finished the season as a Runner with a capital R, now a part of his identity.

After cross country season was over, he had one day off. He spent that day working on piles of homework. Then, the very next day he joined soccer tryouts.

Unlike cross country, soccer is a cut sport. Over 60 freshmen boys start tryouts and only 18 make the team. One round of cuts happened before he joined the tryouts. Another round just happened yesterday. The final selections are made in about a week from now. By my calculations, my son will go to 12 tryout/practice sessions before he finds out if he has a spot on the team. I have rarely seen him so nervous as before the cuts last night. They happen like this: the coaches run the tryout and then at the end, they tape a piece of paper on the back side of a small outbuilding with a list of names of those boys invited to continue with the tryouts. The boys run or walk over to the outbuilding, crowd around, find their name (or not), and then make their way to their waiting car. Inside the car is a parent who doesn't know what sort of creature will get in. Elated? Dejected? Angry? Relieved? Celebratory? Withdrawn? The whole range of human emotion could be climbing into the passenger seat. It's hard to be ready for that.

What did I get? A boy who was quiet, relieved, and not feeling well. He made it through the round of cuts but only after did I see how intensely he wants to be on this team. The release of emotion actually made him ill and exhausted. It may sound strange but he may have very well had a similar reaction if he was cut.

Big sigh. One more week. He will either have a jersey or he won't. But either way he will have a huge amount of respect for what it takes to be on the team.

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