Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Inspiration is found in strange places...

My week has been much better than last week. I don't know if the sense of accomplishment following my long Saturday run has set my mind in a better place, or what, but I posted two nice paces on Tuesday and Wednesday. I know that running an average pace of 9:16 doesn't sound lightening fast, but when you are training your muscles and brain to know a marathon pace, it is good.

At the onset of our training, there was a strong possibility that one of my former students would be joining us in Paris. Jill is now a senior in high school. When I look at her, there is an odd sense that I am looking in a mirror and the reflection is a version of myself 20 years ago. She doesn't necessarily resemble me in the physical sense, but I see some ambition in her that I know I possessed at that young age. Disappointed, though, we were to discover that she would not be old enough to run the marathon, Jill continues to encourage and support me in my training efforts. Last night, I watched Jill do something that must have been terribly difficult. You see, at the beginning of this year, she decided to transfer from our public school, to a private (rival) school. This could not have been an easy decision for her, but I admire her convictions to stick with her decision. With her transfer, Jill took on the unbelievable burden of switching team loyalty from our school to theirs. Last night, Jill returned to the basketball court as a starting player for the rival team. She was and, I might argue, still is loved by her classmates at our school, but her dedication to her new team must not have been easy last night. To complicate matters, she was to play against her sister - who happened to start for our team. This game was one for the record books for many reasons. Perhaps many people will remember it for the 18 points that our starting 8th grader scored (silencing the jeers of the rival school's Dawg Pound); perhaps they will remember it because our small public school was never expected to win, let alone compete with Jill's new team- but WON; perhaps people will remember it for the sister vs. sister press that was witnessed from time to time; perhaps they will remember it for the first points of the game that were scored by the girl who switched teams her senior year. Me? I'm going to remember it for the sportsmanship that I saw Jill demonstrate as she stepped onto the court, in what was a difficult situation - going up against her former coach, teammates, school. I will remember it because she didn't cave to the pressure that she must have been feeling. Her stats were impeccable - carried her team in points. I will remember it because I watched a young lady (who reminds me of myself from time to time) rise to the occasion and do what she needed to do. Sure, her new team lost by 3 points, but she showed up and played what should be considered one of the hardest games of her life.

AGAIN, with the 'moral of the story' posts..... but seriously, I should be inspired by Jill's accomplishments in the face of difficulty last night - and I am. But DARN, if I'm not more disappointed than ever that she isn't joining us in Paris. She'd be a great person to have on our team - particularly to push us through the wall and on to the finish line.

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