Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Track & Field Lifer: A Love Affair with the Sport

As the son of a high school head track coach, I grew up playing in the sand of long jump pits after school.

I can still hear my mom calling out splits over the bull horn. I am a track & field “lifer”. I have spent my whole life around the game and plan to continue.

I loved growing up in the sport. I watched hundreds of practices and thousands of high school races, daydreaming of the time that I would explode out the blocks and cross the line first.

The event branded into my memory is the feeling of my mom’s team winning the track and field state championship with five girls. Exactly. Five girls. They won by a single point.

We were all elated, rejoicing and hugging my mom and the girls who beat the odds as the final score and team state champions were called out by the public announcer.

Growing up, every Saturday during the spring was spent watching my mom’s team or my brother and sister run high school track.

Twelve years in a row, we made pilgrimage to the state track meet to watch my family perform at the state level.

I vividly recall wishing I was my brother when he was competing at the NAIA National Championship meet. But finally my day came. I won the state championships in the 400 meters.

After those unforgettable days, I was fortunate to run the 800 meters for a storied Division I college track program.

I spent my youth on a quest to hit the big time. That dream never quite came true, but I achieved more than most. I am proud of the success that I’ve had.

But I always assumed that the burning passion for the track & field would eventually come to an end. It hasn’t.

I walked away from the sport after college. I tried golf and pickup basketball, but these activities left me with an almost unspeakable void.

I was a true lover of track and field; it was inevitable that I’d return. Without track and field in my life, where would I get that familiar buzz, that purpose, that joy?

If you know nothing else about me, know this: I plan on track making me happy for a long, long time to come.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

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