Everyone, including me, thought that I had won the race. As I crossed the line, the crowd cheered and began to pour out from the stands and onto the track. There I was, a mere sophomore, but I had stood up and volunteered to be our team’s anchor, and now we were the champions. However, I began to question my feelings of elation and victory as I watched the girl from Medfield, our arch rivals, keep running. Then I saw my coach and my teammates yelling at me and making “around the track” gestures with their arms. In my drive to run as fast as I could, I had lost count and there was still one more lap to go before the race was finished. I jumped back onto the track, determined to earn my prize. I ran harder than I ever had and soon battery acid was pumping through my legs and my lungs felt like giant caves, but I was determined and picked up my speed.
My track team, like the ones at most schools, does not get the respect or support of other sports like basketball or football. There have even been people who try to tell me that track was not even a sport; that running around in a circle required no talent whatsoever. Sure, and in baseball everyone should hit a homerun all the time because the pitcher throws the ball directly at the hitter. Each day after school my fellow teammates and I put on our well-worn running shoes and warm up for the day’s workout. We huddle together, using each other as support to overcome the tiredness and muscle aches because we know that in just a few moments we will be pushing our bodies to the limit. Our school has a reputation for fast runners and our coaches work to make sure that we live up that reputation, fully. The gym is draped in all-star, state champion, and other banners. They serve as gentle, yet effective reminders that the pressure to succeed is always on.
During the meets, the intensity level was overwhelming. I could never stand still, and my heart always felt like it was beating out of my chest. At the first race of my freshman year, I was shaking and there was no way I could stop. The thought of having all eyes on me gave me goose bumps. Surprisingly it seemed the more nervous I was, the faster I ran. It was probably because I wanted to get the race over with. Although we were part of a team, the races were individual, sometimes even running against your own teammates.
As the season of my sophomore year came to an end, we had run against all but one team: Medfield. I had been warned that this would be a close race, but I was unaware of just how close the race would become. As the 300 meter race ended, the 600 meter, the mile, and then the two mile we were tied with points. This meet was not a typical meet; it was for the league championship. Surprisingly, it came down to our relay race which was the last event. Our relay consisted of me and three other girls. My coach asked us who would volunteer to be the relay team’s anchor. As everyone else took a step back, I stepped forth. The entire track was lined with my classmates, teachers, parents, and my coaches. As the gun went off, all eyes were on the four of us girls from Hopkinton and the four girls from Medfield.
Try as I might to catch up, too much time had passed and the meet went to Medfield. As I crossed the actual finish line, my heart sank. We could have…if only…
The next few days were really tough for me, but with the support of my family, friends, and teammates, I recovered from my mistake. I was dedicated to my team, and my team needed me. As a four-year varsity letter-holder on my track team, my job and contribution was and is to help motivate and lead my team through a successful season. Because of this, the next practice I walked in with my head held high. Although I had made a big mistake, I had also taken a big risk, and I was the better person for having done so. After that track meet, our team’s bond deepened, and we all became more supportive of each other. We would all cheer for each others races and make sure to tell them how well they did after they completed their event. Every runner may have come together for a number of different reasons, but our goals were same: to achieve peak performance and experience personal growth. For me, through dedication and commitment I have been able to meet and exceed the challenges presented to me. Applying these same attributes to college and my career will help me to become a successful person.