As the chilly early spring breeze
cut right through my thin long sleeve shirt,
I pondered turning around and walking back into the locker room.
The coach already hated me
I was a member of “that’ group of girls
(of which I was sure they didn’t want me to be a part)
and practice hadn’t yet officially begun.
Just as my mind was made up to cut my losses early on
roll call was over and our warmup assignment was given-
thereby squelching any opportunity for escape.
“1 mile loop and then back to the track for stretching” coach bellowed out.
As his word hit my ears, they were quickly drowned out
by the thudding of my heart and my own inner voice.
“1 mile? He seriously wanted us to run 1 mile just as a warmup?!?
I had never even run more than 1/4 of a mile…
There was NO way I could run a mile
especially as just a warmup! I had signed up to run sprints…
and 1 mile was WAY past the distance of which I believed sprinters should ever have to run!
What was I doing out here anyways?”
Looking around, I realized that I was not the only person feeling aghast about the assignment.
Soon, the six of us stragglers, plus a few new additions teamed up and started off
on the ridiculous warmup mile
As we ran, we began to talk
and I quickly realized that I was not the only person feeling out of place
but that in reality,
none of the 10 of us really knew or understood why we were there.
we all equally hated the coach
at that very moment…
sort of a united front
which began the process
of us being tightly knit together.
We took our time on our run,
splashing through puddles and working to catch our breath
as we ran up the giant Riverside hill.
As we all ran, awkwardly Jr. High in stature
and completely out of shape,
we all believed that
at any moment, anyone in our group
could drop dead from lack of oxygen.
Even through the excruciating pain,
that 1 mile warm up run
was the first glimmer of hope
in what had been a terribly gloomy day.
Eventually, the ten of us made our way back to the school
and slipped into the warmup lines
as inconspicuously as possible.
As we began to stretch, the sun began to peek out from behind a cloud,
offering a rare bit of respite
from the brisk wind that was whisking away any sweat
that we had conjured up on our initial run.
I leaned back and allowed the warmth
to envelop my body and provide me a comfort
that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
“Katie, Sarah, Jenny, April, Rachel, Elizabeth”
The gruff voice calling out my name snapped me out of my momentary peace
as my reality at hand was once again made evident.
“Before you head off to your events, come see me in the stands”
The warmth I felt on my face was no longer from the rays of the sun
it grew from a place deep within
that was burning with hatred at the man I was to call ‘coach’.