I almost got cut from the 6th grade basketball team because I was slow. If you know me now, and only now, this may surprise you. Truth is, I hated running when I was younger. You know the saying “my sport is your sports punishment”, that hit home with me. I hated running because it was a punishment.
During practice for the middle school basketball team we had a drill to work on foul shots. There was 12 girls on the team, all but the shooter lined up on the end line. The shooter got two shots, if she missed one we did one sprint (end line and back) if she missed two we did two. My sixth grade year I held down the job of crossing the line last. I was slow.
The coach thought I had an attitude problem, I still remember her approaching me at tryouts. “Look I understand you might not want to run, but you’re putting no effort into this, you’re not even trying to sprint. I can’t keep someone on the team who doesn’t want to be here.”
Truth is, I was trying, I did not know how to sprint. I did not know how to run even. I mean sure I could run, I played field hockey that fall and no one said anything to me. I ran around outside all summer long, no one said anything to me. But now it was being asked to sprint fast, I did not know how to do that. I spent my entire 6th grade year trying to figure out how the other girls ran so quickly. By doing this I spent a lot of time at the back of the pack.
After basketball season, softball started. For the first, and only time in my entire life I was cut from a team. Luckily I still had travel and rec but I was hit hard by the thought of not being good enough, and something started to click.
I wanted to be the best.
That summer I worked on a lot of things, but mostly my running form. I went to field hockey and basketball camps, I worked on speed, I worked on skills, I worked on anything I could.7th grade year first day of field hockey I got the ball, sprinted down the field and scored a goal within the first 30 second of the season opening.
I guess I learned how to sprint. I wanted it to be fun. I thought of it as a race, not a punishment. I imagined me and my friends were lined up laughing trying to see who was the best. I loved competition. I started sprinting with a smile on my face head held high. This attitude carried with me to high school, then college. I was surprisingly fast, I could out sprint my entire college hockey team, I was close with a girl on the college basketball team, but I blew everyone out of the water in softball, even gaining the school record in stolen bases on the way.
Finding fun in running has brought me to where I am now. Without that one basketball season 16 years ago I may have never become a runner. Without finding fun and competition I would never have ran my first 5k, which would never have led to my first half, full or ultra marathon. Everyday I am thankful for sports, everyday I am thankful for finding happiness in running.