We had tryouts for High School Track and Field this past Thursday and Friday. I’m the sprint coach and lead the warm-up drills on the front end of practice, then lead small groups through the same technique drills while giving individual feedback. It’s not actually ‘tryouts’ as no one will be cut. We’re happy to have anyone who’s interested come out, train and compete.
Yesterday, once the distance runners took their leave, we had just a very small group of athletes left and due to a doctor’s appointment I needed to leave early, so I was only able to offer a short session with a group of all girls. 3 seniors and one 9th grader. I’ve known the seniors mostly since middle school and the 9th grader since birth since her mom and I have worked together for years. The atmosphere therefore was different than usual. I joined them for most of the drills and we giggled and laughed about how we were doing. They are all familiar with my routines which is why I decided to break things up. We did a few fitness drills – mountain climbers, arm swings and hotsteppers – followed by 40m recovery striders. We didn’t overdo it. Our session was relaxed and motivating and intimate. A gift on a Friday afternoon.
Thinking it over again this morning, I realize how deep these relationships run. Coaching track is the one thing I have done professionally longer than anything else. The fact that I can still demonstrate high knees and kick butts accurately means a lot to me. My student athletes learn that I am far more interested in their care than in their eventual times in the sprints. Our season is ridiculously short and I tell them that my goal is to get everyone to the end-of-season tournament healthy, uninjured and able to compete to the best of their ability. I know that that can only happen if we pay attention to making practice a desirable destination, one that is fun, friendly, and worthwhile. The same is true for me. I need to make practice a place that I also want to be at the end of long school days for the next 9 weeks.