My parents had a few rules with us kids. One that came with school: Try an art and a sport.
After two years on the trombone, I fulfilled my sport (in Mom and Dad’s eyes) with track and field in seventh grade. Thirteen-year-old me was pleased, too.
No tackling or hitting here. Football would have snapped me like a toothpick. Track was a perfect sport for a long-legged trombonist like myself, and five seasons of the sport in middle and high school groomed me for the real world.
I learned quickly that I wasn’t quick. At least in sprinting. You can’t expect a person with three-foot legs to win a 100-meter dash. The 400, maybe.
Discipline’s important, too. Yes, track athletes work out, though you can’t often tell. My arms and legs never bulged but the strength came with the clock. Faster, faster, faster.
And in five years, what a variety of workouts too. Jogging to the Bison Sports Arena and back. Weights. Starting blocks. Stretching. Sandbagging Hackberry Drive during the 2009 Red River flood.
How about those track meets too? Lying around for six hours in the shade for your two-minute event. Getting into heats an hour before you run. The anxiety. The adrenaline. The uniforms.
I’ve never been one for shorts, especially with my pale legs flapping around the track. But hey, I had fun. I never won anything, but I had fun.
The 400 was my event. On a good day, I’d clinch that in 61 seconds. Not bad for 38-inch legs.
Other events, the 100, 200, 4×4 relay, maybe count me out.
Nope, get in there, Jack, we need you. OK.
Despite my less than stellar times, I never fell down or injured myself in a run. I had my injuries in training though, from a fluid filled lump on my foot to shin splints to the groin. Track is hard on the body.
But oh, I loved it. Some of my best friends in high school came from track. My senior prom date was the girl on the throwing team I met our first season in seventh grade.
I met my godson’s father the same year, and we’ve been buds ever since.
Five seasons in the sport, I met and made friends with Fargo North track athletes from boys’ and girls’ teams spanning the classes of 2007 to 2015.
I wish I could have ran my senior year, but I had my first job at that point and opted out, but did cover the teams for the school paper.
Track certainly left a greater impression on me than the trombone, not to knock high school band.
You don’t always win, or take second or third or fourth. And you sometimes have to do things you don’t want to do.
Sometimes you get injured or have no money when the bus makes its only food stop on the return trip from Aberdeen at 1 a.m.
But the relationships made along the way sure make it better.