By Michael Smith
We’re six months either removed from Thanksgiving or six months in advance of it, but it seems the most appropriate time to give thanks. While it might be easy to lament a summer much different than anyone has ever encountered that doesn’t mean we don’t have many things to be thankful for.
In a time of much uncertainty, it’s easy to get caught up in how much different things are going to be for each of us; how it’s impacting us in our day to day lives and how it’s going to change the way we do things in the future. It would be easy to simply focus on the things we used to do, the way we used to go about our daily lives and dwell on what might have been.
But there’s no benefit to doing so. Longing for things gone by does no good and wanting things unlikely to be is fruitless. So why not recognize the many ways we’re lucky as we work to find our way through this pandemic.
Let’s look at the easy one. We all have more time to train. As I’ve learned through the Celebrating Senior interviews and with my own training, there is a lot more flexibility in the training schedule for everyone under COVID-19. Some people are taking advantage of that while others might be letting the loss of the season dictate their goals and training. But whether you’re working from home or in remote learning, the work schedule is a bit more forgiving. Some people have not taken advantage of the “gift” of time linked with the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean that gift was there hidden in plain sight.
Also, if you’re reading this, you’re likely healthy and that’s a very good thing. While many of the readers of the website are likely younger than the hardest hit segment of the population, catching the virus can come with some pretty negative effects for athletes, like long term compromised immune systems and respiratory issues down the line, not to mention the potential for death. If you’re not in this category, that’s a good thing.
The vast majority of the population will come through this difficult time in history without the horror this plague can levy. As a person who’s in-laws contracted and survived corona, I’m very happy to be among the large percentage that can list close family members as survivors. My parents are within the disease’s target range and thus far have escaped contracting it. With my mother fighting heart disease issues and cancer treatment, that’s a very good thing. While times might be tough as it’s difficult to see them but through closed doors and from a distance, the fact they are currently healthy lies on the list of things I have to be grateful for.
On a certainly less important note, I’ve learned to “enjoy” the time away from coaching spring track as well. My school day usually starts around 5am, getting into school early to prep for classes. The school day ends at 2:42 where I put on my coaching hat and continue in that vein for another two and a half hours. Then it’s home to make dinner, relax for a few moments, and then get ready to do it all over again. Between the flexibility in my daily schedule and simply the fact that I don’t have my coaching duties I’ve done tons of yard work, made more than a few home improvements and upped my mileage about 20%. For the past 22 years, it seems I’ve been out straight for three months, from mid-March through mid-June, and while I miss track I’ve found ways to enjoy my slightly less hectic and demanding spring season.
As we slide into the end of the school year, which is very different than it usually is, let’s all take a deep breath and recognize the many things to be thankful for. Yes graduations are going to be different, proms gone by the wayside, senior trips that won’t happen and you can choose to focus on those if you like. But I think it’s important to keep your eye on the prize. The reason for graduation is to recognize and celebrate the student completing their public school years and that’s still happening. Students will graduate, get their diplomas and move onto the next phase of their lives. In the long run, the loss of these other “senior trappings” will matter less and less until they don’t matter at all. Life’s great moments will step in and take center stage in the important moments of life and the loss of prom, senior trip and graduation will slip by the wayside.
So let’s take a moment to recognize how truly lucky we are, in our ability to grow through this moment, come out the other side with a new appreciation of what we do have, and be thankful that our future will be full of friends, family, and many other accomplishments that will enrich our lives more than this current moment in time.
Good luck to all those in the NHTF community that are moving on beyond high school track and field and taking on that next big challenge…life!