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An letter to my former athletes

Seeing your smiling faces every day brought me joy. You made me nervous because I got sick to my stomach before you raced. You worried me by being college students and doing the things that college students do. You made me angry because sometimes you didn’t get along, sometimes you skipped practice, and sometimes you made poor choices. You made me furious for these same reasons, but I always forgave you. Most importantly you made me proud.

Many of you have made me cry, in a good way, because seeing you succeed was the most amazing thing in the world. You have made me jump for joy and scream so loudly that it hurt. Thank you for this. You always give me something to believe in.

You may have called me or sent me text messages in the middle of the night but I am also thankful for this, it taught me how to use the do not disturb feature on my iPhone. I am even grateful for the prank phone calls because they have given me great stories to tell. Many of you would visit me at work and it always brightened my day, even if you were being disruptive and I’d make you leave. This has also given me great stories to tell. You made me a faster runner too. There have been many times that running with you has been a challenge. I am not always in great shape but you seem think that I am, and I am really thankful for that. I am a better athlete because I have chased you through the trails.

You have taught me how to be many things. I have learned how to be a taxi service, an alarm clock, an academic advisor, a tutor, a peace maker, and a motivational speaker. You have taught me to always have extra hair ties, water, socks, and lip balm because you won’t have those things. You have taught me to wear clothes with pockets because you will bring unnecessary things to the start of the race.

All of the miles I’ve run with you have given me clarity. I’ve seen the world from dozens of different perspectives. I have run in your footsteps and you have run in mine. I told you stories as an attempt to teach you lessons, but I have probably learned more from your stories.

When I became a coach I believed that I had to learn how to handle failure with grace, how not to have meltdowns, how be positive when I saw a crisis brewing, and how to be confident when I had doubts. Although, for the most part, I have mastered these things some of you have still seen me at my worst. Eventually, I realized that I would have been a terrible example if you hadn’t. No one is perfect and I am so far from perfect that I still can’t see perfection when I remember to wear my glasses. The truth is, you have helped me realize that I can just be who I am.

Quite frankly, nothing will ever compare to what I have learned from all of you. I have a collection of experiences that are unique in their own way. I have experienced things that I could not have imagined. The thing about all of these experiences is that they are encompassed in one singular life changing event that occurred by nothing more than happenstance. I was given an opportunity and I took it. Coaching wasn’t something that I had set out to do, but it has become the one thing in my life that I cherish the most. It has driven me to pursue an entirely different career path and to revisit the dreams that I had once abandoned. I thank you for this because you have helped me have faith in myself. You have helped me take huge risks in pursuit of happiness. You may not see how that is possible, but I do. Had I not met you, all of you, I wouldn’t be who I am.

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