Friday, September 16, 2011

State Champ? Maybe someday.

As some of you know, I'm coaching varsity cross-country at Gray-New Gloucester High School this fall. I was offered the job on a whim this summer because of the successes I had coaching middle school track last spring. I took the job because coaching varsity cross-country has been a dream of mine ever since I graduated high school in 2000.

Now let's fast-forward a bit because this blog entry has nothing to do with cross-country.

A week or two ago I was waiting outside the school with the team for the bus to take us to our second meet of the season. As we were waiting, I noticed a familiar looking man walk by. After taking a moment to recognize him, I called out, "Hey are you Zack's dad?"

He looked over at me and said, "Yeah," then started walking towards me.

"I'm Coach Nate," I said, extending my hand to him. "I coached Zack last spring in the high jump."

"Oh, you're the coach responsible for starting my son out to be a state champion," he said.

A little confused by what he meant--there isn't a "state champion" at the middle school level--I said, "What do you mean?"

"Well, after school ended Zack continued to do the high jump for USATF. He ended up jumping 5'5" by the end of the year. He actually had the best jump in Maine and went on to Nationals in Kansas in June."

Now let's get something straight. 5'5" is an unbelievable jump for a 7th grader. Truly remarkable. What makes this even more remarkable is that this kid hadn't even attempted to high jump until the 2nd or 3rd meet of the season when he was goofing off in practice and decided to give it a shot. I saw him fly over that bar--with pretty poor form but a lot of vertical height--and knew instantly that with some work he could be a heck of a jumper. So we worked on it over, and over, and over again in practice until he got up to 5'0" by the middle school conference meet. Apparently he has worked even harder since then and got up to 5'5"!

"If he keeps working hard and jumping like that he could be a state champion by his junior or even sophomore year."

"Maybe. Zack would probably have wanted to tell you all that himself but I couldn't help it I'm so excited," his dad said.

Successes like this are why I love helping people help themselves--whether it be through fitness training, coaching or just giving advice. At the end of the day, I can't consider it work.

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