Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 152 - Hurdles 101

Today was the first track practice of the year. First ever for The Duke. And my first as unofficial hurdle coach.

The boy looked great. And better, it looked like he was having fun. When he was done his cheeks were red, he was sweaty, and he had a big smile on his face.

Coaching was an exercise in patience. Ten, maybe twelve kids, and only one had ever jumped a hurdle.

Ever tried to teach someone something that to you is so obvious? I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to put into words, or examples, or demonstrations, or analogies, what they needed to do.

I'm not a teacher. I'm not trained or experienced in teaching kids these age. Except for my own. And they ignore everything I say.

For the first 20 minutes, it felt like utter failure. The two show-off boys, your know the ones, the ones who thought they knew it all, nearly derailed the whole session.

"This is boring." "I already know how to do this." "Why can't we just jump them?" "This is stupid!"

Not to drag you all into the way back machine, but when I was in Middle School, kids didn't talk smack to their coaches. But I knew they were trying to provoke me, (one of the boys tried to squirt me with his water bottle) and I wasn't going to play along.

Then, a little Track and Field miracle.

Natalie.

Yes a girl.

Nailed the drill. Nailed. It.

Nothing shuts up a smart-mouthed know it all boy like seeing a girl do something better than him.

Then, Kayla, another girl, nailed it. Girls 2, Smart-mouthed Boys 0.

Now I had their attention.

One by one, they started to get it. It was so cool to see the excitement and pride in their faces. And it was a huge relief for me. I'd pulled up and out of the "epic fail" nose dive.

The last two? Those two boys. They stayed late. We were the last on the track. But they got it.

It was a little life lesson for all of us. For the girls, with hard work, concentration, determination, and persistence, you can do anything. For the boys, sometimes you need to shut up and listen to your elders. (Yes, I just referred to myself as an elder.)

For me, it was a reminder that patience and faith in people, especially young people, is rewarded many times over.

Good running,
Doug

Numbers: 4.4 miles on roads.