A Regret

I know now that I am a visual learner and I wish I had realized that back when I was a student in high school and even college.

When I was in high school, my senior year, I decided, rather randomly, that I wanted a letter jacket. But, to have a true letter jacket, I had to letter in some things. Because it actually is NOT cool to have a letter jacket with just one letter on it. Letter jacket is misleading; It’s really a letters jacket.

At the time when I made this decision, I was on track to letter in only one thing – Drama Club. Shocking, I know. Actually, I didn’t realize at the time that you could receive an academic letter, so I was already set with two. At any rate, I decided to attempt to letter in Track & Field. Mind you, I had never before in my life even stepped foot on a track. That’s the God’s honest truth.

So, anyway, the rule was that any senior on the track team would letter. And, pretty much, showing up for “tryouts” was the tryout. I was in!

It became quickly obvious that running wasn’t really my thing. (When I’m in shape, I can run til the cows come home, I just can’t do it very fast.) I was told that my track sports would be: hurdles, long jump and high jump. Not bad for never having done ANYTHING along these lines before.

I showed up the first day at hurdles, listened to the coach, and attempted to do as he asked. At the end of practice, he wanted to know what other events I was doing. Long jump and high jump. “Mmm,” he pondered, “that’s a lot on your plate. Maybe you should consider focusing on just the long jump and high jump.” Sure thing, coach.

Day two, I show up at the long jump, listened to the coach, and attempted to do as he asked. At the end of practice, he too wanted to know what other events I was doing. Just long jump and high jump. “Mmm,” he pondered, “You might do better to focus your efforts on just one event and get really good at it. Tomorrow give the high jump a try.” Uh oh.

Day three, I show up at the high jump. Lucky me! There is no coach for high jump so that’s my event. For about 15 minutes one of the coaches from the other events would come by and give us some pointers, otherwise I was just taking in advice from the other students who were also doing the high jump.

Then comes the first track meet and, to this day, I have no idea how I did it, but I won the meet for my event!! It was AWESOME. And the next morning, they called my name over the intercom along with the other track winners for our school. There was more than one surprised nod of approval and congratulations from my classmates. It was pretty great.

That was the apex of my track career. After that, things just went downhill. Our sometimes coach tried to give me pointers. He said that I was not arching my back enough and I really needed to kick my feet out at the last minute as I went over the pole. It was these two issues causing me to knock the pole over when I tried to increase the height. I practiced and tried. I thought I was doing what he said – arching my back and kicking out my feet – but I just never could quite get over the pole at any higher level.

Senior year ended and I lettered in track, as well as drama and beta club, so I had enough letters that I could hold my head high. And, I moved on from high school into college. My freshman year there, I lived in an apartment right behind the UGA track. My friends and I would meet there later in the evenings to workout once the blazing sun had gone down and our dinners had digested. We’d run the track, play a scrimmage game of soccer and otherwise goof around.

Mark Adams, a good friend and AMAZING photographer, was taking pictures of us on one such night. I was “practicing” my high jump for everyone’s enjoyment and he snapped this photo:

To this day, I’ve always wished that I could have seen this picture when I was still in high school, practicing at the track. It is so clear to me that my back needs to be arched and I should have kicked my feet out right at the moment he snapped this photo! I’ve cleared the pole by quite a bit. If only I had kicked out my feet!! I truly believe that having seen that while in high school, I could visualize it as I was flying backwards through the air at the next day’s practice and made the changes the sometimes coach suggested. I could have been a high jump contender!!

But, alas and anon, I will never know. This picture reminds me of that fact every time I see it.

5 Responses to “A Regret”

  1. K Says:

    Joy — I enjoyed reading this. Isn’t it amazing what you remember from high school and how it affects you later in life? I enjoy seeing the photos of our daughter. Enjoy her while you can — they grow up too fast! Kris Bakowski

  2. Kristen Says:

    I remember that year. My sister talked me into being a track manager because she didn’t want to do it by herself. That was a fun time.

  3. JoyLuck Says:

    Those are truely formative years in so many ways.And it’s universal, I think.

    Kris – I saw that Allen graduated. I can’t beleive it!! Congrats!

    Kristen – I hope you at least got a letter out of it! Those were the days . . .

  4. p Says:

    I just love the blue checked Umbros.

  5. JoyLuck Says:

    Yes, classic.

Leave a Reply