A Tribute to the Best Team Ever by Carrie Daniels

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Photo by Elijah Boyd.

Photo by Elijah Boyd.

I’m on a bus on the way to a track meet in the middle of April. I keep repeating over and over, “I AM SO EXCITED” and “I CANNOT WAIT TO RACE” to my teammates until they get annoyed. Yet, they are still smiling at me because they know how much I love track meets. We are at the track, and the normal warmup and preparation for the races starts. I talk to my coach about the 800m race, as I start stretching, because he knows how excited I get for each race. For some reason, this meet feels strange and unexpected. April 14, 2020, I wake up from this realistic dream, and instantly my heart aches and my eyes well with tears; it is only a dream without an ending, and it’ll remain that way for the rest of this senior year.

There are certain things that make life exciting, and for me it’s looking forward to race day at the end of the school week. I don’t want to write about how hard it is to pretend like everything is fine and life will go on, when deep down my heart hurts from being pulled away from the last season I had competing as a collegiate athlete. I may not have been the fastest, but the improvement I have had personally over the years at Rocky has been an amazing experience. It’s sad to not have a last meet with the distance girls I have grown so close to. It’s sad to not remember our last run together as a team because we didn’t realize it was our last. And it’s sad that I don’t get to watch these amazing ladies race with their entire hearts as we continue to cheer each other on in life. Rocky gave me the best family of teammates I could ever ask for, and I miss my family.

However, it is happy thinking about the time our cross country team made it to Nationals not once, but twice over the years. Or that time the 4×4 team kept breaking the school record last year. It is happy thinking about Mei Li dancing at the starting line before a race and Coach giving a look to her like “Focus!” while I smile at this girl’s dance moves, as I know she is ready to race. It is happy thinking about Larissa and Courtney getting so excited about the different adventures we got to go on at team camps and our trip to Hawaii when they surfed until it was too dark to see anymore. It is happy thinking about the times I’ve got to sit down for coffee with Corinne and discuss life and running, because she just gets me. It is happy watching Carina make it to Nationals in the marathon because I know how hard she works, and it’s happy thinking about the times Guan Yin talked about her algae and science projects on runs because her passion for it truly shows. It is happy remembering Ruth always up with the lead pack because I get to say, “That is my teammate and she works hard, yet is so humble.” It is happy getting to know Grace, a cross-country skier who decided to run with us and is way better than she even thinks she is. It is happy experiencing Kieran’s first ever track meet with her and giving her the best advice I can to every question asked. It is happy experiencing when Sydney sits down on the bus next to me because I love her like a little sister, even though I may have to pack an extra hair tie or water for her. Most of all, it is happy getting to watch these girls grow, as they have helped me grow over the last few years.

Finding closure is hard when all the “closure” events are taken away from you. For the entire year I have been talking about how I will be so sad in May when things that have been an integral part of my life come to a close. Although it would have been a happy closing and a start to a new chapter of my life, it would also have been sad to see friends/teammates who were so close move far away and to have my time at Rocky Mountain College finally come to an end. For me and for other seniors, we’ve had graduation, art shows, classes, friends, jobs, awards banquets, and all the events held at the end of the year at Rocky taken away. But nothing will compare to the ache in my heart for the sport I love the most, track and field, and the family of girls that came with it. We will race again together, and I know it will for sure be a happy day.

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