January 5, 2011

What To Do When Your Best Just Isn't Good Enough

I've been fundraising and working and begging and talking about these track repairs. Actually it is singular- one repair, the 10 meters of concrete w/ the 390 meters of rubber for a year and a half.

We finally raised what I *thought* would be the majority of the money for the repair. After a year and a half of begging and whining, I finally got the okay from the Assistant Superintendent to get some estimates on the track repair. He also said that if we were a "tad" shy, the board would come up with some money, maybe a grand or two. So, I set to work calling and tracking down contractors that might could do this job. Most of them said that since the damaged part was filled w/ concrete, they wouldn't even touch it. Finally, I found a company that assured me they could do the work. So... I arranged the meeting at the track later in the week. (Today being the magic day.) I woke up to POUNDING rain, gully washing rain. I really hoped he wouldn't bail considering I had already arranged for the assistant superintendent and the principal to be out there, too.

I arrived at the school and go into the office to let the principal know that I am there. She was in a meeting and will "meet us out there in a few minutes." So, I go to the track and put my key into the lock to open the fence surrounding the track. In the process, I put my umbrella on the fence to shield my face while I am working w/ the lock. The umbrella falls to the other side, leaving me to get drenched. The.key.won't.work. THE.KEY.WONT.WORK. I'm standing there totally embarrassed in front of the contractor b/c 1)The head track coach can't even get INTO the track facility. 2) I am looking like a wet rat. 3)The assistant superintendent and the principal are NOT there.

(Sidebar- I'm a little irritated b/c K is the one that had given me the key. So, I'm thinking after all that has happened, the friggin' key was bad, too!???!!!)

After the custodian came and unlocked the fence, the contractor and I went out to look at the condemned area. It was not a good report. $10K MINIMUM, but likely more like $15K. The problem is not the materials. It is that these large companies require a minimum sale price b/c they will be traveling so far and bringing in their own equipment. Another "plus" to living Nowhere. At this point the assistant principal came out. I assume the principal was "too busy" so she sent him in her place. I asked about any cheaper options or ideas. Nope, this was it. At this point, I was pretty much near tears. He did tell me he would "make some phone calls" for me and get back to me via email. After he left, I asked the assistant what the chances were of actually getting this job done. He shook his head and said, "not good."

And there you have it. I got back to school and my sweet, sweet principal (remember, I teach at the elementary) immediately asked me about it. He listened to me cry over it for a few minutes and then gave me some words of wisdom. When I said no one cared about the track team, he agreed. Then he told me I should "rest" on it. He said I had become too "emotionally invested." He agreed that the school system and high school would likely never help at all. I asked him if he thought all my work was wasted. "Of course not. The kids know what you've been doing."

And... I happened to find out this week that the "other" track team in town (the city school team) have been breaking serious rules and guidelines given by the state. I'm not really sure what to do with this information, but to just sit on it. I've been the "whistle blower" before and it really gets you nowhere but have everyone dislike you. The majority of these Bubba Coaches couldn't care less about rules and would laugh at anyone that suggested them to actually follow given rules. I have decided to not take our team there to race this year. I will never support a team that doesn't follow rules.

January 24 is our start date and I am dreading it. I have been very public about my goals for having the track fixed for THIS season. I obviously failed. I really don't care about the other teachers or coaches or random town citizens knowing this, it's the kids that I feel sooo bad about telling. They want nothing more than to race at home. They deserve it. I guess I will be just another person that has let them down. A moment comes into my memory from last season. At the state track meet (only 2 hours from our school), NONE of the parents came to watch their child compete. Zero. Not a dad, not a mom, grandma, aunt, uncle, sister, brother, NO ONE. The STATE TRACK MEET! And that's the way we roll in Nowhere Lower Alabama, me and the kids vs. the world.

In summary, it took me 3 days to write this mostly b/c I wanted to calm down and make sure I didn't lay EVERYTHING out there. There are many more frustrating factors, including the lack of equality in sports and their funding. That is neither here nor there. I do feel better today. What's ironic is that I shared a bit w/ some people from RWOL and a few super special ladies immediately dedicated their spring races to my team. Wednesday night when I was ready to throw in the towel and just quit coaching, they kept me going. Thursday night, when I still wanted to quit, I laid it all out there for TP. I asked him what HE would do in my situation. His response, "Keep on, keepin' on. You're too good to quit."

So for now? I guess I'll press on.


  1. Girlfriend, you did not let ANYBODY down! You can't make people and companies do things they refuse to do. YOU, however, worked relentlessly to get this thing done and the kids know that, the principle knows that, anyone you mentioned this to knows that. Please do not look at this as your failure, it was a bureaucratic failure completely. The kids learned a crapload from you about tenacity, caring and making noise about something. Sure, it's not always going to work, but we can only do our best. You did.

  2. That's too bad about the track. And what a shame about the other teams breaking the rules! Ugh! I really admire everything you are trying to do for your team.

  3. This is enormously frustrating; I'm so, so sorry. As Girl in Motion already said: this is not YOUR failure. It sounds like you did everything in your power. Your athletes are absolutely blessed to have a coach who is so dedicated, caring, and brave on their behalf.

  4. Agreed. It's the shortsightedness of the school board that's letting the kids down. And- sad to say- I kind of doubt the same parents who didn't go to the state track meet will remember or care if the track is fixed.

  5. Don't quit. You do it for the kids. How would they feel if you quit on them as well. I'm sure it was momentary frustration. The fact that NO parents showed up is just awful.
    Keep on and best of luck

  6. You're an inspiration LAR. Don't beat yourself up over this setback. As much as the track might mean to you and your kids, your relationship with them and what they will take away from you as their coach is what will make the real difference for the rest of their lives and what they will remember.

  7. You're so hard on yourself. You didn't fail - you did something amazing by even trying to raise the money in the first place! Don't give up! Maybe it won't happen this year, but maybe by next year it will happen.

    Does the team have a Facebook page? Maybe try some fundraising that way. Based on your RWOL experience, one never knows what blessings might come your way.

    Oh, and that other team? I wouldn't even waste another minute thinking about them - they're not worth it!

  8. Hi! I've been reading your blog for awhile now. I always enjoy reading what you post because you are so open & honest. I don't comment much, but I was reading another blog, www.healthytippingpoint.com, when I realized that some of her lastest post is about you & your track team! I hope that her post brings the attention needed to get the funding for your high school track. You seem like a great person & a great coach! You & your kids deserve a place to be able to train & race. Good luck!

  9. New to your blog via HTP.
    I commented on another post but wanted to say that I wish we could find coaches as dedicated to children as you for our school district.
    That is truly inspiring.

  10. Hi, I found your blog and information about your coaching job through HTP. I am running the OC Marathon as well and would love to get in touch with Ashley (who discussed her fundraising efforts on HTP) and see if there is any way that I can get involved in her fundraising efforts as well.

    Thanks for all that you're doing to inspire and help young aspiring student athletes and I hope that we are able to contribute to your cause!

    I would really appreciate if you could pass my information on to Ashley as well. Thank you!