I'm not sure if it's been the weather, or what, but this season has not really taken off like I hoped. I guess I thought our team would pick up practice right where we left off in May. It just seems as though the kids' work ethic isn't there. We do have a LOT of new faces, and many kids from last year are not on the team. Coach H and I sat down a few days before the first meet to brainstorm the reason(s) for lack of effort, and additional ways to motivate.
I think the weather, up until this week, has really been getting us down. Runners from lower Alabama just aren't made to run in sub 30 temps.
Next is the whole "work" issue. By this, I mean that a LOT of my athletes have jobs. At first I didn't really consider this an interference. One evening, pretty late, TP and I went out somewhere and he wanted a milkshake. We drove through Whataburger and working there was one of my throwers. He had gone straight from track practice (ended at 5) to work and would work until 10. This was on a school night! No wonder some of these kids are motivated- they are exhausted. I am constantly reminded how
"early" these kids have to grow up. Can you imagine helping support your family at 16?
The next interference is the Alabama Graduation Exam. A lot of kids have trouble passing. So... they have tutoring after school and on weekends.
Then there's the usual high school drama like teen pregnancy and drug use. One of my sprinters quit the team this week b/c she's pregnant. Which leads me to drug use and Thursday's track meet.
We were supposed to leave for northern Florida at 2:30. I arrive at the high school and see police cars out front. None of the kids are waiting and Coach H is nowhere to be seen. Apparently they scheduled a drug bust/search for 2:00 on Thursday. Meaning, none of the kids or teachers could leave until the search was over. I waited, waited, and waited, and finally Coach H came out with some "bad news." Two of our track kids had been arrested- one for marijuana and one for unlabeled prescription pills. We finally got on the road, but were so late that we had to forfeit ALL jumping events, plus boys' shot put.
The actual meet went smoothly, and I feel like the kids ran hard THERE. It's every day practice that concerns me. They aren't making the efforts needed to get better. We ranked 5th out of 6 teams. But, it's a wonder we weren't dead last considering the number of events we didn't even participate in.
On the way home, Coach H and I came up with a little plan to motivate. We both agreed that we should be more vocal with positive reinforcement. We also are in the process of making a school record board. We researched as many times as we could find and noted the fastest/farthest in each event. We plan to make a large board that will be displayed as a challenge for the athletes to beat. Also, I sat down with the kids and just talked to them about working hard, believing in themselves, and having high goals. Friday, Saturday, and today's practices went VERY well and I could tell that the kids are really making an effort now. I'm hoping the momentum will continue until our next track meet!
In other news, I'm off run in the Del Sol Ragnar Relay this weekend- soooo excited!