Being a schoolteacher and someone with a Type A personality, I typically like rules. A lot. Rules make my world less complicated, give me structure, and I find comfort in guidelines. I like rules... until they start messing with my kids. Grrr. Before I explain talk about our recent track meet, I want to say that I would NEVER display my frustration with track meet officials in front of my athletes. I think it's important to teach kids respect for rules and for the officials of their sport, regardless if we agree with them or not. So, while this post might seem rant-ish, I really tried hard to be positive with the kids and help them learn from their experiences.
We left for Jacksonville on Thursday afternoon, and it seemed we would NEVER get down there. Friday morning came all too early, and the 3000M was up first. We had a lot riding on this meet, as the top 5 from each division/event advanced to the Jr. Olympics in Houston. For some of the events, they combined age groups. While this helped make the meet go faster, it was sometimes confusing b/c you didn't know what place your athlete came in just by watching the finish. You had to wait for them to post official results.
During the older boys' 3000M race, the bottom fell out of the sky. I mean, it was POURING down rain. I'm so thankful they didn't call the race off, though. You could hardly SEE. I was standing near the finish line trying to watch, but I had no umbrella, just this cheapo poncho. My athlete had 3rd pretty much tied up, too far from 2nd or 4th to really do anything. For some reason, in the last 100 meters, his left foot stepped off the track into the infield. I'm not really sure what happened, but he apparently, slipped from being too close and took a few steps on the grass. Well, he got DQed. To make matters worse, there were only 5 kids in his division, meaning he would've advanced no matter WHAT place he got. That was my first frustrating experience with rules. The young athletes was crushed, and he doubted he confidence in his other events- 1500M and 800M. He felt like his only chance to go to the Jr. Olympics WAS the 3000M, and now that was gone.
The rain continued most of the day, and it was still raining when we put our little baby kids (under 8) out there for the 4 x 100 relay. They did so well! They finished 4th and were so excited!!!! Well, that night at the hotel, I looked at the website to review some of the final times and results. Come to find out, we had been DQed from the relay! Not only us, but EVERY OTHER TEAM but one! The notes next to the DQ stated lane violations, but I couldn't imagine how when I didn't see any flags thrown during the race (by the lane judges). The next day, I heard a few of the other coaches talking about it, and they said that the officials went back and watched the video and saw a whole slew of lane violations. I mean, I know rules are rules, but COME ON! They are 8 year olds! So, at breakfast that morning, I had to explain to the little darlings, that no, even though they got 4th place, they were NOT going to the Jr. Olympics. Sucky McSuckerson.
We did get sweet, sweet revenge in the 1500M, though. 7 athletes qualified in just that event alone. The high school boy who was DQed from the 3000M was especially nervous. He was seeded 9th; so he knew there was work to be done. He ran a phenomenal race! He settled back in the pack for the first lap, then slowly picked people off, working his way up to the front group. 1st and 2nd place were locked in, leaving all the other gunning and fighting for 3rd-5th place. In the last 50 meters, he became boxed in, and made a gutsy move- darted all the way to the 4th lane, and ran his butt off. The kid's dad and I were going crazy. It was going to be close, though. It was definitely a photo finish. 3rd-7th were all in a big pack! So, we waited and waited and waited, but FINALLY- 5th place and he ran a PR!!!!! Holy cow, it was amazing.
Saturday night, we took the kids to Dave & Busters (arcade and restaurant). Nothing like chaos with 24 kids after 2 whole days of being outside in the blazing heat. Exhausting. Sunday proved to be another successful day. I could tell you all about their little success stories. They are all special. We have a good showing that made the Jr. Olympics, and I'm very excited about that.
Nearly all the "distance kids" gave me a big hug before they left the meet Sunday. As a coach, that goes a long way. That and many of the parents said thank you, and told me how much they appreciated me. That, too, goes a very long way.
Now, if you excuse me, I'm off to nap and after 3 full days of track adventures!