A track you shouldn’t skip

As finals are sneaking up on me, I often daze in and out of studying and drift into this semester’s memories. I think back to my first day walking up to Baylor’s track and field complex to do my first set of interviews for The Lariat. I never ran track in high school, so embracing the fact that I had a ton to learn, I sat on the bleachers to spend some time observing. Would you have ever guessed I walked away with tears running down my face? I can explain…

The dynamic of track and field is unlike any other sport. Girls and guys training together: one second, laughing and talking in the sunshine, the next, testing their limits, completely in the zone. Lap after lap, hour after hour, technique after technique, all while no mainstream sportsfan even lends a thought. Incredible. I remember calling my mom when I got to the car – she ran track in college – explaining to her her my newfound respect and admiration for all her dedication and determination as an athlete!

I left the complex that day with this empty hole in my heart from being on a team, working after something every single day with my closest friends and teammates. But I’ve walked away from countless games and practices at Baylor – without crying like a little girl – something about this particular squad was different.

Think about how you rank track athletically, in your own mind. Now think about track, the mental and personal aspect of it. Let’s pretend I run track (HAHA). Every time I run, compete and cross the finish line, the time and rank up on the board is mine. Nobody helped me, nobody hurt me. It’s a product of my mental decision to push myself and is a reflection of the work and sweat I’ve put in. What other sport takes one’s inner drive and motivation and puts it on display for the world to see, in the rawest form?

Being the oldest sport in history, track originated in the Panhellenic Games in Greece. Around 200 B.C. the games spread to Rome and Italy for the Ancient Olympic Games. Sprints, long distance running, hurdles, relays (there’s your teamwork), jumps and throws, all so the world could be entertained by the beauty of athleticism. Through track and field events. Pretty cool, right?

Besides being in awe as I watched them run, or being able to celebrate with them the NCAA records they broke, my favorite part was spending time with what I believe are some of Baylor’s most incredible athletes.

Freshman Tiffani McReynolds weighs 90 lbs and is the fifth strongest person on the squad. Gabriel El Hanbli holds the Canadian Senior national title in the 400-meter hurdles. Senior Tiffany Townsend has been an All-American over 15 times. Skylar White gives the sassiest/quirkiest quotes. Olympian Michael Johnson ran track at Baylor for cryin’ out loud… Respect.

The truth about track and field is that frankly, it’s overlooked. Talking to Coach Harbour on my last day, I told him how much joy it gave me to cover the most dedicated and talented athletes at Baylor. (I don’t think many people realize that in a couple of years, these guys and girls will be in the blocks ready to run at the Olympics. I sure didn’t.)

Harbour made a great point. I remember him shaking his head saying, “Track gets the least coverage out of any sport. Locally, nationally. Across Texas, baseball, football and basketball get all the coverage, when in reality, the most parents of athletes in Texas are for track.”

Interestingly enough, he’s completely right. These athletes receive the least coverage and recognition, (not one feature on any track athlete was done by Waco news this season) and they must remain the most consistently driven. The way this squad ran, trained and competed will be seared in my mind forever. Next time you’re out on a jog and you’re getting tired, I have the solution! To dig deeper, to watch yourself make it a little further, a little faster, think like a track athlete. Set a new record while no one watches. There’s no telling what you’ll uncover.

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