When the Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School opened several years ago, I became the coach of their Boys and Girls Cross Country teams. I spent four years coaxing these kids, who thought a long run was from one end of the basketball court to the other, into traipsing thru a 5K run. At times I wondered aloud why I was putting myself thru so much grief. The kids didn’t seem to care. Parents didn’t seem to care. The school didn’t even seem to care. So I quit. I stayed until the freshmen I started with graduated and that seemed like a reasonable point for me to leave.
The next year, I could not believe how much I missed running with “The Bad News Bears” of Cross Country. What’s more, many of the kids would see me in the halls of the school and tell me how much they missed me coaching them. After one year off, I returned this fall.
I still have runners that seem to be more interested in whining than running. We still manage to bring up the rear at meets. But now I know that the time I spend with these kids makes them better. It makes me better too. I love being out there on a Saturday morning trying to encourage my kids to run instead of walking as they fall farther behind. For all the whining (and walking) they do, these children keep coming back to practice, and they keep getting better.
So do I.