Just when you think you are about to give up, they surprise you. The Cardinal Mooney track team that is. Practice the week before districts was anything but fun. Kids fighting and more interested in what they don't want to run than what they can do to help the team. Track is funny in that you run for your own time but the often forgotten part is you need to score points for the team for a possible district tittle. Spring break occurred the week of District so some kids were not going to be there because of vacations or just plain disappeared. It doesn't help that parents are not supportive in teaching kids responsibility. The kids committed to track so they need to see it through. We have to send in rosters in advance which are not easily changed. Relays are best ran with kids practicing together. So kids were absent from practice, went days over break without running, and were not focused at all.
The day of the Districts the weather was cloudy and windy with tornado watches. One of the teams was late because of the weather advisory and the meet was delayed. The storm kept coming south and at 4pm the rains hit along with thunder and lightening. The event was finally postponed until Wednesday. This was fate for us because the kids were not mentally ready. We looked up in the coaches meeting and our kids were playing ultimate frisbee in the middle of the football field. The same kids too tired to run in events we asked of them. Absolutely no senior leadership. In fact they were behaving the worst of all. I lost my cool and gave a good tongue lashing about responsibility, team spirit and pride. They just looked on. When the rain came a few kids help clean up and we went home.
I was disgusted. All the effort to end like this. No body seemed to care. I came home and had a glass of wine and contemplated resigning after this year. I had failed as a motivator and coach.
Then I had a pep talk from my friend Sally. She suggested that maybe I focus more on individual personalities instead of a general message. She taught me her sales tactics of personalities and colors. Red was that of a very creative but somewhat of a stubborn individual. the kind you may lock horns with but ultimately a great asset. Blue was an individual motivated by emotion and words. Yellow individuals were very organized and did well given a task. Green were reward driven. All are needed for a team. Push the bottom to the middle and the middle will improve. So I thought might as well give it a chance. I thought about each kid and what would be there color. I had Addie and a friend make motivational posters with the words for the individuals I had come up with. I bought candy for rewards. Blue and pink PEEPs for the relays and other small candies. Meanwhile one of the seniors had sent texts to some of the kids to get fired up for Wednesday.
Wednesday came and what a difference a day makes. Kids were helping and stepping up to support the team. They cheered each other on and gave it there all. One senior ran so hard he threw up his days intake and more. Boys argued who would take his place in the final relay. The four chosen had never run together. They stood in the middle of the field pumping each other up as never before. They ran the strongest race of the 4 x 400M this entire year with each leg setting a personal best. They fell down together at the finished and gasped for air. The rest of the team cheered them on. The team huddled together for one last Cougar Pride chant. We did not place as a team at the Districts. The boys were 5th and girls 7th. Overall, the best showing of the boys for a long time. 7 athletes move on to regionals. But there is hope for Mooney track. Hope for team spirit and hope that these kids will have learned the value of hard work and the benefit of giving yourself to others.
You did good Mooney track team. I am proud.