The other day I returned to my high school football field. It was the first time I had been there in more than 20 years. I was there to see my daughter run in the sectional meet for her track team. It was the first year of the school and the first time the girls would compete in a sectional meet and the sectional at my high school alma mater was said to be the toughest in the state.
There were 13 freshman girls on the team but only nine, the coach informed me, showed up for the track meet. Girls had to run races that they were not used to running to fill in for other girls.
It was only the second year that my daughter had run track. She ran the 800 (two times around the track) in eighth grade. My husband, who ran track in high school, was convinced that our daughter’s race was the 400 (one time around) but the coach that year didn’t put her in the 400 race.
“That’s her race,” he assured me. I agreed. But we told her to do her best in the 800 and her time would come to show what she could do in the 400. At the sectional meet in eighth grade, I told her before she ran, “Leave it all on the track.” She took off and in the first lap of the race she was way ahead of the other girls. The first time around, her coaches and teammates were excited. “She’s going to state! She’s going to state!” they yelled.
I was on the cell phone with my husband who hadn’t been able to attend. I was giving him a blow by blow on the cell phone. He told me what to tell her as she came around the bend the first time. I was yelling his instructions to her from the sidelines.
But by the second lap, she ran out of steam and out of first place, just missing the opportunity to go to state.
But now she was in high school. Throughout the season I had been to every track meet, providing water, snacks and cheers for the fledgling team. Our daughter did well in cross country so her coach wanted to put her in the distance races. We asked him to give her a chance to try the 400.
“The 400 is her race,” my husband said. I agreed.
My husband decided to coach our daughter himself for “her race.” He started taking her to the track after school, timing her, teaching her the fundamentals, giving her advice, showing her proper techniques and track meets on television. The evening before sectionals I took her to the track because Coach Dad was working. I timed her and tried to offer some advice about running (although I never ran track in high school. I was on the football field being a pom pom girl.) She promptly told me, “But Daddy said…” I deferred to Daddy. “Do whatever Daddy said,” I told her.