A Growing Experience

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate December 2001

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A Growing Experience I was sitting with my dad in the grandstands at my last home track meet. It was a cloudy Thursday afternoon and I was all warmed up for the 800-meter race. Before all my races I sit with my dad and talk about my strategies, "now Scott, what is your goal for today," as he would always ask me with a smile on his face. My dad goes to all my meets and I can say he is my number one fan and a huge role model to me. It gives me a feeling of love and confidence to have him there. He is not just a fan, but also one of my coaches. He ran track through college, so he is experienced and loves the sport. I have never run the 800-meter race in my track experience; so for my last meet I decided to give it a go.

There were 28 guys lined up ready to race, some wearing gloves and some with stocking caps. It was so cold you could see your own breath, but all determined to finish in the top three. The race was quick, and I was not sure what I was getting myself into. Yet, I finished with a time of two minutes and seven seconds. I was shocked that not only did I finish with such an awesome time, but I also got first place. This race was just the beginning of many more to come.

The next week I was called into my coach's office and was told that I qualified for the league championships. I was so surprised but also at the same time was scared and nervous. I trained for the next week and Thursday I went to the track meet with my coach. There were the best runners, throwers, and jumpers from the league here in one stadium. Some were very anxious and some totally frightened. I was amazed at the size of the crowd and I was totally nervous but at the same time pumped up. I was ranked last out of the sixteen runners in my race and was quite disappointed. I sat down with my father and he told me how proud he was for me to be here and giving it all I had. I warmed up and did all my usual rituals and felt pretty calm for the race. The race was full of pushing and eagerness to win. I only remember the start and then hugging my coach at the finish line. I got fourth place and was the happiest man on the track that day. As I arrived at the finals the next day, I found out that the top six out of eight went to districts. This was good news and meant I only had to beat two runners. I got to the finals early to get motivated and to have some quiet time to myself. I ran a personal best of two minutes and two seconds. I was on my way to districts.

Who would have ever thought that I would end up at districts and extend my season one more week? I was astonished to be running against the elite sixteen in only a few days. The weekend came and my parents were at our cabin and away for a few days. I was quite disappointed that my dad was going to miss my race. It brought my father and I together and was a bonding experience for both of us, but I was so ready for the race that it was okay. Districts were enormous. I warmed up with a few guys I met at league and we all talked about the race and hopes for state. We then wished each other good luck. The race was intense and the crowd was louder than normal. It was very awkward not getting a pep talk from my dad and hearing his voice, but I knew he was thinking of me. I finished fourth place and advanced to the finals, with a time of one minute and fifty-eight seconds. But there was no father at the finish line to give me a hi-five and a hug. It was different and I felt a little abandoned in a way. My dad who was my coach and role model was not there. I was not only astonished to advance to the finals but also my improvement from the last two weeks. I sat down next to my coach after the race and put my arm around him and asked him when he would want me here tomorrow. He said, " Your race is at seven o clock so be here around five." The smile on my face was glowing a mile long with hopes and encouragement for the race. I was only one race away from state, and I destined to get there.

I drove to the stadium on that clear brisk spring afternoon. As I walked into the stadium that day with hopes and dreams to finish in the top seven out of eight, little did I know they would all be shattered in minutes. I walked slowly up to the team and took it all in and noticed so many people just staring at me and wondering what the heck Scott Stockstad is doing here. I sat down next to my head coach and he told me some terrifying news. He said," Scott, where have you been? You missed your race and I have been worried sick about you." I didn't believe him and thought it was a joke, until about ten other coaches told me the same news. Frantically, I grabbed my bag and ran to the end of the field sobbing and wanting my dad to hold me, but he was not there when I needed him the most. I felt empty inside and abandoned by my dad not being there and my coach breaking my heart. I didn't want to believe that this was happening to me. The boy who motivated himself to achieve his dreams and got so hurt because his coach messed up and told him the wrong time. My distance coach was crying on my shoulder along with me and apologizing over and over. I was really mad at my coach and did not want to talk to him, but my dad was not there and I needed someone. I was pissed off at my coach, but what would you do when a grown male is sobbing in your arms. I held him like a baby and felt the great sorrow and care he had for me.

This was not only the biggest tragedy in my life but also the biggest growing experience I have ever been through. I cried myself to sleep night after night asking God why it had to be me. I have gone back to the track about a dozen times since then to run the race by myself and to have time alone. There will always be a spot in my heart that is empty and waiting to be filled. It is an empty feeling that comes up everyday. I know I will accomplish dreams in my life and it will eventually fade away. I don't blame my coach for this whole incident, but forgave him for making a human mistake. This has got me closer to him and to my family, as they all helped me through my pain. We talked about how I felt but not to hold a grudge against my coach and to keep my head up and to move on. I ended up at state on the field watching and cheering on all my new friends achieve their goals. Two runners who dedicated their race to me and wrote my name on their shoulder and placed third and fifth in state will be in my hearts forever.