A Plan

IMG_5813“How do you do it all,” I asked as he sat across the desk from me.

I’m not sure Caleb Herman gave me an answer that day last week. 

After getting the opportunity to read his blog entry all I can say is this: If something is important to you, you will find the time and you will find a way to make it happen.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who simply say “you’ve got to want it more”. 

No, it’s not that simple.

But if you lay out a plan, you give yourself a chance.

A chance.

That’s all Caleb wanted coming out of high school…..a chance to keep running track while attending college.

Maybe running would last for a  year.  Maybe he could squeeze out another four seasons but he had a lot of other plans too.

Pre-med, a summer in Guatemala, a semester in Spain…..I asked where running track fit into this college experience.

I’m finding out I’m learning a lot more from our students than I ever thought I would.

Caleb’s come a long way from that fifth grader I coached in youth basketball and I’m glad I had a seat along the way to watch the transformation happen.

Are we helping to prepare our student-athletes for the rigors of post-college life?  

Yes, yes I think we are.

mbyk

 

Running has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have vivid memories of “helping” my dad coach his high school team, watching near the edge of the long jump pit as he corrected the form of every jumper.

I recall running around the Orange City golf course day after day in order to train for my middle school track meets.

All two of them.

By the time I reached high school, running had become such an integral part of who I was that it seemed only natural that I would run for our track and field team. I was far from the star athlete of our team, but this never stopped me from being passionate about the sport. When my four years of competitive running came to a close, I realized that I was not quite ready to give it up.

My decision to run track at Dordt was more a shot in the dark than anything else. While I loved my track and field experience in high school, I was an average athlete at best.

My decision to run track at Dordt was more a shot in the dark than anything else. While I loved my track and field experience in high school, I was an average athlete at best.

I remember filling out some online form with my best times from high school and praying that they would be good enough to give me an opportunity to continue running at the collegiate level. I knew that my chances were slim, but as my mouse hovered over the “submit” button, I knew that I could not accept the idea of never running competitively again.

Was I really sure that I wanted to take on a college sport?

Did I think that I would have enough free time with everything else I already had on my plate?

To be honest, I wasn’t sure how it would all work out, but I was willing to give it a try.

I came into my freshman year as a biology, pre-med student. Somewhere in the first few weeks I decided that I wanted to major in Spanish as well. I had only taken one year of high school Spanish, so this was not an intuitive choice.

All of these decisions led to many packed full semesters of classes, labs, and music rehearsals. Yet among the busyness of my major and classes, I still have been able to enjoy a level of success on the track in my four years of competition.

Rather than being overwhelmed by a collegiate sport, what I found is that track was more than just another activity on my already full plate.

Track became my escape from the craziness of my daily life. It has been the one place I can get away from lab reports, assignments, or tutoring sessions. Track has been my release.

Full day of classes? I can run off the stress on the track.

A rough biology test? Nothing that some repeat 200s can’t fix.

For me, the sport of track and field is not a burden; often, it is the highlight of every day.

After my sophomore year at Dordt, I decided to apply for an internship position at a hospital in rural Guatemala. This choice aligned with my career goals: a medical setting where I could improve my Spanish. I loved every minute of my time there. The doctors and nurses were wonderful, and I learned so much about medical practice in a developing country, not to mention the tremendous growth that I saw in my grasp on the Spanish language.

Nevertheless, I knew that I could not take an entire summer off of training and still expect to compete at a high level when I returned to Dordt.

So, I packed my running shoes and a jump rope and hoped that I would have the opportunity to use them in Guatemala.

So, I packed my running shoes and a jump rope and hoped that I would have the opportunity to use them in Guatemala. Since Guatemala was in the rainy season during my two-month stay, I often could not venture outside in order to run.

Instead, after each long day in the clinic, I would return to my stuffy room in the hospital compound, clear a spot on the floor, turn the fan on high, and, as the sun set over the lush mountainsides of Guatemala, I jumped some rope.

As a Spanish major, I was required to spend a semester living in a Spanish-speaking country.

My freshman year I stenciled a semester in Spain into my four-year plan. In order to make this work, I had to overload on credits almost every other semester, but I felt that it would be worth it.

So, in the fall of 2018 I found myself living and learning in the beautiful city of Seville, Spain. There is no better way to learn a language or culture than to immerse yourself fully with help of wonderful professors, and I loved every minute of my time overseas.

However, after a successful season of track my junior year, competing at both indoor and outdoor nationals, I was unsure of how a semester abroad would affect my training. Fall workouts are crucial to a successful track season, and I knew I would get back to the U.S. only weeks before our first track meet.

Unfortunately, the closest track to me in Spain was a thirty-minute bike ride away. Nevertheless, I made the trek several times a week. I found a connection running the same workouts as my team, knowing that even though we were on opposite sides of the globe, we were still working together to make our season the best it could be.

I found a connection running the same workouts as my team, knowing that even though we were on opposite sides of the globe, we were still working together to make our season the best it could be.

Does track make my life more complicated, adding more responsibilities and commitments to every week?

Probably.

Would I be able to devote more time to my major or my studies if track was not in the picture?

It’s possible.

So why do I do it?

I do it for the people.

For the way we spur one another on with encouraging words, the excitement over a teammate’s new PR, and the support for whatever race is on the track. I do it for the freedom I find on that 400-meter oval. For the few hours a day when all I have to worry about is moving my legs.

I do it for the common goals, the workouts that break our bodies down so that we’ll be stronger the next time.

But most importantly, I do it because I know that when I lay my best down on that track, I bring glory to God.

But most importantly, I do it because I know that when I lay my best down on that track, I bring glory to God.

I am so thankful for the opportunity I have had to run track at Dordt College, and I cannot wait to see where this final season will take me.

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