India has always been on my list as one of the countries I have wanted to visit, so when I was told that our big meet of the year for the high school track team that I coach would be in Chennai, I got really excited. I knew that it would be a busy trip where I wouldn’t have much time to explore, but what I didn’t know was that it would be a grueling slog that I would have to push my way through.
The meet took place at the American International School of Chennai, an all day travel day from the place I live and work in Jordan. It is never easy to guide twenty students, a majority of whom were middle schoolers, through the process of getting on planes and working their way through customs, so they could compete in this event. The meet itself was a three day affair where events were taking place early in the morning, and went until late in the evening where we were whisked back to our hotel. It allowed enough time to decompress for a bit before having to crawl into bed so we could do it all over again the next day. I have been on trips like this before, and this was just another example of how a busy five-day schedule could wear somebody out.
Despite the grueling schedule, the trip was totally worth it. We had spent a couple of months getting our athletes ready for this event. At times, they wondered why we were working them so hard, but when they got out there, they were able to see how fast they could run, how high they could jump, and how far they could throw puts, and discuses.
Track has always been one of my favorite sports. I enjoy watching the events, and it is even more fun when I am able to be out on the track, coaching my athletes through their long distance races. It is fun to watch the grit that these kids have finally pay off. training takes a long time to get ready for one of these events, and it is hard to come after a hard day at school to push one’s self to lift weights and run laps when you don’t see any payoff during that whole time. Finally, they got to show off what they could do.
But it was not just the medals that the kids won that made this trip so great. We weren’t able to do the cultural thing which I love to experience so much while going on a trip like this, but we were able to connect with other students from other countries, and get to know each other better. There is a bonding experience that only happens at a track meet. It is not just with the members of your own team, but also with the members of the other teams as well. You might go out and run a race against another individual, and you might win or lose, but in the end, you are both congratulating each other for the battle that had just ensued. Even on occasion, you will even pick each other up from the track, or give advice about how to do an event better. You push each other to do better while collaborating to be better yourself. I do not think that there is another sport out there that allows for this kind of dynamic, and I love it.
So, the trip on a whole wore me out, and it might take me longer to recover from it than how long I was out there experiencing the whole event. It required me to show a little grit myself, but it was still worth every moment. I am glad, just like my students, that I saw that grit through.