Published: Aug 14, 2012 05:25 PM
Modified: Aug 14, 2012 05:30 PM
As I learned to drive a tractor at the age of 8, I promised myself that I would go to college so that I would not suffer the sun in the tobacco field.
The sun at the beach in the middle of July is not as hot as the sun in a tobacco field. By the time I entered junior high school, I was ready for anything constructive that did not involve a field of golden leaves.
I joined Orange High Schools marching band while a student at Stanford Junior High School. I joined Stanfords track team and ran through high school. All done to secure a life free of blistering sun rays.
A suitable work environment must be considered when choosing a job. Ive never complained of hard work. I just need to be comfortable. My dream of an air-conditioned life lasted for a while. I went to college, worked at UNC Hospitals, went to law school and worked as a lawyer enjoying the comforts of air conditioning.
My sweet air-conditioned life came to a screeching halt the summer of 2008. That is when the children started running track with Durham Striders. When I suggested my sister do something with the children to stop them from running in, through and around my parents home, I obviously did not understand the impact of my words.
Yolanda informed me that she had enrolled them with Durham Striders. I thought nothing of it. I never imagined a team of that calibre accepting any child that participated. The Striders will not cut a child due to performance. They work with you to develop skills or you quit. My daughter and younger nephew do not have the word quit in their vocabulary.
The first summer of track was not so bad. In June of that year, I innocently took my daughter on vacation. Upon my return, I was scolded by a track parent for not bringing her to a meet. Sorry, I didnt know I couldnt take a vacation was my response. The scolding was easier to handle than the children. Once they realized theyd missed a meet, they were angry. How could you do that, mom? my daughter asked. Immediately I promised to make sure they were available for all their meets.
Each February I ask my daughter whether she wants to run. Each year I get the look that says have you lost your mind. Her verbal response is when will practice start?
Now, I am relegated to long, hot summers in the blistering heat. This was never in my plan for my life! At least I am not dizzy from diesel tractor fumes or subject to having tobacco worms thrown on me. Now I endure the heat as I wrap ankles and ice down hamstrings. I thought the fatigue of priming tobacco was unmatched, but I must say that 12 hours of working a medical tent at a track meet is close.
I begin each season filled with memories of the past season and much trepidation. I wonder if there will be another cardiac arrhythmia, case of Bells Palsy or shock from dehydration. I become paralyzed wondering if I will, again, receive a severed finger in a cup. I wonder how many hotels and how much money. Despite my worry, I saddle up and do it all over again.
This year the hard work paid off. Last weekend my daughter and a few teammates harvested the fruits of their labor during the USA Track and Field Junior Olympic Championships. Durham Striders won four gold medals, four silver medals and had 21 athletes finish in the top 8 in their events-all earning the title of All American.
Watching the Striders compete among the 8,209 participants in 101 degree heat had an humbling effect on me. What do I have to worry or complain about? I still work in an air-conditioned environment. The children work on a track that is 2-5 degrees hotter than the temperature in the seats of the stadium. They are receiving the blistering sun rays.
Tuesday morning, my daughter woke up saying Mommie, do you know that my national ranking means I am ranked throughout the United States?
I guess 12 hours in a medical tent in the blistering heat and multiple hotel stays isnt so bad after all.