Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Leap of Faith

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Leap of Faith

Article excerpt

My mother encouraged me to try out for track. I was one of those kids--head in the clouds, shy, feet too big. I didn't know what track was. But everyone--my older brother, my younger sister, and just about every other 5th through 8th grader at my school and all their brothers and sisters, too--had signed up for it. If you made the team (and just about everyone did), you were cool. I remember standing before the signup sheet, the slam of lockers in the hallway signaling the end of another day. I didn't want to be left out. I reluctantly added my name to the list.

The Sacred Heart School girls' track team had a reputation back then. It had never lost a meet. Ever. It certainly wasn't the uniforms that inspired us--threadbare white T-shirts with faded-to-pink lettering and in just about every case the wrong size. Nor was it the equipment (two hurdles, a high jump bar). Inspiration came from our coaches--Mr. Murphy, Wally, and Mr. and Mrs. M--who truly seemed to enjoy showing up for practice out on the church lot or, when available, the fancy rubber track behind the local public high school.

I look back and count up the hours they spent out there--often in cold wind or rain. Their dedication, generosity, and enthusiasm were remarkable. I remember swelling to full height each time Mr. M, hand on the back of my neck, clipboard pressed to his chest, took me aside and said, "What we're gonna have you do is ..." He had plans. For me. I was an essential part of something big. …

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