Sacrificing Graduation to Race
The sports of track & field and running require a great deal of sacrifice. Whether you are a lifelong adult runner, an elite runner, college team member, or high school athlete, there are sacrifices you must make in order to be successful. The main sacrifice is usually time. It takes time to train. Time to go for a long run, or do your core workout, or to ice a nagging injury. Much of the training required to be the best you can be is not glamorous but most of us who do it consider the opportunity to set a personal record or compete at the highest level that we can, well worth the sacrifice.
Today I share a story about two seniors I coach on the Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory (SHCP) track & field team who had to make a big sacrifice last weekend. As fate would have it the SHCP graduation fell on the same day as the Central Coast Section (CCS) Track & Field Trials. We’ve had this conflict in the past and athletes have had to leave graduation early (Nick Lien ’03, Jason Kobuchi ’04, and Christina Young ’04) or had to come to the meet immediately after the ceremony (Andy Lee ’03, Michelle Gallagher ’03, Tammia Hubbard ’09). But this year the student-athletes had to choose one or the other. With graduation scheduled for 10:00 A.M. and CCS Trials starting at 11:00 A.M. in Gilroy,one and a half hours south of San Francisco, it was impossible to do both.
I had anticipated this conflict at the beginning of the season but didn’t want to jinx our chances of qualifying to compete by bringing it up too soon. Two weeks before the league final I finally told the seniors that, if they qualified for CCS Trials, they and their parents would have a difficult decision to make. At the league final on Friday night May 14, the boys 4X100 relay team of sophomore Michael Munchua, junior Gary Moore, senior Marcus Del Bianco, and senior Doug Parrish qualified for CCS Trials. Now came decision time.
All along the boys were telling me they were going to skip graduation to run CCS Trials. But I encouraged them to go home and talk it over with their families. It wasn’t until Monday that both athletes and their families officially agreed to skip graduation for the meet.
I worked with the SHCP administration to make sure Marcus and Doug were properly recognized at other senior ceremonies during graduation week. I also worked out a secret plan to have a mini-graduation ceremony for them at the track after the CCS Trials meet. I got their diplomas from the registrar. One assistant coach downloaded pomp and circumstance onto his iPod. Another assistant coach brought mini speakers. I made arrangements to have a cap and gown for both Marcus and Doug down in Gilroy. And I dusted off my own hood and gown so that I would be properly attired to present the diplomas. The rest of the team and the families were told to meet on the warm-up field at the end of the meet for the surprise graduation ceremony.
What followed was a touching ceremony where I got to let Marcus and Doug know how much I appreciated the sacrifice they had made to run at the CCS Trials Meet.