One of my duties as the head coach at Sacred Heart Cathedral and as the President of the Pamakid Runners, is to present awards at year-end type celebrations. This is something I really look forward to every year. I love trying to put into words a memorable message so that not only is the recipient receiving a trophy, medal, plaque, or varsity letter but they are also hearing heartfelt words that they will remember forever.
One reason this is so important to me is that I still remember winning awards in high school and going home and replaying the introductory words from Coach Wilson in my head over and over. It sure made me feel good. That’s why, even though it’s a lot of work, I always spend a lot of time writing my award presentation speeches. Over the years I’ve found that it gets deathly quiet when I present awards as everyone in the room is listening intently on what I am saying…all the more reason to get it right.
In my opening comments, I always try to paint a picture for the audience about what the atmosphere was like on the team during the season. My goals are to both get the audience to realize how important the sport is to us on the team and to also praise the team for a job well done. This is usually done by re-counting a story about something that happened during the season that was praiseworthy.
A proper award presentation includes many elements. I like to state the facts using numbers (time, place) so that people understand what a great accomplishment this person has achieved. To do this I often will include how many people were in the race (“they were fifth out of eighty total runners”) or how big a personal record (PR) it was (“their time was 16:02, which was a :39 PR”). I also try to insert some sort of humor into the speech. I think this keeps the speech interesting and while the audience laughs, I can take a breath. Finally, I like to tell some story about the award recipient that most people probably don’t know. It usually tells more about the award winner’s character than their running achievement. This is often the most emotional part of the speech. It lets the person know that they are more than just a number and a stat. They are a person that has touched my life as an athlete and this is my way of giving thanks.
Last week was award presentation week. The SHC Cross Country Awards banquet was on Wednesday and the Pamakid Runners Holiday Gala was on Friday. I found myself busy at the computer typing up scripts all week and then I found myself at the podium, speaking into the microphone presenting awards.
What follows are snippets of some of my favorite lines of last week.
On having everyone attend WCAL Finals, with no one cutting for the SF Giants Parade
A measure of how important cross country ranks to the members of this team was exemplified when every single person came to WCAL Finals even though we had a special schedule at school so students could attend the SF Giants Parade. I heard stories from almost every other WCAL team about how they were missing at least one person because of the parade. But the team that was less than a mile from the action, our team, had everyone in attendance at their first priority of the day – the WCAL Finals.
The Varsity Boys at CCS
At CCS the Varsity Boys were in a battle with North Monterey County (NMC) for the last spot to go to the State Meet. Our mantra was to have six solid races and one hero. No one was supposed to try to be a hero in the first mile. Everyone was supposed to try to be a hero in the last mile. NMC was ahead of us at the mile mark, but just as we had planned, we worked the middle and came away with the coveted State Meet qualifying spot.
On the historic event of both teams qualifying for the State Meet
It was the dream scenario – both teams to State Meet! The quote of the week was, “You didn’t have to make history. On Saturday, history found you.”
On the Senior Class
These seniors have shown that you can enjoy and contribute to this program regardless of your varsity status. Only two of these seniors have extensive varsity experience. The rest have run mostly Frosh/Soph (F/S) and Junior Varsity (JV) races during their time at SHC. But they have brought a varsity mentality to our JV and F/S teams – they take their training and their racing seriously and they bring positive energy to the team. I love that, and I thank them for that. Because on this team, you don’t earn respect based on how fast you are. You earn respect based on how hard you work. We have eight hard working seniors.
The Most Dedicated to the Team Award
I’ve been impressed with how he welcomes newcomers to the team and how he mentors teammates to help them improve – whether it’s helping with race plans, pushing people to run fast striders, or just general motivating. Honestly, he has all the makings of a great coach, so maybe someday he’ll come back and be on my coaching staff. I don’t think you could ask for a better teammate; he’s someone who goes out of his way to help you and as the saying goes, “would give you the shirt off his back.”
The Most Inspirational Award
At State I kept cheering her on, reminding her there was only a mile left in her high school cross country career, and then 1200 meters left, and then 400 left. Sometimes an inspirational athlete comes along whose story will not only highlight a season but whose story will live on in team history. Life is about being tough and always battling to the end. When you do that, sometimes you surprise yourself with what you can achieve. Realistically she should have run 22:40 at State. An ambitious goal was 22-flat. Thanks for saving a 21:12 for your last race, Juliana.
Recounting the Pamakid Runners club history:
That club would be named PaMaKids and the mascot would be a bird named Soonar, part eagle and part sea gull, that would fly overhead to protect the children during a run.
A toast to the people who brought us together:
In fact, I think it’s appropriate to take a moment and think of more people that are responsible for who you are and how you ended up a Pamakid Runner. Your parents, your loved ones, the hundreds of Pamakids who have kept the club vibrant for 40 years, maybe the coach that got you started in running, or the friend who told you that you looked good in green and did they have a club for you. To all those people, who helped bring all of us to be together in this room tonight, I say CHEERS!
Pamakids Online Contributor of the Year:
As Pamakids celebrates its fortieth year, like many middle-aged adults reaching their fortieth, it was time to change with the times. This crazy thing they call the internet looks like it’s going to be here to stay. And so as to not miss the boat and seem like old foggies, the Pamakids needed to update our web presence. That’s where this guy came in…
Ah, the Google document and Facebook! How did the club function without them?! Or better yet, how could the club function without the human element behind the Google documents and Facebook.
A special award this year for Online Contributor of the Year – Anders Ryerson.
The introductory comments for Pamakid of the Year
My wife likes to say I can’t keep a secret. Well, this time, I did…but it wasn’t easy. If this introductory speech for the 2010 Pamakid of the Year doesn’t sound as eloquent as usual…if the witty remarks aren’t as plentiful…if the jokes aren’t as funny…if it’s a little long winded…well, my usual editor was unavailable to edit this particular speech.
Pamakid of the Year, helping with the mascot costume:
She spent the weekend before the XC Championships helping Yvonne and her sister with the Soonar mascot costume that made its debut at the XC Champs. If you didn’t hear, at the XC Champs, the men came in tenth, the women came in seventh, and the mascot came in first!
Ain’t this the truth:
And maybe why Pamakids thanks her the most: she is the sounding board for all ideas that come from the Pamakid President and Coach. It usually goes like this:
Andy: “I was thinking.” Malinda: “Don’t do that.”
Some ideas are good. Some ideas are not so good. Some ideas come to fruition. Others die a quick death, seconds after they are suggested. But believe me, ALL ideas…ALL ideas are verbalized at our house.
Pamakid of the Year
And we haven’t even talked about her running yet. A steady training schedule that included two days swimming, one track workout, one HOHD run, and either a race or long run on the weekend, got her into the best running shape of her life. Plus, I think she really figured out how to race this year – to have a plan, follow-it, and push through the pain in the late stages of the race.
- While most of us are happy with age-graded PR’s, she is setting both age-graded PR’s and overall PR’s.
- PR’s fell in the road mile (6:16) and just last week in the 5K (20:27)
- She ran her fastest half marathon in 10 years.
- She was the only Pamakid woman to run at all 10 cross country races.
- Included in that was a 4:32 PR at Shoreline and her first sub-30 on the traditional GG Park cross country course.
Yes, what a year 2010 has been.
I cleared some space on the mantle for this one, honey. I give you the 2010 Pamakid of the Year – Malinda Walker.