When going through belongings from my childhood bedroom, I found among them something very special. It was a speech I had written and presented at my end-of-season track & field banquet as a senior in high school. This speech, written as a poem, depicts memories of my time on the team and offers some advice to the underclassmen.
After I rediscovered the document, I read it. Although years have passed since I was a high school senior, I was moved by the content. Being part of a team is something special–something not to be taken for granted. Whether it’s a sports team, church community, family, etc., many of us have a “team” in our lives. Being part of a team gives us the opportunity to build up and encourage others. When we serve our brothers and sisters, living a life of love, we grow in the process.
I hope you enjoy reading the speech I wrote those years ago. I removed some parts and sections that are specific to certain people (including names). Some I left in there (though unnamed). If you are one of those people, perhaps you’ll recognize the parts for you.
I’m so appreciative of the coaches, family, friends, and teammates who have had a positive impact on my life. Thank you.
Everyone wants to be remembered, I think it’s safe to say,
But how will they remember me—did I affect them any special way?
I see many faces, complexions, personalities, all sitting here before,
And some may wonder “What if…,” what if we don’t see each other anymore?
Track is a sport, an activity, that many would say that they do,
But I would venture to say, that it’s something deeper within you.
We all share a certain bond, we’ve grown as family, we’ve grown as friends.
We’ve gone through the rain together, experiencing workouts that never end.
I’m convinced relationships grow tighter, when you share in pain and understand fatigue.
You know a friend is yours forever, when they don’t care how much you reek.
Laughs, giggles, yells, cheers, sometimes crying too,
Frustrated explanations of what we could better do.
We’ve been there for each other through victory and defeat,
Been there to see our friends rise up, today, and at this meet.
Sometimes pain and injury have come in and left some hurtin’,
But we’re a team, we’re a family, and we help carry each other’s burdens.
We carry them in a good way though, we don’t weigh down each other,
When one can’t run, that just means they must hop on the back of another.
Both athletes turn out stronger, are more experienced in the end,
The one who learned to carry, and the other who learned to depend.
We have many memories here, many lessons we have learned,
Memories of winning, smiling, cheering, and others of being burned.
Those times we walked up the hill, year after year after year,
When our legs already started to hurt, made some look at the track with fear.
The times we jogged the warm-up run, and thought, “This feels like a workout,”
To the times we sprinted around the track, our very depths wanting to shout.
There were times we lifted and did wall sits, singing to ease the pain,
And times some didn’t push or run through the line, and coaches yelled, “Again!”
The small things some take for granted, like stretching or chilling on the track,
May find new significance, when in the future we look back.
So those of you on the team, this year and years to come,
Never underestimate the gift you’ve been given, and don’t be afraid to be someone!
Push yourself beyond what you can imagine, and bring others with you,
Don’t hold anything back, and see what you can truly do.
Be a leader, be a friend, step up to the plate when others cry,
Don’t give way to complacency, raise the standard and over it you’ll fly.
Meets are a different story, nerves pounding the entire day,
From the moment you go to bed before, until determining if your time’s okay.
Be careful who you talk to, people handle nerves in their own way.
You might find yourself in an anchor position, without really having a say.
“Run fast,” “Throw far,” “Jump long,” are thoughts pressing on our minds.
We want to take the lead, and then not look behind.
But what if we don’t win, what if expectations are shattered?
First is not the only winner—give your all and that’s what matters.
I think it’d be appropriate, in this time and in this place,
To mention some of the people, who have prepared us to race…
[Coach Name] always wears a smile, but at times you must be wary.
She has a smile for being happy, and a smile for being angry.
[Coach Name] is very cheer-y and comes to practice ready to go,
And when the guys do something weird, her expression lets us know.
Thanks for being so willing to lend a helping hand.
You encourage the aspect of a team, not just a single strand.
Oh man, this one was hard, [Coach Name], what can I say?
I want to do something special for you, and I’m going to do it this way.
You taught me to push myself, be straightforward on and off the track.
When I’m hurting, feel like quitting, you pick up where I lack.
I’ll never forget your pep talks, and the way you raised my head.
I’ll never forget the goals we reached, and where it started at that shed.
Back to the team, thank you all on behalf of the State High Seniors.
Make sure next season when you come back, your game face is looking meaner.
We want to be remembered, but I know new memories grow.
It’s important to look forward and move on, but how do you watch friends go?
So don’t erase us, don’t replace us, with the new and upcoming stars.
We hope to remain in your hearts, as you will remain in ours.