One of the earliest memories running gave me was when I was probably 7 or 8 years old. My parents put me in CYO (Christian Youth Organization) Cross Country starting in Kindergarten. And in those early years I distinctly remember having my dad drive me to meets and we blared Smash Mouth’s All Star on the radio every time. I’m not sure what it was about that song, but it served as the best pre-race pump up song. And I now smile every time I happen to catch it on a throwback playlist.
Those memories on the way to XC meets are so special to me. I think the most important thing about any sport is to first find your love for it. And for many of us, it’s our parents that help us find that love. My dad helped to shape that positive experience with running from an early age, and his support continued over the years.
My parents made it to nearly every meet in middle school and high school, no matter the distance. From getting up early to make it to Cross Country meets across the state, to spending hours at a time at track meets. They even traveled with us to Alabama when our high school XC team chose to battle teams from different states in an attempt to better our chances at qualifying for NXN (Nike Cross Nationals), which we nearly did, if it weren’t for our sub-par performance at the state meet later that season.
I also remember him and my mom writing me motivational notes before the really special meets like Regionals, State, and the MAC Championship in college. I am forever grateful for the time that he (and my mom) spent supporting me and my love for running over the years. I know that as my kids get older, my dad’s support and influence over my positive relationship with sports will impact how I parent my own children. I can only hope that I do just as good of a job.
Thanks for everything, Dad. Love you and Happy Father’s Day!