Since fourth grade I have run cross country and track, and I have cried plenty of times after a race. I really don’t know what was so exceptional about this meet….maybe it was the fact that I would never get to run a track meet in front of Raney again.
I didn’t know it at the time, but Raney was going to be moving back to Philadelphia the summer after my 7th grade year. She reached out to me in a way I can’t describe. Raney has empowered me and helped me to become who I am today.
It was the city track meet, and I had just run my 1600m (1 mile) race. I was sobbing, I had a cramp the size of Timbuktu and I had tried as hard as I could…but it wasn’t enough. I hadn’t made finals and that thought alone made me want to punch a wall; I was so mad. I was walking off the brownish red, IUPUI track, and tears were streaming down my face. As I stumbled up the ramp to my teams’ tent, I saw my coach waiting for me. Raney walked towards me, and presented me with the biggest hug I could have asked for. I needed that hug like nothing else; I was so angry and disappointed in myself that all I wanted was a little praise. It was that little gesture that has changed me and I haven’t been the same ever since.
What compelled Raney to hug me, I am not sure. I was hot, sweaty, and covered with tears. Yet she did. That simple hug from Raney brought me closer to her. Before that moment, she had just been another mom of a cross country runner, a coach to a certain extent. Then the next thing I knew, she was a role model to me. She had taken on the demeanor of someone that I could look up to and trust. Even though she now lives over 300 miles away, I know that I can still depend on Raney. The few times I have seen her since she left, she has been just as supportive and uplifting as when she was my coach. She is even considering being my Confirmation sponsor.
I have a hard time imagining why that hug changed me so drastically, but it did. Suddenly I wasn’t afraid to take a risk, or push myself to the limit. I think it may be because I finally realized that if I was ever overwhelmed or struggling, that someone would be there to help me through it. I believe that without that recognition, I wouldn’t have had the courage to do some of the things that I have done. I had the courage to shave my head, ask to be moved up a level in swim, and I even got a job. I learned that a little hug can go a long way, it can empower a person.
I hope someday that I will be able to inspire someone with such a simple action like my coach, Raney, inspired me. I have never doubted her strength or support. She will always be there for me and for that I will always be grateful. Without Raney I don’t think I would be running still, and that is something I simply cannot imagine.
My journey is not over yet, but hopefully with the knowledge that I have gained from role models like Raney; I will be able to make a success of my life. With high hopes I look ahead, with aspirations that do not have a limit. And to think…all of this is from a hug.