Tuesday, October 28, 2008

After the Glory is Gone

The Value of Teammates after the Glory is Gone

The New York Marathon is coming up soon. Running a marathon is a great experience. It tests your physical and emotional condition no matter your level of fitness. Having run three (3) marathons, I hold a great deal of respect for anyone who can complete the 26.2 miles, no matter how fast.

Over the years, I have heard all kinds of reasons for a child or young adult to participate in sports. The reasons range from physical fitness, learning to work as a team, the joy of competition, what you learn on the field of competition will stay with you forever, etc. One you rarely hear is that your teammates will quite often be your friends forever. I trained for my NY Marathon with two friends and to this day, 25+ years later we can still call each other and pick up conversations as if we had only seen each other a few weeks ago. During those hours on the road you break down communication barriers and often develop your own shorthand language.

Kathy and I were lucky that four of our children participated in athletics from their grade school years through high school and then through college (a swimmer, two soccer players and a gymnast). Today many of their steadfast friends are former teammates. They periodically come together from all parts of the globe. It is fun to sit and watch as they reconnect quickly. Talking to my kids, they often report that they have spoken to a former teammate who is having a baby or having some difficulty in life. Their networking is amazing. It is great that they have a group of trusted friends to rely upon.

The New York Times this weekend carried a story about the former teammates of Ryan Shay . You may recall that Ryan was competing in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials for the marathon in New York City last November when at the five (5) mile mark he suddenly fell to the pavement. He died shortly thereafter of a heart issue. He was young, age 28 and in great racing shape. His death shocked the running world, not only because of his talent but because of his great competitive spirit. Many people counted him as a friend and competitor.

At this year's marathon, nineteen of his Notre Dame University teammates will be running the marathon wearing the Notre Dame racing singlets. Additionally, fifteen of his wife Alicia's family and friends will be running in Ryan's honor. For Alicia's family, the NY Times reports, many are not elite athletes but have taken up the challenge in Ryan's memory.

So if you get the chance to watch the marathon or read about it, pause for a second and consider how quickly life can flee. Ryan's family and friends searched for him at checkpoints along the road in that Olympic Trials race. All to no avail. Today they run in his memory. If you have children competing in sports, no matter the level, pay attention to the names of their teammates because they will be in their lives long after the glory and competitions have faded!

1 comment:

Pat Sunderhaus said...

I just hiked the Grand Canyon with 3 of my teammates and we will be friends forever.