This summer, my sons have been training with a semi-retired pole vaulting coach, who is nothing short of a legend in our small town, Mumford Leake. We meet once per week and he works with them on the techniques associated with pole vaulting. He’s also introduced them to the shot put, discus and hurdles during our time together. These weekly workouts have been the highlight of my summer. This may seem a little odd, that the highlight of my summer wasn’t some epic adventure or grand vacation. However, watching Coach Mumford instill in my kids the same love and passion he has for track and field has brought a lot to all of us on those early Monday mornings.
As our summer of field event training has come to as close, and I think back on what they’ve learned, it’s some of the most basic lessons that sports can teach you. How to overcome adversity, literally… and how to be brave enough to try new things, even if you aren’t good at them. Each of the boys have gravitated to one field event more than the other. Brooks really likes doing the pole vault, and while Ridge thinks vaulting is fun, he seems more engaged in the throwing events. While my hope is that they continue learning these sports and participate in track in the spring season, (they are baseballers at heart… so fingers crossed), I will always be grateful for this summer mornings at the track and the lessons they’ve learned.
I’ve always told them that we put them in sports so they can learn important life lessons, like how to be a good teammate, how to overcome adversity, and how to win and lose with grace. While they’ve learned a bit of these things on their own this summer, we also got to watch these lessons play out on the world stage at The World Athletics Championships for 10 days in July. Nightly, we’d watch the events which were full of incredible feats of athleticism, speed, and strength that were capped off with victorious moments of athletes draped in their country’s flags being celebrated by all in attendance. However, the moments that stood out the most, were the moments of defeat, specifically in the pole vaulting finals. As the bar rose higher and higher, the number of athletes started dwindling and as each athlete missed their final attempt, they graciously bowed and waved to the crowd. Each one took a moment to literally “bow out” of the competition and they did so with dignity and grace, which left a lasting impression upon all of us.
In sports as in life, we can’t always win, and having a gracious attitude in those moments that don’t go our way, says so much about our character.