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It was the night before one of the most exciting events in my life: I was competing for the State championship and all of the college recruiters were going to be there! My strongest competitor had also made the finals. She just happened to be my second cousin, Tracey. All of our family members would be in attendance, which in itself was a rare event.
After practice that night, I bathed and prayed. I had just laid down in bed with thoughts of the big race streaming through my mind. My body was full of invited excitement that night. My body is filled with invited anticipation of the day I have coming up; but Ii would not succumb to the anxiety that came with such an awesome event. The training I labored forced those harmful thoughts from seeping into my body and mind. I still wonder how I managed to sleep at all that night. I did, though. My sleep was surprisingly calm and invigorating, though as the new day drew nearer I unconsciously grew more fearful of what was to come.
As I awoke I found myself to be unexpectedly refreshed. My mind was completely overrun with excitement, yet I was already pumped. I gathered together my gear after breakfast and headed out. The two hour car ride to the meet went by in a minute as I fought to calm myself and focus on what I needed to do in the coming day. I recollected the memories of where I had been and what I was up against.
The main opponent's name was Tracey Dunbar, my second cousin. There were other competitors at the track meet, but my worries did not lie with them. I had easily taken the first place championship in the 100 yard dash for as long as I had competed in this event. Tracey, however, was the most phenomenal track star that I had ever had the honor of witnessing at my young age of seventeen. She was in my category and although she was the same rank, age, size, and speed as me, she exceeded me in almost every aspect of our training. Her feet were like lightning bolts and when she ran it was as though she had wings. She moved so swift you could barely see her feet hit the track, executing her form and techniques with near perfection. She exerted the power of an AmTrack train while appearing no larger than I.
Although I had never competed with her flawlessness before, victory did not seem unattainable. Even though she was extraordinary, she wasn't that much more extraordinary than me. I am not saying that she was not competent or even that she was not more experienced than I, for she most certainly was, but she just wasn't that much more than me. I still had an undefeatable hope that I could triumph over the biggest opponent of my time, for Tracey had one weakness: she was lazy. She did not enjoy practicing long hours or working hard, nor did she believe she had to. However this could be my way to winning the race.
My mind could not stay away from the times that I did not succeed in what I planned on, although I must admit that my record was very impressive. Never before had I had reservations about competing with someone. I played the piano, was the principal in the orchestra, and I was a Brownie Scout. I excelled in school, and was on the "A" honor roll from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Track was all I had left to complete before going to college. I held winning the championship so highly because my entire family was gathered to route me to victory, which had never happened before. In the earlier semester I had trained with so much heart and perseverance, putting all my effort into this single chance for honor. I trained with every second of every day of the week. I was running and preparing for this seasons races everyday after school by exercising and watching old videos of races that had already taken place. I drilled new techniques into my head and acquired much more speed than I remember having. It got to the point where running perfectly was just instinct. It seems to have passed too fast....
I was gruffly snapped back to reality by the sound of the car pulling up to the stadium. The track meet was upon me, and the anxiety built by a season of hopes and dreams was destroying my composure. In an instant I felt as though I was not remotely ready to face this day of reckoning. I remember the smell of a fresh day as I walked into the stadium. Soon after, I was stretching with the trainer and loosening up my muscles. I was ready for the race.
The day was a blur. I sat down on the warm grass, looked around and just became so immersed in the task at hand. Every part of me knew what I must do and every stress I had went away. When I came to my body became rigid with alertness and focus on my goal. The first set of events were exciting and electrifying, and the championship races had begun. To the right, my opponent Tracey looked as tranquil as if this were second nature. My senses were completely numb with adrenaline, and I walked onto the track. We spoke to each other briefly and the starter gave us the instructions. I'm completely sorry but my recollection completely failed me at this point, as I do not remember the race. I do faintly remember that when we reached the finish line our time was tied, and we were forced to run another race for the championship: whoever ran the fastest would be the winner. That seems to be the only thing that I do remember.
The damage to my body had been done after giving it my all; and now I find out that I have to run a whole separate race. I could not allow myself to lose, although I was completely worn out. I was supposed to run the last leg of the miles relay after the championship race, but with this additional event I now had to rest. Tracey appeared unfazed, but I could not allow her to deter me from my goal. Every single bone in my body knew what it needed to do and I was completely brought back to my previous races, and training. I took off and bolted past the starting line. Never in my life did I want something so bad, it was my main goal for so long. I almost taste the win coming up. I wanted to run the victory lap with the championship trophy, knowing that I was the best in the state and it was within my reach. This experience would change my life forever. This day changed me so much. It taught me the value of all my perseverance, and how much hard work could work in my favor. I knew that with practice, prayer, and perseverance I could compete with the best and win! For a moment, I was the best. I did win the race in record time. In the days that followed I was offered several scholarships to the following universities: Louisiana State University (LSU), Nicholls State University (NSU), Tulane University and McNeese State University (MSU).
Being the fact that my grandparents lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana I accepted the scholarship to LSU, Home of the Fighting Tigers! I was going to be the first person in my family to attend LSU and I was determined to make them proud. So, I trained every chance I could get and studied into the wee hours of the night. While at LSU, I had the pleasure of competing in several competitions and being a member of one of the most impressive championship track and field teams. My major was in Pre-Medical with a minor in Biology. During my third year at LSU, I received an internship at Fort Belvoir Army Base in Fairfax, Virginia. It was at Fort Belvoir that I found my reward in teaching.
My job was to teach the pre-kindergartner/kindergartner classes and counsel the students whose parents were deployed at war. The helplessness in the children's faces caused me to bond with them rather quickly. They did not know whether or not if their parents were going to be returning home. It was during that time that I believe the Lord lead me to have the compassion I possess today for helping people. Today, I work with several male youth that have committed some horrible crimes; however, I still believe that the Lord has directed my path to help assist the youth in becoming law-abiding citizens. As in the competition with my cousin, we must all be given the opportunity to face our opponents/ adversaries head on then decide to become successful in order to succeed. Selflessness, deciding to make a difference in someone's life, is not only a choice, it is a lifestyle!
Oh, by the way my cousin Tracey did not do too badâ€¦. She received a track scholarship from Southern University, Baton Rouge. Today, she too helps others. She owns several daycares and helps train youths on the junior summer track teams!