[ From last Spring Track and Field Compitition]
Now that should be rewarded! Sure there are a lot of competitions and accomplishments that get rewarded. The Stanley Cup is rewarded to the best National Hockey Team – a prized trophy revered by many. There is the Olympic medal given to those athletes that have committed the past four years of their lives to compete in a sport that may only last 10 seconds to three minutes long. Those events and rewards mark an athlete’s true sacrifice to their sport. It’s also symbolic of their families’ commitment to ensure a network of support to help their prized young athletes succeed. This award I’m speaking of has no monetary value. It was a simple third place ribbon at an elementary track and field meet. My son Fraser was competing in his track meet in the 100 meter and 200 meter sprints. He is a wonderful boy who loves to compete – I wonder where he gets that from my wife often reminds me. I feel he likes the adrenaline of the competition and the excitement it provides. He is intense and always tries his hardest – what else is there to be successful in sport? This is a big question with lots of possible answers. Grit determination and some would even say the killer instinct. The day was perfect for an outdoor competition. The sky was blue with white puffy clouds. The breeze was cool but the sun rays hot. I left work at lunch hoping to see any of my son’s competitions that day. I arrived at Nelson Stadium to a mass of kids, teachers, volunteers and parents. Every school colour was plastered in the grand stands. Kids were screaming and cheering for their school mates. The competition that day was electric. One parent who I don’t even know leaned forward to tell me that Fraser was doing great. A fourth place in the 400m and first place in the 100m qualifiers. “That’s great I said he loves to compete”, I said. “You’re just in time for the finals”, she said. I weaved my way through the vast array of colours, screams and lunch bags. I found some children from Fraser’s school and asked of his whereabouts. “Down there hanging on the bar, he said he was going to take it easy before the big race”, the little guy said. “Thanks”, I said and continued to press through the crowd. There he was my beautiful son standing by himself waiting patiently for his opportunity for glory. An opportunity to shine, excel and possibly be crowned number one – a champion of sorts. It would be a chance to lean his mighty little chest forward to break the finish line tape ahead of his competition. It could be a chance for Fraser to throw his hands up high – as if he were having his picture taken for a cereal box. It’s a chance to collect an award stating you were number one that day. Similar to life, we all just want chance. “Hi Fraser” “Hi Dad, you made it” he said. “I understand you are doing O.K.”, I said. “Ya, I got 4th in the 400 and 1st in my heat for
the 100”he beamed. “That’s great”, I said proudly. “Are you staying for the finals Dad”? “I wouldn’t miss them, I will be up in the stands watching have fun and don’t forget Fraser, I love you”. As I turned to take my place up in the bleachers, Fraser said “wait Dad”. I am also filling in for a boy on the relay team he is not feeling well. The race is after the 100 meters”. The finals were about to begin. My heart was thumping and I wasn’t even in the race. I felt the rush and energy of the upcoming race. ‘Do well’ I thought to myself. As if my thoughts have some magical powers to remind him from the bleachers to do something he already knows. ‘Bang’ the starter gun goes off. Within seconds 3 boys emerged from the pack. One boy just in front and the other stride for stride right beside him. In a flash its over, a respectable third place. ‘Close but no cigar’ goes the saying. The separation between 1st and 3rd place was approximately one and half seconds.
It just happens to be the same difference between being a champion or not. There was enough time to hang around for the relay race before I had to be back at the clinic. Another ten more minutes and Fraser was up – to run the second leg of the relay race. I found it a little different watching my son participate in a group race where the outcome depends on the performance of the whole. It was exciting but not the same way it was when he ran the 100meter. They started off strong and looked as if they were moving to the front of the pack. It’s hard in a staggered start to judge where everyone is placing. However on the last leg it’s more obvious to realize the difference between the competitors. As they rounded the final turn, Fraser’s team was in second place. Wow, could this be his champion moment? Again with the same enthusiasm and excitement I watched their team come in second. The team met at the finish line and proceeded to the track infield where they un-ceremoniously collect their 2nd place ribbon.
The boys gave each other a high five and the day was over. Or so I thought. It was then that I witnessed my proudest moment as a father. A moment so precious that no Stanley Cup or Olympic Medal could ever replaced. My Son, with no prompting by any parent or teacher gave his ribbon to the boy he ran for. I watched from the bleachers. He did it in a kind of ‘matter a fact’ manor. His actions went un-noticed by everyone except me. I was overwhelmed with emotion the tears streamed down my face. I had to see him before I left. “I saw what you did Fraser and it was a wonderful thing what you did”, I said. “He deserves it Dad. He went to all the practices and I said I would run for him – so he should keep the ribbon, I already have two”, he said. I know my son never got the number one placement at the track meet that day, but I’m certain he got the number one place in my heart and everyone who knows him.