Cleveland Hosts the 2011 USA Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships:
July 28-31, 2011. The George Finnie Stadium, Baldwin Wallace College – Berea, Ohio
Just a quick note on the USA Masters Track and Field Meet that was held over the past four days–to my good fortune just on the other side of town! I signed up to volunteer/work at the meet as a “Blockhead”–one of the people who hold the starting blocks for the sprinters–so the blocks don’t slip out from under the sprinters as they blast into their race. I’m no dummy; I pick the easiest job that gives me the most up close and personal contact with the athletes and the meet. Watching from the stands isn’t close enough; I like to soak up the sights, sounds, and smells (from the starter’s pistol) of the meet at track level!!
Having been a high school track coach for almost 20 years, I noticed something very interesting and refreshing immediately upon walking towards (even before I walked into) the stadium. The competitors looked and dressed like the track athletes I’ve coached for two decades, but on closer inspection there were a few major differences: Gray hair and wrinkled skin! WOW!! These weren’t baby-faced kids; these were MY peers. “Welcome home, Coach Sherman.” To be specific, this meet drew athletes from 30 – (almost) 100 years old; let’s call it my peers, plus or minus 2-4 decades.
Once inside the stadium, there was no doubt I was at a track meet. Spikes flashing, the grunts and groans of all-out effort, the gamesmanship of the athletes before their races, and the camaraderie of the athletes AFTER their races. And, the added bonus was that this meet was for all the marbles–bragging rights to be called National Champion!
What was fun for me was that in the course of being a block holder for the sprinters, I was able to offer a few specific coaching tips, and, in general, interact with many of the athletes on a coach-athlete basis. What a thrill and honor to be called “Coach” by a 60-something National Champion!
In retrospect, it might have been fun to actually participate in the Meet. Looking at the times/results in some of the (distance) events I may have participated in, in the 55’s age group, (based on my current level of conditioning) I probably could have snuck in to the top three, or so, in the events. But, I have been a very limited racer over the past 10 years–so it’s just fun to know, with some level of accuracy that I could have been up there–in front of the home town fans, no less.
Enough about the track meet for the moment; let’s look at the bigger picture: We live in an overfed, overweight, and under exercised society. What we witnessed this weekend, was a positively enormous aberration of our American society in general; 30-90+ year olds racing their “brains” out in a track meet! And, we can’t overlook the hours, days, and years of practice/training, self-discipline, and sacrifice and dedication that brought everyone together for this glorious celebration of health and athletics. Just my opinion: 95% of our society would get exhausted just thinking about the events of this past weekend–even though the competitors are the 95%’s societal peers. If only even a little bit of what we witnessed could rub off on the majority of our society… “Cheers” to the athletes; role models for us all.
Congratulations again to everyone who competed this weekend. Time for the athletes to get back to the drawing/training board…probably for almost all of then, that’s tomorrow.