I have reproduced this moving and inspiring story with permission. I loved this story and hope you find it as meaningful as I did.
When I decided to join the cross country team as a junior, I was already bracing for the worst. I had endured countless tales of brutal training, injuries, and endless races in the mud, reducing even the toughest legs to Jell-O. In spite of this,I quickly realized that the true essence of the sport has nothing to do with a footrace. It does, however, have a great deal to do with David.
David was in dead last, a solid five minutes behind the rest of the pack. I had already seen him grimly shuffling towards the finish, and I remember thinking how unpleasant it must feel, to be racing alone in the woods. But when I looked up again, David was not alone anymore; he was now surrounded by his whole team, escorting and cheering him to his goal.Then came a swell of noise – first, scattered clapping, which spread and grew into a climax of shouting and cheering. Athletes, parents, and coaches from every school, schools that would normally be bitter rivals, lined the finalstraightaway, joining in a wave of support. Now a newly resolved David was sprinting towards the finish, the grim look wiped clean off his face. As he confidently crossed the line, receiving numerous high-fives, it hit me: Could any oneperson present that day be declared a winner?
We live in an age where the social norm is to put one’s self first. Our image is often driven by our own personal achievements, the tangibles that we can brag about to our friends, or list on a resume. It seems that every day, a new story of people cheating to further their own interest emerges, from professional athletes to students on tests. But that day, I realized that, at least in cross country, we are all truly on the same team. We logged countless hours on the track and in the gym together, we raced together, and we left with lasting friendships. We all understood the dedication and perseverance the sport required, even if our goals or the times on the result sheets differed. Most importantly, we pushed each other to heights we could never achieve alone – we were a community.
Watching David finish that race was more empowering than watching the first-place All-American, or even winning the race myself. This single example of interscholastic goodwill has caused me to view the entire world differently. What if we could line the sidelines to support a national or even global cause, regardless of our personal allegiances? What if more of us were like David, overcoming life’s obstacles fairly and confidently, even when the odds are against us?
To this day, I have strived to live by this motto of putting others first, realizing that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. I will not remember all of the horror stories or great times, but I will always remember the spirit of David, running to victory.