Each year, BSWD awards $1,000 awards to help the pursuits of young athletes and scholars in our community. This year, we were able to award three scholarships and we’d like to share their essays with you all – congrats Charlie, Carson and Grace, and best of luck on your next journey!
Prompt: What Running Means to Me
#1 I remember walking into my first day of cross country practice entirely alone and without confidence. The easy run I went on only seemed to prove that I was not going to be good enough. But, at some point along the way, something clicked and I decided that this was going to be something I would work at until I got better. From that point on, I pushed myself and dedicated myself to getting better, and it paid off. One of the proudest moments of my highschool career was crossing the finish line at state with a personal record. In this moment, I was finally able to see the value I brought to my team.
Not only was I seeing improvement in my times, I was also seeing a change in my attitude. I have become mentally tough and persistent because of running, and I have seen these traits pay off in my academic and professional life as well. I have met my best friends in cross country; people that I will talk to and run with even after I am no longer on a team with them. It is amazing the bond you form with someone on a run. Having a ‘running buddy’ means that they will see you at your best when you are fast and motivated, and it also means they will be there for you at your worst when your feet are dragging and you feel sick. I am so thankful for the running buddies I have, and I will carry my memories from cross country with them for the rest of my life.
Looking more towards the future, I am excited to say that I will be running cross country and track at Carroll College next year. Attending Carroll College has been my dream since middle school, but if someone told me that I could be an athlete in college, I would have said they were crazy. Earlier this school year, I decided that I would not try to run in college. I was worried about the dedication that would be required and wondered if I was even good enough to make it on a team. For the few months that I was not planning on running, I was nervous and uncertain about my future. I just remember feeling like something was off and I was panicking.
I started to change my mind when people started to ask me, “are you going to run next year?” Everytime, I just wanted to answer confidently, “yes I am.” So I thought, I might as well give it a shot. I started reaching out to coaches and researching schools. That is when I decided that I could not give up running, because I wasn’t done yet. I have improved so much since the time I started running. I love the competitive aspects, but also the loving community you put yourself into. It still amazes me that you can sprint past someone at the finish line and be all out of breath, and they would still pull you in for a hug and tell you good job. These are honestly some of the nicest people I have ever met. I feel so much better now that I know I will be running next year. I was not ready to quit running, because I still have so much left to give. I want to keep working on the mental portion of competing where you feel like you want to quit, but instead you run a little faster. Overall, I realize that I have found something I will do for the rest of my life. I will keep texting my best friend and ask her to run with me every once in a while. I will still listen to country music while I run down a dirt road with my aunt, and I cannot wait to run a marathon with my sister. Running is a very special sport that a lot of people are afraid of. I cannot count the number of times that I have been told that I am crazy because I enjoy running. But they’re wrong; finding out I love running was like finding gold. It was unexpected, and it changed my life. So what does running mean to me? Running has given me something to be proud of, something to work hard at, and something to look forward to. Being healthy enough and dedicated enough to run has changed my life, and I would not give it up for anything in the world.
#2 I am a runner. I was a soccer player. I began playing soccer at the age of four, taking part in fall soccer, spring soccer, and summer soccer camps. When I was getting ready to start seventh grade, I had been playing soccer with the same kids for nearly nine years. These were my friends. These were the kids that came to my birthday parties. They were the kids I used to see in school every day. As that year’s soccer season started, I knew something had changed. Suddenly, there was a target on my back, and the coach’s son was aiming for it. He started to bully me. He was physically aggressive and verbally abusive. The coach turned a blind eye. My teammates looked the other way. Even the parents, who saw it happen at practices and even at games, looked the other way. Soccer stopped being enjoyable.
At the end of that miserable soccer season, some of my classmates, just acquaintances, suggested I try cross-country and track. I did, and I loved it. I was good, not great, but excited about getting better. I noticed the target that had been on my back throughout the soccer season had somehow disappeared. These kids were kind, supportive, and had a profound influence. Now, after five years of running, I have had the privilege to have three all-state finishes, and a team state championship finish. From my experience, I have learned that there is always a way out of an unpleasant situation. Sometimes you can find this solution by yourself, and sometimes you need help. I found that help and now I know, I have found my sport and my people.
In addition to cross country and track, I participate in an average of ten community runs each year. I have also volunteered at several races as a support runner to a friend with special needs, and have volunteered as a lead runner at youth races that I am now too old to run in. I plan to continue to run in college. Thank you for considering me for your scholarship.
#3 The first time I ran around a track way back in elementary school, I instantly fell in love with running. When I started elementary track I was a thrower. I always said I didn’t like running. I’d never given it a chance. The first time I ran a mile on a track, I was the slowest in my class. I was probably the slowest in the whole school. I envied turtles for their speed. My parents thought that maybe sports weren’t for me. I wasn’t good, but I loved it, the power in my legs, full lungs, even my arms were sore.
In 6th grade I started sprinting, after all, running far didn’t seem to be my talent. I ran the 4×100, the 200, and the 400. My mom was in the stands, ready to cheer for me when I crossed the finish line last, but instead she was cheering as her son crossed the finish line first and set a middle school record. This was a huge turning point in my athletic career. I began to have confidence in myself and started to push my limits. The following year I moved back into distance by adding the 800 to my favorite track races. Before my first 800 I realized I had no strategy for the race. None of my friends like to run it, so I was on my own. Google taught me there are 4 phases in an 800 but I decided to focus on phase 4: run as hard as possible for the last 200 meters. This was the greatest decision I have ever made. I sat at the back of the pack and at the end out kicked everyone, winning the race. Maybe competitive distance running wasn’t just a dream.. The next year I joined the middle school cross country team and I never looked back. I have been running for years now but as a senior in high school, I truly have found that running isn’t just about competing. The view from the front of the pack may be crystal clear, but I still love running as much as I did that day in elementary school when I ran through everyone else’s dust and decided throwing things wasn’t what interested me in the track any more.