Finding Inspiration

I hardly know anyone from my old college track & field team. Except for my former coach and a couple of vets, most of the guys and gals are strangers. At first, I felt awkward wearing my circa 2005 and 2006 Ateneo kits. These articles of clothing, juxtaposed with the newer versions seem archaic. The age gap, come to think of it, is quite glaring. I graduated from college back in 2007, when the rookies of this year’s team were mere high school freshmen.

I used to know quite a lot of the young guns. But due to internal team issues, these guys opted to cut their ties with the Blue Tracksters. I was surprised at the sudden exodus, especially when I heard stories from both conflicting sides. In a varsity team, a college coach’s words are law. It’s either you fit in or you ship out. Hence, most of the team are newbies. Only a handful of the previous years’ crack veterans decided to stay.

I wasn’t always the most obedient of athletes, but I did appreciate the patience my coach displayed in the face of my subtle arrogance. I just couldn’t imagine quitting the team.

During the times when I shared the track with the new squad, I saw something familiar that caught my eye. Amidst the youth and inexperience, I saw traces of of the 2003-2006 teams, of which I was part. We weren’t the best of athletes. In fact, none of my batchmates were given college scholarship offers. In 2003, the team finished dead last. Through sheer guts and hard work (and a bunch of talented rookies), we clawed our way up. Three years later, we hoisted a medium-sized, Lapu-Lapu-inspired second runner-up trophy. It was the first podium finish by an Ateneo Men’s Team in the UAAP. Even if it wasn’t a prestigious championship crown, it sure as hell felt like we were on top of the world.

It has been more than three years since I last competed for the Blue and White. As I move forward in life, I know for a fact that my shelf-life as a part-time working athlete is limited. Amongst the frequent solitude, I find inspiration in these exuberant youths. Whatever happens come UAAP time, whether they finish dead last or on top of the perch, I’ll gladly find time to watch them compete. They remind me of a simpler time, when all that seemed to matter were getting good grades, winning a medal and spotting the next head-turner on campus. Moreover, seeing them reiterates the fact that there’s more to life than clearing hurdles. Somewhere down the road, I’d have to hang up my spikes for the last time.

Until then, I’ll be doing my utmost best to be the fastest sprint hurdler this country has ever seen, whilst building the foundations of my off-track life.


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