They've been training all summer. Every boy and girl has sacrificed and worked hard for the beginning of the season, and now it's almost time. But before their first meet, the Oak Park High School Cross Country Team has a tradition they partake in: The Pancake Race.
A week prior to their first invitational, before they receive their uniforms, the entire team is broken down into groups of 7 by the team captains and assigned themes. They run a course near the high school called the Pancake Course, where in the spirit of friendly competition, the individual groups of boys and girls race against one another. Their combined times decide who comes out on top. Afterwards, the parents present the team with a homemade pancake breakfast. It is a wonderful event, and one I was glad to be a part of.
The theme chosen by the boy and girl captains for Madeline's team was "football & cheer". The girls were the football players, and the boys, in their artfully cropped t-shirts, were the cheerleaders. The other teams had chosen some good subjects as well: the Flinstone's, Wall-E...but as I'm partial to football, I thought Madeline's team had the best one. It was all in good humor, and everyone was in high spirits as the first race began.
The boys went first, and as the heat started to rise, I have to give it to them: these kids really work hard. They're impressive. No one stopped-no one slowed down. They drove and encouraged one another as they raced around their courses. And the parents and coaches? Following their progress along the paths, cheering them on and shouting words of support the entire way. Of course, Madeline's team had built in cheerleaders, and as the girls raced, the boys shouted the chants that they'd written for them. You have to love that team spirit.
I've never been as proud of my daughter as I have been these past few months. She has worked tirelessly, and with great enthusiasm, to be a good team member. You can see how much she enjoys it, and this weekend, I finally saw it up close and personal. She loves this team. In the end, she had a great run, her team did beautifully, and as it was good prep for this week's Seaside Invitational, all felt properly motivated.
Madeline has been involved in sports since she was a young child, but never has she found a niche quite like this. Not only does she enjoy running with her team, she's really good at it. There is a passion there that was never present in her other sports; a drive that fuels her through each exhausting practice. I say a little prayer for her every day that she never looses that fire, and that if one day, cross country is no longer for her, she finds it in another area that helps her to grow. Something tells me she'll be running for a long time. All I can hope is that wherever she finds herself, she's surrounded by coaches and team members as amazing as the ones she has now.
Good luck this Friday team, and GO EAGLES!!