One of my favorite things as a coach is when alumni come back and visit. It’s great to see a face from the past, catch up on old times, and share in the continued support of the program. To me it’s a verification that what I am doing as a coach is meaningful. If I can help to create an environment where my passion for running and the team continues in my athletes years after graduating, then my efforts have been validated.
Over the years, we have had alumni return in many forms. Many have taken the time during their college spring break or long weekend to stop by a practice or meet. Often they return to cheer on a friend or younger sibling. Even parents of alumni have come out to local meets and continue to cheer on the team. Mrs. Mitchell, a parent of a top athlete from before my coaching days, regularly attends the state meet and cheers on Geneva runners. Others have come back to help coach in the program they were once an athlete in. A few have gone on to coach in other programs, and it’s always good to see them at different meets. Some are mainstay workers at our home track invitationals. We have also had alumni come back to talk to current runners and share their experiences. No matter how they come back, it’s always wonderful to see them return.
Along with alumni coming back to visit, it’s also fun to follow those who have continued their passion for running post high school. Several have continued to compete on their college teams. Some even end up attending the same college while others coincidentally end up competing against their former teammates. A few have even trained for and completed the Chicago Marathon and made it a point to stop by our volunteer station where we can all celebrate their success. Others may continue to run as part of clubs, to relieve stress, to stay in shape, or simply because they enjoy it.
Hopefully today’s current athletes also appreciate when alumni return and realize that they are a part of something special that doesn’t necessarily end with graduation. Hopefully current athletes see what they are currently going through is something to be cherished. All too often we are so focused on the final result, or the next step in life, that we forget to embrace the journey. To quote Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” So with this year’s xc season winding down and the conference meet looking on the horizon, let’s all take a moment to reflect on this past season and the journey it has been.