The Beginning of Endings

November 8, 2012

Senior Year is the Year of Lasts.

Just last night, I said “Good-Bye” to Gull Lake Cross Country, a Team I’ve been with for four years. It was the Beginning of Endings.

Every year, after the season has ended, the Gull Lake Cross Country Team hosts a Banquet. During this Banquet we eat good food, we listen to the Coaches thank everyone for a great season, and then the coaches give a speech for each and every runner on the team. Every athlete gets their moment in the spotlight. It’s…it’s pretty great. And, as an added bonus, all the Seniors receive a special trinket…a Senior Gift, if you will.

Last night was my 4th and final Cross Country Banquet. It was my last official event as a Gull Lake Cross Country runner. It was the last time I’ll ever hear a speech from Coach Portis about my Cross Country season. It was the last time I’d ever sit and joke with my Teammates as we wait eagerly for the Banquet to start. It was the last time I’d ever watch a Cross Country slide show as I chow down on a variety of homemade grub. It was the last time I’d ever experience a Banquet.

But it was a good one. It was a good last Banquet. It was an awesome last Banquet. It was great to see Sam B. awarded “Practice Makes Perfect” and MVP. And I was filled with jittery butterflies as Jeremy delivered a heartfelt speech to Coach Portis on how much he meant to us. And, because our Team followed a Tribal theme this year, we gave Coach Portis a Chief’s Staff…feathers and all.  And I felt tears well up in my eyes as Coach Flynn almost started crying when she awarded Elizabeth and I the Lindsey Cornelius Sportsmanship Award. And it was exciting to be recognized as part of the State Team for the first time in my Life. And…and…and…it was all brilliant.

My Senior Gift, I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of. Maybe that’s a foolish, youthful thing to say. But I can’t possibly see how I could forget the past four years of being a runner on the Gull Lake Cross Country Team. I don’t see why I would ever get rid of my Harry Potter bobble head. Yes, Coach Portis gifted me a Harry Potter bobble head. His reasoning, as he so kindly put, was because I was a PAC and a Chemistry Wizard. (Which is particularly funny because we always say that Mr. Portis is a Chemistry Wizard and that he’s teaching us magic tricks and potion making in AP Chemistry.)

All the Senior Gifts, really, we’re pretty great. Zach, the former soccer player, got a toy soccer ball. Sneaky Sam S. received an Invisibility Cloak disguised as a Gull Lake blanket. Jori received a charm necklace with a lithographed picture of Kellogg Forest on it. Ben received a few gifts, but the most memorable (if you ask me) were the fake mustaches. And Jeremy was given a statue of Atlas…because sometimes Jeremy thinks he has to carry the world upon his shoulders, sometimes he thinks that he really needs to be there for his Team and that any fault of his makes him lesser in our eyes. Of course…that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Jeremy could never fall from grace in our eyes. He’s Cross Country royalty. Perhaps Coach should have gotten him a copy of Atlas Shrugged. Because he doesn’t always need to carry the world. We’re all right there beside him to help.

It was the Beginning of Endings. The clock is slowly ticking down to the end of my High School career and things like my last Cross Country Banquet only make it more apparent. But at least I’ll always have the memories. I’ll always have the knowledge that I shed blood, sweat, and tears for something so much bigger than myself. I worked for a Team and for Coaches that I can’t imagine ever forgetting. I’ll always have that Harry Potter bobble head.

And I’ll always remember the day that I met Coach Portis…back when I was in Middle School. He saw me wearing a Cross Country sweatshirt and he said: “Oh, Cross Country! You’ll be coming out for the High School Team, right?”

And I smiled.

And I nodded.

And I’m so glad I did.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

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