Humor me for a moment, would you?
Put on your imagination caps and imagine you are a high school student and it is time for your first Health Education class.
Today’s topic: “Sex Education.” Chattering students quickly go silent as the teacher enters the room. The teacher greets the students. “Hello class, I am Mr. Maier.”
Yes….ITS YOUR DAD!!!
This was my life. I went to the same high school that my father worked at!
Suffering the awkward moments of health class with my friends raising their hands (while smiling devilishly at me) and asking Mr. Maier “I have this friend who is experimenting with sex…..” Abruptly ending their line of questioning (teasing!) when they noticed my face turning a shade of red they didn’t know was possible on a human face.
I’m sure you can appreciate how challenging this was for both of us, but it doesn’t stop there. My father was also my driver’s education teacher AND my cross country coach. WOW!!
The expression “a love hate relationship” sums up some of our more difficult moments.
Rewind to my early childhood and you will discover my love for running was surely influenced by my father. I learned it by watching (and running alongside) him! I still remember summer days biking with him on some of his long training runs when he was preparing for a half marathon race. I would ride along by his side as long as I could. Eventually peddling back home, defeated, as he would continue on his way at a blistering pace.
He was a competitive runner from his own high school days having a lot of success in high school track and cross country, continuing on into college.
My father taught for over 35 years and during this time also coached track (both winter and spring) and cross country in the fall. He loved coaching!!
My parents are here visiting in Sweden so naturally it worked out quite well that my father and I talked about his running experience and his many years of coaching.
He agreed wholeheartedly that running can be a “positive addiction” and create a lot of positive change in your life.
He witnessed countless students transform their lives through their participation in track and/or cross country. Not just the students that went on to become county champs or state level competitors, but more so the average joes and your everyday people. He summed up some of his most memorable moments of coaching:
- Recruiting students who were having difficulty because they had low self esteem and watching them begin to build a positive and healthy self image
- Helping student athletes learn how to balance school work / and their sport. Watching them learn how to balance life and become a more “complete” person
- Having a team without much natural talent but working very hard through the season and winning some meets towards the end of the season
- Taking the cross country team (both boys and girls) to the state meet on a few occasions
- One year the school closed early due to snow. The team wanted to stay and hide so they can shovel the track and have practice anyway
- Teaching life lessons through sport and team cohesiveness
If you have participated in team or individual sports you most likely can relate with the growth (personal and physical) that can occur when we put our best foot forward and work hard at something. My father reminded me of a very important fact following our discussion.
It’s often in the pursuit that we discover what we are made of, not the finish line.
When I look back at our cross country seasons together I can remember those tough workouts with much more vivid detail and importance than the medals received (whether team or individual).