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A High Jump

This is Gwen’s first season in track. The team was only afforded about three weeks of practice and then a short season – only two meets. So, it’s not been much of a season. In the first couple of weeks, Gwen would come home discouraged: “I tried discus and I’m bad at it because I have no upper body strength,” “I tried the pole vault and I’m bad at it,” “I’m a slow runner.” Her dad and I tried to explain to her that she can’t expect to be good at something the first time she tries it, but nonetheless, it was a pretty discouraging experience for someone who has a lot of natural abilities, but none readily apparent in track and field. Then one day she tried the high jump and she said she liked it. That ended up being one of her events.
The first track meet included about a dozen schools, most of them larger with better programs than Gwen’s school. In fact, Gwen’s school doesn’t even have a track. So at the meet, Gwen was running for the first time on a real track. Also, she didn’t have cleats (I guess that’s what track shoes are called – they have little spikes like cleats anyway). She was wearing some old Payless tennies she’s owned for two years – they probably weigh a pound a piece. To say that Gwen was at a disadvantage over some of the others who have been doing track for more than one season, or more than three weeks, who have track shoes and have actually run on a track, well, it’s stating the obvious. That meet Gwen learned a little something about the agony of defeat. But honestly, not too much, because a large part of the fun for her was getting to travel with the team and flirt with all the boys from the other schools (much to her boyfriend’s chagrin).
There was another track meet scheduled, but the school decided not to go because there was a conflict with baseball. OK, so now, a week and a half later, we’re at the end of the season, the district meet – ironically not as tough as the first meet. The district meet is made up of only schools of similar size, so our kids were a lot more competitive.
Since the last meet, Gwen got new shoes – still not track shoes because I’m not about to pop $40 on a pair of shoes that I have no assurance will be worn more than once – but we did get her some good Nike running shoes. And she had another week of practice under her belt. Yet compared to the preparation of her competition, there was no reason to expect any upsets.
But I did expect a miracle. I prayed the night before the meet that our Heavenly Father would give her the gift of placing in one of her events – just a ribbon, not a medal. I didn’t feel like it was even right to ask for her to win an event (not to mention I’m not sure I had enough faith to ask it) because she’s brand-spanking new to track and up against so many who have worked so much longer and surely want it more badly than she. So I asked our Father to give her a lift on the high jump or wings on the track, just enough to encourage her with a ribbon – provided that it could be done without edging out some young woman who had trained harder or wanted it more.
Praise God, Gwen placed 6th in the high jump. She had really improved in one week of practice. I could tell she had better technique – and an angel to keep that bar from falling off when she bumped it with her booty! You should have seen her reaction to hearing her name called over the loud speaker when they announced the results of the girls’ high jump. She jumped up and down clapping her hands and then gave her friend standing next to her a high five before resuming jumping up and down. I’m quite certain there was some supersonic squealing going on as well.

gwen-places1

Check out the look on Gwen's face when they announced she placed in the high jump.
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