What is your reward for all this? The question doesn’t need to be asked, I think. It is plain to see. It’s clear in the way the girls look to you, its evident in the words they share with you and the notes they send to you throughout their high school career, and its obvious in the respect they show you when they return from college to see you. I’ve seen you fight for your athletes, getting in the face of a grumpy old male referee when your girls have been treated unfairly, laughing (discretely of course) with the parents because he probably didn’t know who he was dealing with. The parents? I talk to them when I can, as you lead them in warming up for a race. They are huge fans of you, amazed at your energy, your commitment, your caring approach to their children. They know you may be hard on their babies, you may seem to ask too much, they may even complain from time to time. But, at the end of each season, and on the final day of graduation, they know their daughters learned about integrity, commitment, leadership, hard work, service to others, and teamwork from you, their coach. I’ve seen parents with tears in their eyes as they struggle to explain the impact you have had on their lives; I’ve seen you cry when saying goodbye to the young woman, beautiful in her strength and confidence and excited to move to the next new challenge, comfortable that she now has what it takes to succeed.
So, as you turn 42 years old this year, you have outlasted most businesses in staying power, you can still put the hurt on some of the top high school runners in New England half your age, you are a mentor, a leader, and a confidant to the next generation of woman, and you’ve built a durable community around your vision. I know I couldn’t do that and I don’t how you can.
And finally, isn’t it about the impact you make on the world around you? You are not completely what you do or make, you are what you contribute to your world, and your contributions have inspired young women to fight through adversity and dream big, provided comfort to mothers and fathers that their daughters are in good hands as they enter womanhood, taught retirees to re-engage in a lifelong passion through language and travel, and demonstrated the richness possible when a woman fully commits to life.