Freestyling with Matt McGinnis: Jan. 22
To me, the most difficult part of Christmas training is the demanding nature of logging more hours than one does at any other time of the year, while everyone else in the world is on holiday. At Texas, it requires the utmost commitment. We practiced twice almost every day, and the workouts were very challenging. We even practiced twice on New Year's Day. It is demanding, but also fun.
I enjoy challenging myself to try and do things that no one else does. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. It's also fun being one of the only people on campus. UT is literally a barren desert in which we are free to park anywhere without any other cars in the lot, eat anywhere without waiting in line, and shop anywhere without fear of something being sold out.
I'd like to talk for a bit about commitment. What does it mean to be a committed student athlete? My own definition of the word commitment began to develop in the seventh grade. I was in P.E. class, and we were having our physical fitness tests. They are tests of athletic ability in the mile run, shuttle run, sit and reach, pull-ups, and vertical leap.
After all the tests were completed but one, the shuttle run, I had achieved "Presidential" status. The Presidential status is an indicator that you are in the top few percent of students for your grade for that particular activity. If you earn Presidential status in every category, you receive a special certificate. I was determined to get one of these certificates. However, I ended up missing the shuttle run time standard by a significant amount.
I thought that this would be the end of my pursuit, but after class I was approached by my P.E. teacher. He told me that he wanted to see me for fifteen minutes after class each day, and that we would eventually earn the shuttle run time standard. Sure enough, I did what he asked. I had no idea how long this would go on. A few days went by, and I had improved my time by a tenth of a second. Every day, the teacher would cheer me on, offer suggestions, and have me repeatedly do the shuttle run, over and over. Even with this tenth of a second drop, though, I still had half a second left.
A week went by, and still I had not earned the time. Two weeks went by, and I was a tenth of a second away from earning it. I wanted to give up. I didn't think my body was physically capable of earning the time. However, the coach was very patient. After every 15-minute session, he would say, "same thing tomorrow." He would continue to cheer and never showed any doubt.
Finally, one day, by one one-hundredth of a second, I earned the time. I was much more excited than I had been for any of the other challenges because it was earned through commitment and patience. The teacher was ecstatic. I had also gained a sense of what it means to pursue a goal and stay committed to something. These are traits that I think our coaches and most of the people on our team have this year and traits that I continue to try to keep.
The Auburn dual meet had a lot of positives. First, we won, and that is truly an accomplishment. Auburn is a great team with some talented racers. Second, we raced hard as a whole, and this is probably the most important thing. The mental aspect of competition is important to have going into the NCAA Championship. Third, our times were a little slow, which tells me we trained very hard over Christmas training, and a lot of rest will take us to new heights. I'm very excited to see what we can do coming down the stretch. More to come after the Arizona dual meet.
Until then, Hook'em!