Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Sucked at High School Sports Except ...

This evening I was watching the football championship games with a good friend Lou and we were talking about the game and comparing the teams and players. My mind wandered back to high school playing flag football during gym class. I had caught the football from a long pass and scored my one and only touchdown in 6 years of high school. One of guys that bullied me for so many years said to me, "Nice catch Haynes." I grunted back trying to be cool. I think I sounded like a beagle. Granted it was only flag football but it meant something as I really sucked at sports. In fact, that entire first half of high school really sucked.  I was a classic nerd, geek, dork, book worm, what have you. Though as an adult, proud of it to this day. It toughened me up through years of abuse by the jocks. Ah yes ... another blog in the making. Another time though!

While in elementary school, I tried the little league baseball thing. I loved playing catch with my Dad and my brother, but my love of the game didn't translate well into any type of aptitude on the field. So that was dropped. I was good at games played with friends. Man Hunt or Capture the Flag. I was good at hiding and running. It allowed me an advantage over the years of high school bullydom that followed.

Come high school, I tried out and played soccer for one year. I sucked at that. I loved soccer, really I did, but I had the habit of kicking the ball way OVER the net. I also didn't know how to pass, I just kicked it as hard as I could as far as I could. I realized very quickly that I would never make varsity. After being honest with myself about my lack of talent, I realized that I just didn't want to play junior varsity games for the rest of high school. What was I good at?

Well ... as stated before, I could run. I could run fast and run for long distances. What could I do? With some prodding from high school friends Danny and Brett, and my brother Adam, I joined cross country in 10th grade ... and I never looked back! I found myself to be a good runner, but with training, running 13 miles a day preseason, I became a great runner. My brother Adam was a great runner too. Better than me.  We were led by an awesome runner by the name of Paul Greenhalgh. We were so good our team, the Gateway Gators, won our county championships several years in a row! Our coach, Joe Focarelli, was crusty, sometimes mean, but always supported us. His raspy voice screamed at you from the sidelines, "GO HAYNES!" and I ran faster.

I made so many good friends on that team:  Angela, Bill S., Tim, Bill W, Debbie M, Chrissy T., Mike S. - names come flooding back that mean so much. We used to have parties together on the weekends and hang out in the storage building with the spring track equipment. We called them Pit Parties. I think it had something to do with the high jump pits(mats) we would lounge on for hours. I had found my sport! I finally felt and was part of an incredible team.  And it didn't hurt that the school supported us so much when we won our "meets." As a plus, I actually started getting bullied less.

Cross country segued into winter track and then of course spring track. Each of us on the cross country team went out for the seasonal track teams. Friendships grew stronger and we all became close. Running just wasn't about running. It was about personal bests, about supporting and pushing each other through tough runs, and about the competition against other teams while on the course. Cheap shots happened. You may get tripped, you may get an elbow to the ribs. You just got up and kept running (and gave an elbow back to the guy if you could catch up to him!).

I sucked at high school sports except ... cross country and track. I was so happy to be apart of these teams. It taught me teamwork, endurance, loyalty, and friendship. What an incredible time in my life. So many good memories from my running years. But ... I will still always remember the one time I caught that football.


  1. Glad you found a home Marc...for some it is in the band..for others, the Yearbook Club...and so on...thanks for sharing.

  2. You are absolutely correct! We all needed a place or a group to be in to be safe. For me, it became cross country and track.