By Matteo Valencia ‘19

I remember at the end of basketball season in eighth grade my coach came up to me and insisted I do track and field, specifically that I do shot put and discus. I didn’t think much of it and forgot about what he said for awhile.

A few months later, as a freshman at Brother Rice trying out for the basketball team, I made it to the end when they were announcing who made the team. They never called my name. I was a bit disappointed, but then I remember what my coach told me. The next day I went to the head coach of track and field, Mr. Wazio’s room, and asked for the paperwork.

It was a couple days after I got all the paperwork together that I decided to do some preseason workouts. Now, I was a foolish freshman who had no idea what he was doing, so what’s the first thing I decide? I saw the distance runners who I thought were the entire track team. One of them told me to stretch out before the run. I did, then we all started to run.

By the first block I was already losing my breath and there was still four miles to go. It was a struggle, but I did it with the help of two guys named Jeremy and Zach. Those two became my first friends at track and Brother Rice.

Second semester rolled around, and the first track meetings began. I realized that there was only one other freshman who was doing shot put which made me nervous. After the meeting, I went downstairs to start the teams first warm up. By then I already knew most the guys’ names.

By the end of practice, I was already friendly with them and even joked around with them a bit. As the years went on, eventually those guys became my friends and others outside of shot put became my friends as well.

Now it’s senior year, and I’m saying goodbye to all of it. Without my basketball coach, I wouldn’t be here writing about track and my experience with it. If he didn’t talk to me about it four and half years ago, I wouldn’t have found out how much I love and enjoy shot put and discus.

I would have never known how to communicate and talk with coaches and directors as well as how to manage time. The most important lesson I take away from track was sacrifice and keeping your word. I’m saying goodbye to the first experience that truly changed my life. Thank you, Coach, for talking to me about track. Thank you to everyone on track, present and past, for teaching me and shaping my life.