Thursday, August 22, 2019

Not a Single Sport Girl Anymore

After many attempts to involve Dova in any sport besides gymnastics, she has finally found another home in Track and Field. Any sport with a ball didn’t agree with her; we had tried soccer, basketball and tennis, and didn’t even bother with softball and volleyball. I had long given up on getting great action shots of her gymnastics, opting to buy fantastic stills from the professionals.

But track has offered a whole of new photography opportunities. Here she is at the beginning of her track career in middle school.

She chose to do long jump and 100m hurdles for her events. I had suggested high jump since she's able to do all those fancy vaults in gymnastics, but it turns out that height matters more than vaulting abilities for the high jump. In her first meet, she placed 1st in long jump and 2nd in hurdles. Wow, I had no idea that she would do that well. She replied that she didn't join track to lose! Hey, what about being part of a team, hanging with your friends and being physically active? I asked her how far her long jump was and she replied 13' 3". 13 feet?? I was expecting something like 10!

I asked her how she learned the proper form for the long jump. She said the coaches didn't really teach them anything and everyone just had to do it. Somehow she knew how to throw her feet in front of her body for the landing thanks to great gymnastics core strength. 

It was even more surprising that she did well at hurdles. Her middle school doesn't have an actual track, so during practices, they only set up a few hurdles in the grass to try out. She never actually ran a whole 100 meters with hurdles until her first meet. In fact, in her first race, she didn't realize that she had to run to the finish line after the last hurdle!

She did so well in her first year in track that she easily qualified for the middle school state meet. Now in her school's rinky-dink approach to athletics, there were no additional practices for the state meet and the coaches were not even present. First no hurdles, then no coaches! When we got to the meet, it was complete chaos trying to figure out how to get the team's bibs and all the kids to the right events. I was barely cutting it as the de facto coach mom! We were all quite overwhelmed by the great athletes that were bussed in from all over the state (undoubtedly with coaches too). Not surprisingly, Dova didn't do that well at states due to the lack of practices and the fact that she ran in the hurdles heat that had the girl that who broke the previous state record by 2 seconds! But it was still a great experience that pushed Dova to pursue track in high school.

Now I thought that going to high school level track would provide better coaches and equipment for practice but hasn't been the case yet. Her high school was recently rebuilt and the track was completely torn apart, so again, there was no home track to practice on! Her first race through hurdles was tripped up by falls and it turned out that she was running high hurdles and not low hurdles from middle school. Nonetheless, she persevered and managed to place 3rd in long jump, earning her a Varsity letter as a Freshman. With track cleats now, she flew for 15' 5".

Here's to many more great track seasons! (And gymnastics too!)

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