A teammate occupies that grey area somewhere between a friend and a work colleague.
At the same time, a teammate can be more than a friend.
There is something unique about a group of people who suffer together for a mutual goal. Just being on a sports team exposes you to people that you would not be mixed with under normal circumstances.
In my sport and other endurance sports, I believe that the bond between teammates runs deeper than traditional sports.
I ‘m qualified to talk about the importance of teammates because I know what it is like to not have any. My freshman year of high school, I was the lone-runner of Covington high school’s Cross-country team. It was hard to believe that a 5A school with over 1500 students had only one cross country runner.
At the same time, the school across town (St. Pauls) had over 50 guys.
I was truly jealous.
At the starting line I stood by myself while the other teams did their group warm ups and pre-race huddles. Some of these teams were so big that they had a large cheering section during the race while my mom and coach stood by drowned out by the masses.
Eventually, I found some teammates.
Covington High Cross Country never achieved the numbers of the nearby schools but we had a team. Most years we had barely enough to score.
My sophomore year, half of the team would have probably been better off in other sports but we made it work. I made it work through my senior year and made a handful of lifelong friends that I still talk to on a regular basis.
Being part of a team and training with teammates is one of the most appealing parts of my sport. In addition to wanting to run faster, feeling like I missed out on a team-experience is part of what made me want to run in college.
My first year at Tech, I had high hopes for asolid team-experience. A combination of my decision to red-shirt (sit out a year) and the number of seniors lead to a disappointing experience.
I didn’t give up.
My sophomore year (my first year of competition) we were joined by some new faces but they did not stick around for long.
That winter, I got injured and missed my first indoor and outdoor season with Tech. I stopped hanging out with the guys and all at once it seemed like most of the team either got injured or quit.
The following year everything seemed to come together.
Anthony and Tor transferred from Iowa Central, me and Tom were finally healthy and wehad Taylor returning. Along the way we scooped Josh up off the street and then we had a solid group.
This was the first time at Louisiana tech that felt like I was part of a team. We had our moments but we were definitely a team.
At the end of that year, we moved into the infamous “XC House” and the rest is history.
Now, it’s the end of the year and half of the guys in the XC House are graduating or out of eligibility. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I have high hopes for a good team experience next year.
We have a solid group of freshman returning and I know they will contribute to the team in their own way.
For my senior teammates, I know this isn’t the end.
Tonight we will have our last fun time together in the XC house.
The team will thrive without you but each of you brought a unique dynamic to the team that will be missed.
Next year, Taylor won’t be around to be the warm-up king, Tor and Anthony won’t be talking smack constantly, and Josh won’t be around to balance out the immaturity.
You will soon cease to be a teammate and join the growing number of friends that I made while being part of this sport.
It was a good run and I will miss you guys.
Before I get too sentimental, I better stop here or else you guys will give me a hard time tonight.