In Chicago, I was absolutely wowed by the number of volunteers at the marathon. Every few kilometres had an aid station that was two blocks long. When I read this ahead of time, I imagined that Chicago simply had short city blocks; I expected two tables of water and, then, two tables of Gatorade manned by a small crew of volunteers. I was completely wrong! The first block had table after table of Gatorade – on both sides of the road – and dozens of volunteers. The second block had table after table of water – again on both sides of the road and, again, manned by dozens of volunteers. I imagined that the size of the stations and number of volunteers would decrease as the course progressed but they did not; Chicago knows how to look after its runners.
One of the things that I love about teaching is it indirectly allows me to give back to the running community. In the fall, I coach cross-country with 3 other teachers; this year, we fielded a team of almost 300 students. In the spring, I coach track and field. There is nothing I love more than watching kids set goals, whether it is to build fitness or aspire to be the best, and push themselves to achieve them.
As a parent, I also get involved with my sons’ activities. Sure, there are several other things that I could be doing with my time. But when the soccer club sent a mass email in the summer looking for coaches for both sons’ teams, how could I say no? I was going to be there anyway, I know soccer and I am quite comfortably handling a group of boys. The Littlest Dude was quite happy to have Mom as Coach; the Oldest Dude said “No way!”
This Saturday morning, for the first time ever, I found myself giving back to one son’s choir and, then, their soccer club. When I told my oldest that I was going to drive him to his choir rehearsal rather than have him take the bus, he didn’t refuse (he actually likes to take the bus) but looked puzzled. “I’m measuring the boys for their uniforms,” I said.
“Why are you doing that?” he asked.
“When money was raised for uniforms in the spring, I told Dave (his choir director) that I’d help out. It is an easy way for me to contribute to the choir.”
I expected him to groan as he doesn’t like me around him at choir (or soccer); the oldest dude prefers to do things on his own and have me somewhere in the background. This time, though, he approved with a simple “Okay” and we headed to his rehearsal together on Saturday morning. I measured almost 50 boys, guessed how much they would grow over the next year, and laughed when every single one of them looked for a place to hang his sweater rather than toss it on the floor for a few minutes. Gotta love choir boys!
We left at 12:30, which gave me an hour to pick up the Littlest Dude and get him to our soccer game. I have 11 ten year olds on my team and they are a lot of fun to work with. Over the past month, I watched them develop from a group of good players to a solid team. We are almost half-way through the season and I am crossing my fingers that I can keep them on the streak that they are on right now.
Last night, I went to be tired – really tired – from a busy Saturday. But it was a good kind of tired, the result of volunteering and doing what I can to give back to my community.