Its day 108 of my great adventure on the Florida State cross country team and I have only just noticed a tragic injustice that is taking place. Due to the fact you are reading this poorly constructed text, I can only assume you are avid readers of the Women’s Cross Country news feed and are therefore familiar with everyone that is on our roster. You’ve heard of our amazing Olympian, our Tennessee teammates, our awesome (and sometimes quite terrifying) coaches and perhaps, you have even heard of me – the newest British Nole. However, there is one person you haven’t heard of. A person who has a massive impact on our team and that goes unnoticed by most. Who hides when we have success and only raises his head when we crash and burn (*cough cough* ACC’s anyone?). He makes everything more positive and helps us see our potential even when we think we have nothing else to give. Sadly, he recently told us he was leaving and it is for this reason we need to introduce him to the world. So I’ve decided that even if he hates it and even if it is only for a little while written in a blog by someone who is incompetent at writing, now is the time that we need to talk about Mike Bartlett.
Who is this mystifying man, I hear you ask. Technically he is our sports psychologist, but calling him that doesn’t seem to accurately convey all that he does. If you feel like pressure is getting to you, you feel down or you just need a pep talk, Mike is the one you call. He is there when you’re are hurting, when you get upset when coach gets on you for feeling sorry for yourself in a race, or when you realize you’ve put on the freshman 15 and you just need someone to cheer you up and stop you from eating peanut butter. He is the one on the team who gives us race imagery and coping strategies to combat any negative thoughts we may have. He is also the only one who always laughs at my jokes, which is probably some technique he uses to make me feel more positive about myself, but it is appreciated all the same and one of the key reasons I like him.
No one has to endure listening to us complain quite as much as Mike does and the amazing thing is he never judges us for it. There is always a positive he draws from our petty problems that he uses to build us up to make us feel like we can conquer the world. He never tells us that we are being stupid or pathetic, even when we probably are. He is the positive force driving out any negative vibes. If you think of a puppy that has just been told it is going for a walk, you have a pretty good description for what he is like. He is anomalous and crazy in all the best ways. He is happy, all of the time. At six in the morning when we wake up for a session he will be standing there beaming, probably saying some bad joke about Monday in fact being “MonYAY” whilst we all groan and try not to roll our eyes. It is cheesy statements like these that prepare us best for whatever doom coach has waiting for us and makes the whole workout a little bit more bearable.
One peculiar thing about Mike is that he hardly talks about himself. Trust me, he is an onion that is hard to peel, which is probably why unless you are on the team you haven’t heard about him. This quality of his to remain invisible is baffling to me; as a freshman I haven’t been here for a long time but it is difficult not to notice how much of a positive impact he has had on the whole demeanor of the little eccentric group that I now think of as a family. You can always tell when someone has talked to him as there will be a bounce in their step that wasn’t there before. A bounce that only comes from the realization that everything you need to succeed is already inside you, a realization that Mike helps show us.
So Mike, I hope you enjoyed your moment in the spotlight, and even if you didn’t, I am glad you finally got it. We will try not to be too sad as we “wave” you onto your new adventure but I know for a fact 6:30 practices are not nearly going to be as much fun without your cheesy jokes.
As for the team, well Friday we have regionals and I know that despite the speed bumps we have been hitting recently we will have an edge over our opponents as we will be channeling something they haven’t even come across. We will be channeling our inner Mike.
Those teams better be scared.
Florida State freshman Jodie Judd, from Canvey Island, Great Britain, volunteered to take a crack at the weekly women’s cross country blog. Not only has she been one of the standouts on the team this season, her endearing personality and humor shines through in the written word as well.