So today is Halloween and in honor of such a day, I’m dressing up as a serious Bryce for this article.
There’s a line from the movie School of Rock that makes my mom’s blood boil. Sometimes when I’m home for too long in the summer and don’t have anything else to do besides terrorize her, I’ll recite it casually when I walk by her in the kitchen to leave my dirty dishes in the sink instead of putting them in the dishwasher just to see how she’ll react (I never said I’m winning Son of the Year). It goes, “Those that can’t do, teach, and those that can’t teach…teach gym.”
I don’t think I have to tell you what my mom’s profession is.
It’s not that I believe what Jack Black’s burnout rocker-turned-teacher character from the movie says is true, but every now and then, my hands are tied and I just have to tease the resident gym teacher. But to be fair, my mom is the best teacher I’ve ever had. She’s wise beyond whatever amount of years she’s comfortable admitting she is. Happy almost birthday Mom! And while I was jogging around on the starting line waiting for the gun to go off after Kentucky Derby bugler played Call to Post like we were some kind of dumb horses that have lived their lives to race and win glory for some wealthy benefactor (wait this sounds familiar, Coach are we dumb horses?) I realized that what my mom had told me the night before on the phone was perhaps the best lesson she’s ever taught me.
I am very lucky. It took that phone call to my mom the night before ACCs to remember that. I told her it wasn’t fair that running might be taken away from me and she reminded me of all that running has given me. I told her I wanted to walk away from running on my own terms and not because of a vague medical condition and she reminded me of all the times that I wanted to walk away from the sport in the past and didn’t.
She reminded me of how she used to have to cajole me not to quit before each race in middle school. She reminded me of last fall when I called her to tell her that I just wanted to be a NARP (Non-Athletic Regular Person for you NARPS out there that don’t know you’re NARPS) because I didn’t think I could get healthy after a summer spent in a back brace. She told me I was lucky to be in Louisville about to run what could be my last race. She said I was lucky to be a Nole and travel all around the country and do what I love to do. I was lucky to meet and train alongside the amazing people here and experience all that I have. And what do you know, the gym teacher was right.
My mom used to tell me something else when I was just starting out running. She would say to never look back in a race – that looking back showed weakness; that it showed you didn’t have enough juice to finish the race without worrying who was going to pass you. And I don’t look back when I race.
I certainly didn’t on Friday, which is why I ran in second place for a few brief minutes without knowing I was running by myself – well besides teammate Humberto leaching off of me. I didn’t look back as I started dropping back, feeling like it was the first time I had run in months – it was only the first time I had run in a week or so. And I didn’t look back when, succumbing to muscles that refused to do what they’re supposed to do, I stepped off the course.
Whether or not I can don the FSU singlet again, I don’t plan on looking back. I’m extremely lucky to be a part of this team, this family. The guys I lined up next to last Friday made me proud by how much they fought and clawed. I know they’re going to make me proud next week in Saban-Nation – Tuscaloosa, Alabama – when they make a statement at regionals and earn a berth to nationals. And when I see those sinister black uniforms again tear through the course at Louisville when nationals rolls around, I’ll know how lucky I am to call these hooligans teammates.
Anyway, cheers and Happy Halloween! Go eat candy and pretend you don’t know every line when you watch Hocus Pocus tonight.
Bryce Kelley, a graduate student in Integrated Marketing Communications, is a fifth-year Seminole from Hope Valley, R.I. A two-time All-ACC Academic selection in cross country with his undergraduate degree in Creative Writing, Kelley will be providing a weekly inside look at the FSU men’s team throughout the season.