We witnessed another of those ways yesterday at the regional collegiate track and field event. Our son and his training partner and fellow heptathlete Alec had both performed less well than they wanted over the two day event. Alec, who is a spectacular athlete and was seeded first in the field, had DQ'ed in shot put after fouling three times. His dad was in the stands, the first time he'd been able to attend one of his son's college meets, and I wonder sometimes if the presence of parents don't make our children a little nervous, no matter how nonchalant they seem. Our son, who was seeded tenth, jumped a lower height than he is capable of in the pole vault, getting eliminated from that event early. There was now no way either one could amass the points to finish in medals, and they both considered not running the final 1,000 meter race. As has been explained to me, that race, after two full days of competing, is excruciating. But in the end, both young men did run. They ran it for their coach, whose brother in law had died unexpectedly at age 38 just a couple of days after States last week. When they told the coach they didn't want to run the event, he said, "This is the last indoor meet of your college career. Don't go out that way. Run it for me, and cross the finish line together." And they did. They ran the race together, marking each other's time, step for step as a tribute to their coach and the way he always pushed them to be better. After the race, I watched from the stands as all three men hugged each other. I couldn't see from where I was but I sensed there were tears. It was beautiful.
That's his dad's hand, loving him.