Monday, November 20, 2006

Are we running today?

I realized that one of the reasons I've been having trouble writing about my experiences in Korea is that I've been trying to do it while strategically slicing out everything related to the school where I work. That's a fatal flaw, because it means constructing a narrative void of, well, people. So, I can't remedy those omissions all at once, but I'll begin by writing about this weekend.

Ever since the second week of school (oh, wow, 12 weeks ago now...?) I've been coaching the cross-country team. I use coaching in a somewhat loose sense, because normally when athletes are being coached they have some sort of drive motivating a desire to work hard and improve, as well as a commitment to their teammates, their coaches, and their sport. This was, most of the time, not the case with my athletes.

Ok, so I'm selling some of my students short. There were a few notable exceptions, but for the most part getting my students to run four days a week (or even three, or two...) was worse than getting them do their own homework instead of copying a friend's answers.

"Miss W.B., are we running today?"
"Yes, we run every day."

You don't even want to know how many times I had this exchange...with the same student.

"Miss W.B., are we running today?"
"Why would we NOT run today?"
"Because it rained this morning."
"You are hopeless."

My students would walk whenever I was out of eyesight, then start running again as soon as they knew I could see them. They complained of sore ankles, sore muscles, sore skin, sore eyelids, who knows what else...

And yet, when race day rolled around...

We killed. Annihilated. Flattened. The other schools looked at us with simultaneous contempt and respect.

"You...practiced? How much?"

As if practicing was a form of cheating or something.

More about race weekend to come, but at least now you have (some of) the background.

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