Reflections on Track Season and Spaghetti Dinner

One thing I’ve realized over the past few months is that sometimes life has a way of putting you in the right place at the right time, even when you don’t know it right away.

Double rainbow over the track during the beginning of the season- a promise for a bright future.

My journey started last summer and fall when my job sponsored a company-wide Couch to 5K program and 5K race. Even though I’ve been running for years, I enjoyed going to the training sessions to run with everyone and encourage the new runners and others returning to running from a hiatus. Since everyone already knew I was excited about it and a runner, a lot of people came to me for advice, which I happily gave, along with the disclaimer that I’m just a recreational runner with no real training besides life experience and what I’ve read on the internet.

Don’t need Coach Google to know this!

Obviously, after the 5K race, the Couch to 5K training sessions ended, and I was left with a lot of free time and missed the opportunity to encourage and motivate runners. This is when my awesome friend and coworker Celia told me about the Florence Track Club, which is a youth club in town for kids ages 6-18 to run cross country or track. Celia’s friend and the club president, Coach Bill, was looking for runners interested in running with the kids and coaching.

I took them up on the offer. I thought this would be a great way to get some running in and volunteer in the community.

It changed my life.

Isiah and I, so proud of him for passing English, graduating, and heading off to college where he will run track!

Through coaching cross country and track, I’ve discovered so much about myself, others, success, and what it means to truly be a winner- and it’s not always about a medal or ribbon at the end of a race. I took it pretty seriously, looking up workouts online, planning activities for my 1500m and 3000m kids to do during practice, and learning from other coaches and awesome runners.

But more important than workouts from Coach Google are the sweaty hugs and high fives, the lucky sayings and superstitions, not to mention seeing a kid “surge” down the track when they realize you’re cheering for them by name.

I think all kids can be successful in a sport, as long as you remember that success is different for everyone. For some kids, success is a personal best, placing in a race, or qualifying for regionals or nationals. Sometimes success is making it through an entire practice with no tears, learning how to listen to coaches, follow directions, and obey rules, or meeting a diverse group of friends when participating in your first city-wide sport.

Sure, coaching track is volunteer and won’t bring home the bacon tofu (since I’m vegetarian) like my big girl job, but I treated it like a job, a responsibility to the kiddos. One little girl, who I didn’t actually coach- she did field events, even dubbed me the “Boss of the 1500″. I guess when you’re 8, the terms coach and boss are interchangeable.

Not only do I love motivating and encouraging others, I’ve learned that it’s truly a gift from God, and as the runner Steve Prefontaine quotes, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift”.

Even though I’ve moved to Charleston and obviously cannot coach for the Florence Track Club anymore, I refuse to sacrifice the gift.  Once I’m settled, I plan to coach cross country for another club and am considering getting a USATF Level 1 Certification.

Belinda and I. This is the most dressed up we have ever seen each other… yay for real girl clothes!

Last Tuesday night, the club gave me a journal that they signed and wrote messages in over the past week (I know my fellow 1500 coach, Belinda, headed this up, even though she tried desperately to keep it a secret!). Knowing I’d shed some tears, I waited until I got home that night to read the messages, but when I did, a few certainly stood out to me.

Hey Coach Amy, I know there’s a lot of people sighing this, but know this- I will pray for you know matter what. May you feel God’s presence, belive, love, and stay strong. -V

Oh Amy… I know you put your heart in all you do and will be missed in the lives and places you have touched. Florence won’t be the same. Charleston better watch out for the Tiny Terror -A.

Coach Amy, You have been 50 percent of why I run harder cause you say no to the stuff we *want* to do. Thank you. -S

Amy, you are a great coach. The way you work with the kids makes me want to be a better coach. -S

This year, so many kids, parents, volunteers, and other coaches saw my potential as a coach, even when I didn’t always see it. When I read the last message, I saw it.

And originally, *I* was the one doing this to encourage others.

Ivan and I after our last race. Hope we get to run another race together someday soon! I gotta work back up to his 24 minute trail 5K pace.


Last Thursday evening, the eve of my moving day and the USATF state meet, the club held its awards ceremony and spaghetti dinner, where everyone left with certificates, shirts, tons of encouragement, and bellies full of pasta and tasty desserts. I also got an awesome framed team picture of my track kiddos and a shirt that everyone signed.

Victoria and I. She has such a sweet spirit.

I’m super proud of *all* the kids. This past weekend at the state meet, we had 47 young athletes qualify for the Regional USATF meet in Newport News, Va. We also had quite a few kids PR and set some state records. With moving, I obviously couldn’t be at the meet, but heard so many compliments on how well our kids did, both on and off the track and field. As coaches, we all know about their hard work and talent, but it was great that they performed well at the meet for the city and state to see.

This was tasty- I made sure to get the piece that had my name on it too, even though it was a huge piece of cake and I couldn’t eat it all.

I’m sure in life, I’ll coach many kiddos and possibly multiple sports, but this first group will always hold a special place in my heart. Way to go, Florence Track Club!

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18 Responses to Reflections on Track Season and Spaghetti Dinner

  1. ladycoop says:

    aww, that’s so sweet of them to send you off with a book and signed shirt. I love being able to go back and read things my friends wrote. :)

  2. I’m so glad you found this and enjoyed it. I def think coaching gives such a new meaning to something you enjoyed. Running is fun, but seeing others do well is just as fun!

  3. I am so glad you had this experience, it looks so rewarding.

  4. Shayna says:

    Awww, that was so sweet, I almost cried. We definitely miss you as a part of the FTC, but who am I kidding, you are always going to be a part of the FTC no matter where you live. I’m sad that I missed the dinner, but I’m glad that you got to have a fun FTC farewell. I hope that things are going well!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      It was a super fun dinner and I’m sorry you missed it too, we definitely missed you there :). Yeah, FTC will always have a special place in my heart, and any other club I coach for will surely understand that. I do hope I can get back to Florence sometime soon to run some races, and you’re always welcome to come visit here too :).

  5. Wow what a beautifully written and thoughtful post Amy! I am simply thrilled for you that you had this kind of experience and I know you helped improve people’s lives through this! Plus you earned some wonderful memories for yourself :)

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Tessa. I’m not sure about beautifully written, but I’m a pretty harsh critic of my own writing, but thoughtful maybe ;). I have lots of great friends and memories that I will take with me wherever I move and coach!

  6. lindsay says:

    so precious!! i like how one kid said you were 1/2 the reason why he does something, but not the whole reason ;) haha. cute. you will never know how much you touched these kid’s lives but you will remember them for forever! hope you can find a new club to jump in with soon – i have no doubts you are an amazing coach. (and this makes me want to find a running club here – though i feel like we don’t have those? how did you find yours?)

    • Amy Lauren says:

      If you’re looking for a club, you can go to the USATF website and view clubs by state. There are a few clubs in the Charleston area and I’m sure there are some in your area because Florence has one and isn’t a very big town. But it varies from area to area, I guess. Plus, I got to meet a lot of other runners with coaching which was super fun too!

  7. Kara says:

    This made me teary eyed! You should be so proud – you have a lot of people who are supporting you; and obviously you are SUCH a good person and coach. I think it would be so great to get a certification. I hope you find something in Charleston that you are just as passionate about! PS Love the cake :)

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Haha, it was a tasty cake, I really wish it had some little stick figure of some of us coaching on it or something, haha. The slice with my name was huge so me and a friend sorta share the frosting, lol. The frosting was so good!

      I am looking into coaching for another club down here and already working on it, but not going into details on the blog yet. Regardless, my loyalty is to FTC until next season!

  8. Awwww, this is too cute! I think these kinds of experiences are priceless, both for the ones being helped and the ones doing the helping or coaching. And it’s so great to realize that the experience ended up rewarding you and not just the kids. I would really love to do something like this that helps kids realize their true potential in something, I’m not sure what but it’s definitely something I want to do in my life.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      It’s definitely rewarding :). I hope you get a chance to do something similar, maybe in a field that you enjoy yourself. It really reinvigorates your passions too, and kids always keep you smiling!

  9. u really have to kno how many lives u’ve touched, and will continue to touch, through coaching!!! the memories these kids have will last forever and the lessons the sport teaches will help propel them further in life…and u’ve been a part of that! :) such an awesome end of season cake and i think u SHOULD eat it all…dive in it actually. :)

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Cait. The lessons you learn in sports and running definitely help you in life! Don’t worry, that cake was devoured… with so many kids and parents there we had absolutely no leftovers and ran out of a lot of foods at the dinner, haha! But what can I say, we are runners and we can eat…

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