Solomon Strader is a senior at West Ranch High School in Santa Clarita. The talented 200 and 400 meter runner is signed with the University of Miami and has produced personal best times of 21.45 and 46.59 seconds, respectively. While the CIF announced its decision to cancel the spring track and field season recently, Strader still has greater hopes and will continue to think big. He relays his thoughts in the latest Dear Running essay.
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Eleven years we have known each other. We have had our ups and downs, success and failures, but at the end of the day we stick together. So many people devote themselves to this great sport. Athletes, coaches, parents, reporters, schools and many others. We love to sit down in those hot and uncomfortable bleachers and watch athletes go head to head. We cheer for our friends and even sometimes our competitors. But what we really want to see is great competition, regardless of school, nationality or event.
When I was young I would watch Usain Bolt flying through the finish line, knowing all of his speed and power and success comes purely from him. As I grew older, however, I realized I was wrong. The fastest runners, the strongest thrower, the longest and highest jumpers, they are not successful purely because of their athleticism. It is because of the amount of work they put in. It is their determination and their passion of the sport that makes them champions.
You are only as good as the people around you, and throughout anyone's track and field career, they'll meet some phenomenal people, people with the same passion and drive you may have, people who are willing to sacrifice so much too see you reach your goals. You will never be able to win a race on your own.
In order to get to that next level, in order to climb the ranks of track and field, you need to have the drive for success. And I know I have that drive as many others do. But still, something is missing. The last piece that makes a great runner is the team surrounding them. It's their friends and families, coaches and supporters, the people who are willing to take time and help you reach your goal. You are only as good as the people around you, and throughout anyone's track and field career, they'll meet some phenomenal people, people with the same passion and drive you may have, people who are willing to sacrifice so much too see you reach your goals. You will never be able to win a race on your own. And to the common spectator it may seem as if these athletes are doing it all themselves, but there is more that meets the eye.
Now here we are, after months of training, our journey has taken a sudden halt. Tracks are closed and gyms are shut down. I can no longer be with this sport, which makes me appreciate it that much more. To some, running may be just that: Running around an oval or running around a course. But to me? It simply is not. To my fellow athletes, it is our livelihood. It defines and shapes who we are as human beings.
Yet maybe this is what we need; maybe our season being taken away will teach us an important lesson. We are more than athletes. While running fits into our our lives right now, and some are doing everything in their power to continue it, running is not all we have. If you take track and field from me, I am still Solomon Strader. Perhaps that is the question we should be asking ourselves right now: Are we still the same person without sports in our lives? Maybe this is all a lesson someone is trying to teach us; maybe this time off is something we all need, to come back better and stronger not just as athletes but as leaders in our community.
The fastest runners, the strongest thrower, the longest and highest jumpers, they are not successful purely because of their athleticism. It is because of the amount of work they put in. It is their determination and their passion of the sport that makes them champions.
I feel for those who have not yet signed with a college. Those who were planning on setting a name for themselves this year, those who plan on shattering records and winning titles. To those I would say, 'Do not lose hope.' Running has shown me what a true athlete really looks like and it has shown me the sacrifices one must do in order to succeed. It's shown me the beautiful people who make this sport what it is, but most of all it has taught me to always have hope.
Who says you can't come back next year? Who says you still can't run in college? Who says your track career is worthless now? Have hope, hope that we will get through this together and most importantly have hope in yourself as hope will always prevail.
Conan O'Brien said it best:
"Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."
West Ranch '20
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