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Columbus North Athletic Director Jeff Hester was at the Wigh Soccer Complex listening to news about Bull Dogs runner Mackenzie Caldwell, who destroyed the girls regional cross-country field at Eagle Park on Saturday morning in Nashville.
“Athletes like that only come along once in a long, long time,” Hester said.
Considering that Hester’s business is athletes, he has a little knowledge on the subject. He is dead on the money.
People in the community, on the other hand, probably don’t realize what they are missing. So here is a head’s up.
Get off the couch before it’s too late.
Caldwell is a senior, and she has only two more high school cross-country meets to run. One is next Saturday’s semi-state championships (10:30 a.m.) at Eagle Park. For goodness sakes, it’s only 15 minutes away.
You are going to hear the talk in the future, somebody in town saying how incredible it was to watch Caldwell do her thing. You won’t be involved in that conversation because you never saw Caldwell run.
The reason? You don’t have any kids going to North, or they long since have graduated.
Don’t let that be an excuse. This is about community pride. And something more, this is about inspiration.
My advice would be not only to go watch Caldwell run next Saturday, but bring your son or daughter or grand kid. Bring a neighbor. How many times have you heard a professional athlete say that he or she was inspired because of one day at a park where they were awed by an athlete? All the time.
It’s hard not to be inspired when you watch an athlete who has achieved a high level through nothing but grueling work. Caldwell has run every day for more than 1,200 days in a row.
The only thing I have done daily for that long would be eat.
Wouldn’t it be great to expose a local kid to that kind of dedication? I guarantee you Caldwell and her teammates would be willing to slap that kid a high five or spend a few moments chatting.
Don’t miss this opportunity.
We’ve got a steady diet of great athletes who are attending high school in the area right now. Caldwell is just one.
You can bet members of the current Columbus North boys soccer team will be playing in college and, who knows, possibly beyond. The Bull Dogs are chasing a second consecutive state title, and they have the possibility of two more games. Time is running out to see them as well.
Columbus East’s football team is ranked No. 1 in the state and, after playing a road game to start the playoffs next Friday, is likely to be back home for more action. If you haven’t seen tailback Markell Jones do his thing behind a very special offensive line, shame on you.
The Columbus East girls soccer team just won a regional championship as well. That’s a great story in itself. Besides that, they are just darned fun to watch.
So in this busy world, take a time out. It’s another afternoon of television or a chance to see some very special local kids accomplishing some very special feats.
Go see them. You will be glad you did.
Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 379-5632.
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