Athlete uses sport as method of escape, stress relief

Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 11:12 am

“Runners set, runners to your mark.”

These are six intense words that hype athletes as they are stepping onto the track. For sophomore track athlete, Kaitlyn Brock these words can be the beginning of a victory, but to her, winning isn’t all that matters.

“As long as you improve your running time, or improve your jump, in the coach’s eyes, you’ve already won,” Brock said.

Sports for any individual can relieve stress. For Brock, it’s a chance for her to not only catch her racing feet, but gather her racing mind.

“Running gives me a chance to clear my mind,” Brock said. “I do my best thinking when I’m running. It doesn’t have to be at a track meet either. Just running on a paved road gives me the same peace of mind. Running is the only time I don’t have to put makeup on, or worry about my hair, or if my shoes match my outfit.”

Many hope to advance to the highest levels in sports, but for Brock, running will always remain part of her life, regardless of where it takes her.

“I’m nowhere near ready to take track all the way to the Olympics or anything like that, but I don’t have to,” Brock said. “Running is something that I’m not required to be the best in because it will never leave my life. I can run where I want, when I want.”

Balancing grades is an important factor for many athletes, and this is especially true for Brock.

“Track, grades, and behavior in the classroom go hand-in-hand,” Brock said. “No grades, no go. My coaches tell me and my fellow teammates that we are ‘student athletes.’ Students first, athletes second.”

Brock has learned many life lessons through track, but one has proved to be superior to the rest.

“My coach always says ‘hard work pays off’, and it’s so true,” Brock said. “I always think to myself ‘when it starts to hurt, go faster,’ and by doing that I break through the pain barrier and push myself a little harder to go that extra mile. Every time you do something, you always get a little bit better at it. Day by day, week by week, you will get better at anything you do.”

Out of numerous memories, one track moment stands out to Brock the most.

“The time I got close to winning the 800 meter dash. I got third, but first and second were only a couple of seconds ahead of me,” Brock said. “I don’t know how else to explain it other than my determination finally got me one step further to my goal, a first place ribbon.”

On the team, the dynamic quickly turns from a friendly relationship to a family bond, and this is especially true for Brock and her tight-knit team.

“During meets, we yell, we cheer, we scream, some make signs to hold up, and some stand on the field at the finish line screaming until the one that’s competing crosses that line,” Brock said. “We are like a big family.”

Track coach Stacy Beal feels the same about her team being a close group and strongly believes in respect, and is humbled by Brock’s response to be respectful in return.

“Kaitlyn is always the type of kid that never argues,” Beal said. “Her reply is always ‘Yes ma’am’ and as a coach, that is sometimes hard to find. She will try and do whatever you ask of her.”

Beal does her best to make her runners feel special by rewarding them for their hard work and giving them incentive to push further.

“I always visit with my runners about setting goals,” Beal said. “I am making special shirts for the top kids in certain races. I also try to motivate my athletes by buying them nice uniforms and shoes.”

Although track is mostly an independent sport, teamwork remains strong throughout the track team, ensuring that winning is for all to share.

“There’s never a dull moment with my team,” Brock said. “We work hard together, we sweat together, we laugh together, and we win together.”

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