For many runners and athletes in general, their passion for the sport was ignited at a young age. High school may trigger memories of bad hair days and an awkward braces phase, but it also brings back memories of a first track meet, team championships, and lifelong friendships made through surviving team practices together. We reached out to our ShokzStars to learn how running in high school impacted their lives and what the gift of the AfterShokz Making Stridez Grant would’ve meant to them as youth runners.
How did running in high school help you develop as an athlete and a young adult?
“Becoming part of the track team in middle and high school gave me confidence in my own ability and a sense of camaraderie and belonging to something bigger than myself. It helped me gain a healthy perspective of my body, which later on would play a role in helping me overcome disordered eating habits.
Being part of a track team gave me a place to strive to better myself, but also to be a team player that encouraged and cheered for those around her. As part of a 4x4 relay team that went to state my freshman year, I learned what it looks like to trust your teammates, but also to have compassion and understanding when the baton was dropped and our collective hopes fell short of what we’d expected we could do. In a relay, you have to think as one, and blaming someone else for failure wasn’t an option. You learn lessons, you keep running, and cheer for your friends. Those are just a few things running taught me.”
“Running in high school showed me my strength mentally and physically, as well as what commitment means. I wanted to quit the first year because I didn’t think I was capable. My mother told me to give it a week and keep trying and I fell in love and have been running ever since.”
What are some ways your running team or coaches supported you both on and off the track? Why do those moments stand out to you?
“I wasn’t the fastest girl out there but I showed up every day and kept my head in the training. My coach surprised me by making me captain of my XC team because he said my determination and consistency is what will pay off in the end. I hold that to be true still today in running and in life.”
“I wouldn’t be a runner if it wasn’t for Coach L. She was my middle school teacher and the first person to start a track team at my small private school. I think the entire 8th-grade class joined her team and some of my favorite memories of learning to love running were spending time under her coaching and instruction. That school year was a tough one for me and she was a constant encouragement in the classroom, on the track, and just in my life. I don’t know what my life would look like without the love, support, and daily hugs I got from Coach L that year.”
Why do you think a cash and team gear donation, like the AfterShokz Making Stridez Grant, is such a significant opportunity for high school teams and coaches?
“If we're being honest, running is an overlooked, underfunded sport in a lot of high schools. In my high school days, we were individually responsible for buying trainers, racing spikes, uniforms, warm-ups. etc. I grew up in an upper-middle-class suburb so purchasing these items wasn't a huge problem but this is obviously not the case for many young athletes and their families.
Having monetary assistance and gear provided could make the difference between athletes being able to participate or having to opt-out. It may sound dramatic, but providing an athlete with needed gear and facilitating their participation in running may literally shape their lives.”
“Our sports teams were more or less funded enough to provide us with loaner equipment and team uniforms. Growing up, my family was a little less well-off and so had I been forced to pay for my own equipment and uniforms, I probably wouldn’t have been able to participate. By providing a cash grant and team gear donation to high school teams, the students on the team will have more bandwidth to focus on developing their mental and physical fortitude that comes with competing in sports.”
To learn more about the AfterShokz Making Stridez Grant or to make a nomination on behalf of a youth running program or coach, please visit aftershokz.com/makingstridez. Nominations are open through 11:59 p.m. ET on June 22, 2020. (U.S. only).