Student, Parkway West, Class of 2018,
Three of the most popular extracurricular activities at Parkway West High School are volleyball, lacrosse, and football. These are great extracurriculars to be involved with, however I haven't any of them. I like something more off the beaten path. One that I would recommend is cross country. I suppose I am more than little biased because I am in cross country, but truly this sport is one of the best things at Parkway West. Before starting cross country in high school, I did it in middle school, so I wasn't a fish out of water on the first day freshman year. Or so I thought. The first day of practice, I came down to the track, eager to meet my friends who were doing it and scared because I had seen the high school girls practicing before on our middle school runs. Their faces would be bright red and they would stagger along the road with tears in their eyes, almost like tomatoes who had looked for too long at some onions. When my friends had suggested that we join cross country, you can understand my hesitation. My first day of practice was the first day of school because I had been out of town for the two weeks that the team had practiced before the school year even began. Needless to say, I was nervous. At the track, my friends were there...along with scary sophomores, juniors, and seniors. We walked down to the track after Coach came, and I was already sweating. We warmed up like middle school and ran a couple of warm up laps. And then Coach told us to hit the hill. I stood there dazed, as twenty girls sprinted towards the hill near the track who I later found out was named Brutus. They lay down in push up position at the base of Brutus, and started climbing up it backwards on their hands and feet. It was beyond bizarre, and when Coach looked expectantly at me, I straightened up and walked to the hill. It looked like a piece of cake. In reality, every single one of muscles burned, my head felt heavy, and I had to stop several times. That was when I was really first introduced to the endurance of cross country. There would be many days to come that I would ache during repeats, when I didn't want to wake up at 5:30 am to go swimming in the ice cold school pool, when I would feel like twisting my ankle if only to stop running. I would ask myself many times why I did the sport. It wasn't until I conquered Brutus that I had my answer. One day, we were climbing Brutus, and I got ready for another round of aching muscle and frustration. But that day I passed the spot I normally stopped at with ease. I glided into unknown territory up that hill, and suddenly my foot felt something hard. I had made it to the top! That day was the day that I knew why I did cross country. It's really not about the times you get, the amount of medals you win, even the people you pass on the way to the finish. I've learned that you have to find yourself in order to push yourself. You have to push yourself until you think you have nothing left, and then you have to push even more. There will be days when you run a bad race, when you can't seem to breathe, and that's when you remember to push through your mental barriers to tell your brain to shut up and keep running. You have to be determined to make it through these bad days in life, and that is what cross country has taught me. I am now part of a family of girls who will support me, who will cry with me, who will celebrate with me, and who will cheer me up through life's ups and downs. Without cross country, I can honestly say I don't know where I would be today which is about as cliche as you can get. But it is true. You are a runner for life, you are determined to face life, and you get friends for life. That is why I recommend cross country.