Running on the right path

I remember when I was too young to be nostalgic.
But while some consider reminiscing a sure sign of aging, I consider it more of an appreciation of some of life’s lessons which may have been forgotten as the chapters of time turn their innumerable pages.
Thoughts of simpler days gone by filled my mind last Wednesday (hey, something has to take up the empty space) as I attended the regional cross-country championships at Crossroads School in Devlin.
The roughly 300 competitors from Grades 4-8 helped me recall my own glory days as an elementary and junior high school cross-country runner.
Bear in mind that glory is all subjective. For some, it was finishing first. For those of us in the shallow end of the athletic talent pool, it was not finishing last.
I made a point before all my races of taking a quick head count of the number of other racers that I would be challenging (yeah, right) that day. For me, as long as I crossed the finish line and heard a number lower than that of the number of competitors, I considered it a personal victory.
Of course, you go into every race trying your best and hoping to taste victory. For me, that lasted about the first 200 yards, before dirt and grass being churned backwards by the feet of those who were quickly disappearing from sight.
Seeing the fire-engine red faces and hearing the emphatic panting of all those who crossed the finish line last week, I could easily put myself in their sneakers (Did I just say sneakers? I’m getting older by the minute, for crying out loud).
The thoughts running through their minds were probably the same ones I had when I was competing: “Will someone please kill me and end my pain?” and “Funny, i could have sworn there was more oxygen in the atmospher before I started the race.”
But several parents whom I chatted with in Devlin brought to light a very important aspect of not only cross-country running, but youth athletics in general.
The more sporting opportunities available to young people, the less likely they’ll be out and about entertaining themselves in other less productive ways, which may lead to unpleasant situations.
Athletics can go along way towards eliminating the ever-popular “there’s nothing for us to do” chant that spouts from the lips of much of the youth community.
The Crossroads meet also was a fascinating example of how young people with common interests can get along when placed in a nurturing environment. Student runners spent their time before and after the races playing, laughing and sharing with those from different towns.
Crossroads principal Brian Lowe said it best as he viewed the comforting scene: “When was the last time you saw 300 kids from 14 different schools get together in the same place, and all get along?”
It’s a goal all of us should take a run at.
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The minor hockey season started out on a sweet note for the Fort Frances K of C Knights PeeWee ‘A’ hockey team.
The Knights clobbered an over-matched Kenora squad 17-1 in exhibition before hanging a 16-0 defeat on Kenora in the return matchup here Sunday.
“We had a large jump on them in terms of conditioning,” said Knights head coach mark McCaig. “I’m lucky. Every single kid I have is enthusiastic about playing, and gives 110 percent. It’s easy to coach this group.”
The Knights’ next action will be an exhibition game October 19 in Dryden.
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The Fort Frances Curling Club will host a curling clinic next Saturday (oct. 19) from 9-3 p.m. Call Rick Grenda at the club (274-6667) for more details.
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If you are planning any sporting events, or have some sports-related information or scores, feel free to call me at 274-5373 ext. 237 or via email at jpayeur@fortfrances.com.

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