Welcome to the fourth Throwback Thursday! Each week, I will share one running-related photo from my past and explain why looking back on that moment brings me joy. Click here for last week’s post.
Some of my fondest running-related memories at Augustana came from overnight trips with my team. Of course, we treated these occasions as business trips above all else, but there’s still something special that happens when everyone gets “in the zone” under the same roof the night before a meet.
But this is not one of those stories.
Athletically, 2016 was an off year for Augustana women’s cross country; we didn’t qualify for nationals, and at most meets, we could barely scrape together an injury-free scoring team. Although hosting both conference and regionals in Sioux Falls was fun (and convenient for the fans), we missed the hype of hours-long van rides, team meetings in hotel lobbies and opportunities to explore new places.
Yet out of the disappointment came small, lemonade-out-of-lemons moments that still make me smile.
One such memory took place on the eve of the 2016 Roy Griak Invitational. At that point in the season, only three of our women were race-ready. The rest were either fully injured or dealing with aches and pains that would have developed into full-on injuries after enduring Griak’s infamous hills. So a few days prior, our coaches made a difficult, yet smart, decision to only take the men’s team to Minnesota. Many of us were bummed, but we ultimately understood where they were coming from.
That Friday night, the men were in Minneapolis prepping for Griak while the women remained in Sioux Falls. Prime conditions for a pity party, I thought. Fortunately, before I could lock myself in my dorm room and devour a family-sized bag of cheesy popcorn, a few of my teammates proposed a better evening activity: pull a prank on the men’s team.
At the time, all of the upperclassmen men on the team lived in a big blue house across from the sophomore dorms. It was easy to access and — most importantly — entirely empty. So, we decided to create the ultimate scavenger hunt, hiding all of their video game controllers around the house and writing clues on neon Post-it notes. The five of us (pictured above in a post-prank selfie) laughed way too hard at the goofy puns we wrote down. Honestly, we probably had more fun when we were creating the scavenger hunt than the guys had when they were solving our ridiculous riddles.
Sure, it’s fun to travel. It’s fun to win races. It’s fun to compete against the best in the region. However, the fun doesn’t have to stop when these elements are stripped away. We don’t have to lose team culture just because we lose a race or two. In fact, our attitude during seasons of adversity often shapes our capacity for resilience in the future. Ultimately, I’m grateful to have been surrounded by amazing teammates — such as these four — whose overall joy was unshaken by worldly circumstances.