The Toughest One

She walked into practice on the first day and it was clear, she wouldn’t be an easy one to coach.

I knew immediately, though, we’d get along well.

She talked when she wanted. She did what she wanted. She complained often.

She was frustrating.

She wore basketball shorts and a backwards baseball cap. Nothing matched. That’s how she liked it.

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She belched. She laughed loudly. She screamed for attention.

She told us she was bored.

She cursed.

She wanted attention. She got it sometimes.

She pushed herself. She pushed her friends — not literally. She took things seriously.

She improved. She felt good about it.

She was sometimes rude. She ate with her retainer in. She didn’t care. She was hilarious.

She gave compliments. She received compliments.

She participated. She opened up about tough topics.

She told me to wear my hat every week so we could match. She forgot hers, every week.

She bitched through every run. I didn’t think she’d be able to finish the first race.

She did. Actually, she killed it.

She played with my hair. She asked for piggybacks. Demanded.

She did the warm-ups and the workouts. She complained less. She burped more. She laughed more.

She believed in herself.

She told us she didn’t want the season to end. She asked me to babysit. She told me she loved me.

She wore a smile to the last race, even in the rain. She didn’t complain.

She ran through the finish line — that smile still on her face.

She ran into my arms and hugged me tightly.

She did it.

She’s my girl. She’s gonna be great.

She is.

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