Friday, April 29, 2016

The Windsor 5K: It's not about where you finish

I had a great time last Friday at the Annual Windsor 5K, an event started 13 years ago by Georgie D. Tyler Middle School PE teacher Jeff Hampton. Students from Westside Elementary, Smithfield Middle, Georgie Tyler, and even a small group from Windsor High participated in the event.  This event has evolved quite a bit from the first year when only 40 runners from then Windsor Middle ran the race on the school grounds.  Six or seven years ago, other schools began participating as the race moved to the roads around Windsor High and Middle. The students spend at least six weeks training during their Physical Education class or through before and after school running clubs.

My wife and I have been runners for many years, so I was extremely excited to see a teacher inspire young people to set goals, keep their focus, and compete in a sport in which everyone can be successful and get healthy at the same time.  Most every parent would be thrilled if their child was a superstar athlete or high school valedictorian.  Encouraging students to be competitive can help them develop discipline and commitment.  However, there can be negative consequences if the only benefit the student or adult sees with competing is to always win.   Many of the successful people I’ve met have several things in common. They have a pure love for the activities they are involved in, and have unconditional supporters, such as coaches, parents, siblings, peers and other positive role models. It was clear on Friday that Coach Hampton is one of these unconditional supporters.

I had the privilege of observing one of his classes a few weeks before the 5K. I witnessed young people at all levels pushing themselves and training for the event. Coach Hampton encouraged each student to work hard in order to reach the goal they set for themselves.  I saw all children, regardless of their athletic ability, excited about participating with their peers.  I also saw students supporting each other with words of motivation or even by running together in a buddy system. It is obvious that Mr. Hampton has created an inclusive, positive, learning environment in which all students can reach their potential. 

All of this work definitely paid off on Friday.  The smiling faces, the encouraging cheers, and the relationships built during this special event will not soon be forgotten.  To some, it may have been just a race.  To me, it was the culminating event to a great learning experience that, for some, will inspire a love for running that will last a lifetime.  Thank you to all of the people who assisted with this great event.  A special thank you to the PE teachers in the participating schools who also served as unconditional supporters for their students:  Westside—Mrs. Bradshaw, Mr. Britt; Smithfield Middle—Mrs. Felts, Mrs. Roggie, Mr. Dockery; Georgie Tyler—Ms. Tina Shaul.  Please enjoy a video of the race by clicking on the link below.