Practice puts a little ‘Spring’ in these young athletes’ steps

Snowbound practices brrrrr-ing out potential future stars

Dickinson High School begin their preparations for the new track and field season with indoor practice.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

These kids have heart, performing in “Spring” practices. Good Lord, it’s brutal up here in March.

Don’t get me wrong, growing up in South Florida is harder than you think; “Life is tuff in the ‘Bu, yo!”

(… sorry … “Malibu’s Most Wanted” reference, couldn’t help myself).

But, holmeslice, it’s WAY tougher here. You still can store meat outside – overnight – here in Spring. Meanwhile, Spring in Florida means robins, and making money mowing grass, flip-flops, and shorts with long-sleeve-T-shirts, and “Robins” in bikinis.

But I digress …


In Southwest North Dakota, the Spring sport season starts indoors. Waaaaay back in my day running track & field, it started in mid-February and we griped about wind-burnt thighs because the temps NOSE-DIVED to 58 degrees. Our lips chapped and our heels cracked from dryness and the athlete's-foot-fungus invaded the 1980s-era locker rooms until you couldn’t take it anymore.

What I wouldn’t have given to start a track season in the gym (or so I thought … for all the wrong reasons, by the way).

Looking back, I had it easy. Because, these young athletes have to work out twice-as-hard in half-the-time, basically. And there’s probably some of these long-distance-runner kids who already are out running the roads because Dickinson just had four-consecutive days in the 30s since Thursday(!)

“See? The snow is melting in the front yard! And after I get done with my run, I’m gonna sunbathe in the new chaise-lounge so I don’t get wet from the snow melting off around the brown shoots of grass!”

Golly, you people are tough.

Listen, when you’re a bone-hard athlete in South Florida on March 6th, and you just got done with your 22nd day of track practice in the 1980s, your biggest fear is your classmates smelling your Mom’s lavender Avon moisturizer on your thighs to keep them from chaffing under your jeans … and them cracking up at your lovely, lavender moisturizer. We Floridians don’t have HALF your heart.

Side-confession: I once wore gloves in March during a race because I was a sprinter and one’s hands move faster when one sprints (cold-friction=hot-friction in reverse). That’s my level of not-knowing-how-tough-it-is.

Up here? C’mon ... I imagine there have been dyed-in-the-wool runners in The Dakotas who got mildly frostbit for the same reasons in temps 40-degrees colder. Honestly … tip-of-the-cap to you, total respect. It might all be relative, but when it’s related to survival and earnest-passion-encourages-extra-effort, I know what it takes to be an athlete here without getting outta the car.


I see it in their rosy cheeks, their indoor wind-sprints, the numbers they arrive in, and the attitude they bring with it. It’s like they don’t even think about it. Most-likely, it’s because they don’t; that’s life and it’s incidental, and that’s just what they do.

These young athletes never saw how “bad” we had it in Florida … and I’m glad they didn’t. Because, on some level it probably makes them tougher and more durable and more willing to overcome.

Now that I think about it? I wish I COULD have started off track & field season in a gym in North Dakota … but for all the RIGHT reasons.

Gaylon is a sportswriter from Jensen Beach, Fla., but has lived all over the world. Growing up with an athletic background gave him a love of sports that led to a journalism career in such places as Enid, Okla., Alamogordo, N.M., Pascagoula, Miss. and Viera, Fla. since 1998. His main passion is small-town community sports, particularly baseball and soccer.
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