It’s September now, the weather is changing here in upstate NY. The temperature goes from crazy hot to cold enough to snow on any given day. The rain comes in in droves and leaves just as quickly leaving devastation in its wake it seems. There is snow on the horizon I can smell it on the morning air in the darkness when I wake to run. Well before the CA opens I am alone with my thoughts, generally empty as I prepare for the Ultra. It’s the peace I need in preparation for the day as shortly after my last step I get to face the always growing and developing L.
By the end of Lauren’s warm up I know what it is going to happen that day. I drink deeply of my morning coffee. Enjoying the oily, acidity of its blackness. Tasting the richness of it. It’s complexity, breathing in its heat. Feeling it roll down the back of my throat to fill my belly. It’s simplicity, in that fact is all encompassing. I square my head with what needs to be done that day. Another check mark in the logbook to help Lauren become the Lauren Salter I see. When I look at her is that of a future world champion, Olympian, star of the national team and combine perfect scorer. In my world that journey started 4 months ago.
Lauren recently wrote an article on her blog about her heroes. The USA soccer: women’s national team and how it shaped her. It made me think about my heroes; they were not entire teams; they were individuals looking to be the best at whatever they did. Not all of mine are athletes, but all learned to steel themselves against the naysayers, the haters, the jealous, the misunderstanding. They smashed themselves on the jagged rocks that are greatness. Did they shatter? Yes. Did they get back up and go back to work? Yes. Did they succeed? Yes. Greatness comes from the fire within. The impenetrable, self-confidence in your ability to be all that you can be. Nothing fancy, just knowing in your heart you belong there just as much as anybody else.
Interestingly enough Laurens sport is purely individual. The long runs, individual training sessions, remorseless driving that I put her through has changed her. Lauren is strong, fast, and mentally conditioned. She has struggled this summer occasionally at my hand, (well more than occasionally). She asks a lot of questions and I have a lot of answers. Her concepts of fitness have been destroyed and rebuilt. Her emotional breakdowns happen. She has learned how to keep moving forward, instead of running away to hide. She asks for help and she fears little these days. Other than her last big hurdle, her fear of accepting her own greatness. She can finally start to face that fear, as she will be deep into her US Skeleton Combine test when this posts. The combine will be the beginning of a long week of inter-team competition at the US Push Championships, in Lake Placid.
I don’t know where I will be. I might be in the CA doing what I do, possibly in her corner in Lake Placid helping her fight off her inner demons, maybe preparing myself for the Ultra, I am not sure. I asked her last week if she wanted me to come up to Lake Placid. She looked confused, like no one had ever asked her that. The decision is hers ultimately. All I know is this the happy go lucky, smiling brightly, excited young woman who walked into my facility back in February of this year is no longer that girl. She is a strong mostly fearless woman. Her weaknesses have been explored in depth. She has survived. She has an amazing support system, and is one step closer to getting that coveted place on the podium with people cheering for her.
Lauren is complex and everyone that meets her or trains with her knows this. She empowers the CA juniors with her excitement and physical prowess. Her peers look to her for strength and cheerleader like encouragement. In her time here she has become an embodiment of what this facility is. Who the athletes are that train here and why they are here. In her own way Team CA is her team. She is one of the captains of it and for as long as she chooses for it to be. Her strive for excellence, relentless self-motivation, and the willingness to keep walking through the door to this school for ninjas solidifies this for me everyday.
Her own team, team Salter.