Reconstructing Charlie

Gone before sleeping beauty opened her eyes, I waited in the gym with Coach Riley and watched a group of young women straggle in at 7 am. “Step lively,” Coach called and blew the whistle hanging around her neck for the first time, a sound we learned to respond to like Pavlov’s dog. The sound reverberated around the cavernous gym. How a small silver whistle commanded attention remained a mystery to me. A woman of average stature, maybe ten years older, and Coach Lynne Riley held us in the palm d hearbof her hand. My role model. From then on, whenever I’d hear a whistle blow, my feet itched to run. We, referring to the team, had a nice ring to it. Me the loner no more. And we all resembled each other, in lean shape, pony tail hair-do, intense and later, when we suited up in the purple uniforms, we were something to watch. As a freshman, I didn’t expect to win in competition. Everyone else had experience in major events, travel to other colleges, coverage by television. Scary stiff. I just ran fast. At first, my confidence level dropped and Coach took me aside. “Charlie, I saw you run and new you were right for our team. What’s the problem? A guy thing or do you have your period? I toed the ground, raised dust and looked ashamed. “Talk to me.” “I don’t have experience like the other girls. All those people yelling, the crowds.” “She handed over a bottle of water and said:Sit down. I think I know what the problem is. We drank. “You have stage fright .” Nodding to herself, she continued. An actor learns her lines yet when the curtain , she forgets or is too nervous to get them straight. So here’s what we’re going to do.” My story head drooped.’ “Look at me when I’m talking to you. I want to see the fire you ran with we met. We’re going to have a cross county meet at Purdue soon and I expect great results from you. More later, my friends.

14 thoughts on “Reconstructing Charlie

  1. The stage fright thing makes sense. I like this coach. It’s funny, my snippet this week features a whistle, too! Great minds, my friend. 🙂

  2. I’m not surprised athletes get stage fright. Anytime one has to perform, whether on an actual stage or on a racetrack, it has to be daunting. Hope she can get past it.

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