Remarks by Jennifer Vessa
Cross Country Team Member
Memorial Garden Dedication
Sept. 13, 2002

Coach Sanchez suggested that either Joel or myself should talk about what the future holds for us as individuals and as a team. Before being able to say anything about the future, I have to look back on what I have learned in the past year.
Because we are here on behalf of the cross country team, I am going to slightly change a quote from Deborah Miller Palmore, an Olympian basketball player, so that it pertains to running and not basketball:

“The friendships that develop when playing team sports often last a lifetime and are one of sports’ greatest legacies. Even when you’ve run the race of your life, it’s the feeling of teamwork that you’ll remember. You’ll never forget your teammates.”

Everyday, by habit, I still look for those 8 boys (Kyle, Kevin, Shane, Nick, Justin, Morgan, Cody, and Josh) to show up to ' practice, I imagine that I see them on campus, or I hear one of their voices and turn ... disappointed to find the true source wasn't who I was hoping for. Each one of those boys had such a distinctive personality that everything felt empty without them around. The field house and the training room felt empty. Kevin wasn't around to laugh at his own jokes or Cody to dance to his own internal rhythm (which, by the way, was always offbeat). Ed Temple a 3-time Olympian and coach for track and field stated that “The road to success is always under construction. You'll encounter potholes, detours and delays. But you must keep moving forward.”

You see Nobody likes watching cross country (It's not the most spectator-friendly sport. You almost have to be in shape to watch us run ),so all in all we are used to having nobody watch. Shakespeare stated “Bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible.” Many would have found the ability to move forward, pass the potholes and fences to be impossible, but I know as cross country runners when there is a fence in the way we jump it or construction on the road we run through it. Why? “Because the vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion when no one else is watching” - Ralph Waldo Emerson. As a team we just keep on moving forward one foot in front of the other because it doesn't matter if nobody else see us we do it for ourselves with the help of our teammates.

Sue Mitchell states:
“There are times in every life when we feel hurt or alone... But I believe that these times when we feel lost and all around us seems to be falling apart are really bridges of growth. We struggle and try to recapture the security of what was, but almost in spite of ourselves ... we emerge on the other side with a new understanding, a new awareness, a new strength. It is almost as though we must go through the pain and the struggle in order to grow and reach new heights.
I know that I have grown immensely and so has the team. We still have a lot of growing to do but each day is another opportunity for growth. “You see, there is more than anger, there is more than sadness, more than terror. There is hope.” (Laura Davis and Ellen Bass) “Hope is not the dosing of your eyes to the difficulty, the risk, or the failure. It is a trust that if I fail now I shall not fail forever; and if I am hurt, I shall be healed. It is a trust that life is good, love is powerful, and the future is full of promise.” (Anonymous)

I am hopeful that each day will bring us one more smile and one step closer to the time where all we will remember are the good times and none of the pain. For most of us that day is not today but there is still hope. Morgan once told Stephanie what it was like after one of our teammates from Gillette, Wayne Chaney died of cancer. She asked him if he thought about Wayne a lot. Morgan told her that there wasn't a day that went by that he didn't think about Wayne but you have to just keep on moving forward. This holds true for us. There won’t be a day that I won’t think of the, but we have to continue to live each day for the present and the future and not for the past.

One thing Chris Jons wanted me to point out is that the number 8 turned sideways represents the mathematical symbol for infinity. Infinity is defined as unlimited extent of time, space, or quantity; eternity; boundlessness; or immensity. Even though we do not have the 8 in body we do have infinity. We have an infinite amount of hope, support and love for one another and together we can keep moving forward.

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