This weekend I traveled down to South Florida to cover and highlight athletes competing at the Louie Bing Memorial Classic.
My track and field journey began in South Florida in 2010 for Westminster Academy, so traveling back down was a special treat to see many coaches that played a pivotal role in my life growing up.
As I headed down to the timing tent, I saw Sam Burley -- back when I was a tiny middle schooler at WA Burley would officiate many of the meets I participated in.
That was nearly a decade ago.
"He wouldn't remember me," I thought. I was wrong.
"Wait a second, I know you. You were that little girl running with the big girls at Westminster Academy years ago," he said.
Then, Coach Larry Wooten was awarded at Louie Bing for his service to the South Florida community as a coach and timer, and these encounters made me reflect on just how important officials and timers are to our sport.
So, Florida track and field officials, timers, and meet directors -- thank you.
Thank you for your dedication, tireless enthusiasm for this sport, and for your selfless service to growing our sport and the young athletes that participate in it.
Without you, I'm not sure where Florida track and field athletes would be. I know I can speak for many in Florida when I say that you play a pivotal role in all of our lives, one so monumental that I am continually grateful for.
This sport is special because it creates community. It makes you earn respect, and through this, it teaches you what life is truly about -- relationships, hard work, and persistence.
You all exemplify this through your work for this sport, day in and day out.
From making sure meets run as smooth as possible, ensuring athletes know ALL the rules prior to their events, providing accurate times and marks so that athletes have data that they can not only look back on, but use this information to compete at the next level, to showing up to a 12 hour meet week after week, after working all week making sure everything is in place so that athletes can have a steady competition day, to everything else that seems to go unnoticed in your pursuit towards expanding our sport -- I cannot say thank you enough.
As now an editor for a track and field news network and database, I am encouraged by the way you are willing to work with a network like this one to push for growth in this great sport.
I've come full-circle and to now try and fathom how many hours and relationships you have built over the years into Florida track and field -- I'm even more appreciative for those long weekends competing years ago.
As officials, timers, and meet directors, many of you are former athletes and coaches -- to say your time in this sport and dedication is unmeasurable is an understatement.
So, thank you for the countless hours committed to growing this sport and leading athletes in ways you may have not thought were attributed to your influence.
A Former Florida High School Athlete