Last year, a time before Covid, I was on a market trip in the Midwest and I made the below post on my Facebook account:
In 1976, I was contacted by Drake University in Des Moines, IA. A scout had seen me run at a track meet and alerted the team. That season, and the next during my senior year, they followed me and eventually offered a scholarship. In the last few weeks of my senior season, I injured my knee. This was just before arthroscopic was a thing, so getting it fixed would require a surgery I didn’t want to do. The doctor told me I would never run again. When the team found out about my injury, the scholarship was pulled so I never attended. Instead, I commuted to a local university.
Today, I was in Des Moines with time to kill before my flight home to Bozeman so I decided to go take a look at the campus I might have walked so many years ago. I stopped to take a few photos and one was of Cline Hall, the building where I would have likely spent most of the time as I was enrolling in medical technology and pharmacy. Later after looking at the pictures on my laptop, I noticed my reflection in the background and it got me thinking.
At first, I was wondering what my life would have been like if I had attended Drake. Where would I be now? Would I have continued in the medical field? Would I ever have begun a career in education? Then I thought, I would not have gone to St John's University where I met one of my best friends, who introduced me to his sister, who became the love of my life. I may or may not have dropped out of med tech and entered education, but I certainly would not have likely followed the course of life that led me to teach in a public school on Long Island and later at an exclusive private school, where I met so many life-long friends. There, I started a summer program taking my 6th – 8th graders to Yellowstone and other national parks in the American west. Eventually, I ended up living in Bozeman and found my new career as Education and Outreach Specialist at Oboz Footwear.
My life has had many turns, but I'm glad that it turned out the way it has. I have a family that loves and supports me and have had interactions with people that have fulfilled me ways I cannot describe. I had a career in education which afforded me the opportunity to explore the United States. Hiking became a passion and a joy to share with young people. Finding a job at Oboz has allowed me to continue that journey in a different way. I’m lucky to have seen the places that I have, Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Tetons, Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Mt Rainier, Olympic, North Cascades and so many more national parks. I doubt that would have been the case if I had attended Drake.
Today, when I was walking the campus at Drake, I followed the sound of an announcer calling out names over at the stadium. I followed the noise and crowd and when I entered the stadium, the Junior Olympics track meet was in progress. My heart skipped a beat and I felt a tiny bit of sorrow for my lost track career. The sound of the starting gun, the blue smoke, the patter of running feet on a soft track far better than the cinders I used to race on, the occasional grunt of a shot thrower were all so distant in time but so very clear in memory. There was a skinny little kid chasing a larger boy down the track. Couldn't help myself from cheering him on as he came around the last turn to overtake his opponent.