WOSTER: Taking it all in stride, with a smileI remember a track meet a couple of years ago — in Miller, I think it was — when I discovered that one of the Chamberlain High coaches felt almost the same way about my granddaughter Frankie as I do.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
I remember a track meet a couple of years ago — in Miller, I think it was — when I discovered that one of the Chamberlain High coaches felt almost the same way about my granddaughter Frankie as I do.
We were leaning against the fence at the top of the home straight, enjoying the warm sun and talking about the old days of track and field. Frankie was on the grass in the middle of the infield, beginning to stretch and limber up for the 300-meter hurdles a bit later on the schedule. For some reason, the coach and I both stopped talking for a moment and just watched the dark-haired 15-year-old with the long ponytail.
After a few seconds, the coach cleared his throat and said, “That kid will never know how hard I pull for her every single time she goes out to compete.”
He didn’t say any more, but I knew exactly what he meant. I didn’t say anything for a moment, either. I was fighting back tears.
Frankie has done some pretty amazing things in her young life. She competed in cross country, basketball and track, earned great academic marks, ran on a state championship cross country team and qualified for state meet in the 300 hurdles one year.
She has also lived for as long as she can remember with type-one diabetes. So far, there’s no cure, so she pays some attention to diet, checks her blood regularly and relies on insulin to help keep the diabetes under control.
Sometimes, her blood readings go out of whack in spite of her best efforts. She had to scratch from several cross-country meets last fall because of it. That’s one reason her coach pulled so hard for her, and one reason I got tears in my eyes when I realized he watched her as closely as I do and cared about her as much as I do.
Another reason, I’m sure, is that, no matter how things are going, Frankie wears the warmest, most open smile imaginable. When she competes, she leads by example, working harder than anyone else on the team. When she had to scratch those times, she still led, cheering for the other girls, running a camera, relaying instructions from the coach to the athletes, being a teammate and team leader.
Frankie received her high-school diploma last weekend from CHS. She smiled non-stop, from early morning to late evening during the crush of graduation events. Every time I looked, she was smiling, a young woman ready for the next step in her journey through life.
I imagine every grandparent gets all mushy when a granddaughter or grandson graduates from high school. There’s good reason for that. Most teenagers are good kids, witty and caring and committed to making the world a little better. A few who misbehave create a lot of negative headlines, but the vast majority of young people make their families and friends proud, give old grandpas like me a strong confidence that whatever paths they choose, those paths will be the right one for those kids.
I have that strong confidence about Frankie. From the time she was quite young, she has looked outward, concerned how things were with the folks around her. She was captain of several of her athletic teams at CHS. I found that a tribute to her leadership. As impressive to me were the several plaques displayed at her open house that lauded her dedication and inspiration on various teams.
In a family ceremony last weekend, Frankie received a star quilt. It brought to mind a moment at a state cross country meet several years ago. After the race, she and I hugged. It was cold that day. I wore a parka. Frankie wore sweats and wrapped herself in a Denver Broncos blanket. A photo of that moment shows Frankie peeking out from the blanket, smiling happily in spite of the biting wind and her fatigue.
She gave me a copy of that photo the next Christmas. I cherish it, and I cherish the sweet granddaughter who is about to go into the world and do amazing things.