No matter how fast we run
How far we throw
or how high we fly
the earth will claim our mortal forms
and we will wait
like ordinary men and women
for our spiritual transformation
But until that day
We are free to set the pace
raise the bar
and claim the glory that is ours
because we are athletes
Some believe sports to be a metaphor for life. Others believe sports to be life itself. Like most of us, Steven James Lewis, British Pole Vault Champion and two time Olympian, would fall somewhere in between these parameters. Steve and his bid for a third Olympic experience is the inspiration for this blog series.
I’m a sophomore in high school. Our town, once a thriving coal mining community, is now hustling to bring in new industry and foster new dreams of solidarity and progress. My high school champions academic relevancy but lags somewhat behind in fostering respect for diversity. The name of our sports teams will become a serious sore point for many Native Americans.
Also in 1958
Elvis Aaron Presley, the King of Rock & Roll, has surpassed Francis Albert Sinatra, King of the Bobbysoxers, as pop artist of the half century. Over in Rome, Italy they’re gearing up for the 1960 Summer Olympic games. Down at Tennessee State University, Wilma Goldean Rudolf is training to storm those Olympics much like her hero Jesse Owens did in Berlin back in 1936.
Here at home the Reverend Bob Richards, two time Olympic Pole Vault Champion, just sailed over a cross bar dangling from a cloud. His way of warming up for his upcoming motivational speech to our student body. The speech will get mixed reviews, but we all sit through it because, hey, the man was featured on the Wheaties Box. You don’t get much bigger than that. Or do you?
Steve doin work
Elvis, Wilma and Rev Bob will each find their way into our adolescent psyches. Take me for example. I’m planning to be a Rock & Roll star like Elvis. I got the hair and the moves down already. And I’m going to marry Wilma, even though I’ll have to wait two years to see her run.
Wilma will come along just in time for me to recover from my crush on Constance Delaney, arguably the prettiest girl in our school. But to me, pretty is as pretty does and the thing that Constance does is glide like a gazelle around the playing fields during gym class. Sadly, before I work up the nerve to talk to Constance, we will graduate high school and I’ll never see her again.
Fortunately I will be two years older and out of high school when I see Wilma run for the first time. Who knows, I might be a rock star by then and actually have the courage to talk to her.
But my dreams are not limited to music and leggy females. I’m also working on becoming a track & field star in my own right. I made the varsity team as a freshman middle distance runner, even anchored a couple of winning relay teams. So if the Rock Star thing doesn’t work out, I can always shoot for the Olympics. Wilma can coach me if she wants to.
Elvis has long ago left the building. British born Adele Laurie Blue Adkins is the most successful Pop Artist in the history of the planet. Garry Lee Cox is joyously singing in the Unity of Phoenix church choir. Garry never met Wilma Rudolph, but still occasionally googles up her 1960 runs for glory. He also watches, in his mind’s eye, his graceful classmate Constance Delaney flowing in the grace of her youth.
But before that there was The Dave and Garry Show
Often asked Dave and Garry Question: How come you guys still run at your age?
Often given Dave and Garry Response: We suck at golf.
The National (Senior Olympics) Games are being held in Tucson, Arizona. Here in Phoenix, guys and gals 50 years old and up (we’re talking way up) will participate in our version of the Olympic Torch Relay. The torch will pas through Phoenix, then down to Tucson. Dave Doerrer and I have met briefly while being assigned our legs on the Relay. Dave is supposed to pass the Torch to me.
Dave: Hey, would you mind if we switched places. I’d like to pass the torch to my friend, Bud. He’s an older guy I know and he’d get a kick out of it.
Garry: Don’t differ me none.
The die is cast. Dave and I will become friends and get after it hammer-and-tong for the next fifteen years, mainly in the 400 meters. We will outlast most of our staunch competitors to the point that we were both semi-retired from the sport in 2011, the year my wife, Bernice, passed. But by then hooking up for track workouts will be ensconced in our DNA.
What’s in a name? A rose
by any other name would smell as sweet.
What good is a name if you can’t drop it to your advantage?
Garry: Dang, I still haven’t caught up with Steve for the big interview. I sent him the questions a month ago. And if I don’t get a post in soon, I’m toast. No Steve, no story.
Dave: (always the pragmatist) Well, he does have a few things going on. Training. Traveling to meets. Working on getting the Olympic qualifier. Opening a new business. He just got married in the last year or so. Didn’t he tell us something about having his 29 week baby scan with his wife.
Garry: So what’s your point?
Dave: Maybe you should focus on something else for the time being.
Garry: Like what?
Dave: Oh, I dunno. Maybe something like,”Two old guys humbly training with ALTIS and living a dream.”
And there it was, having appeared on the event horizon like an F-1117 Nighthawk. The name that will change the entire landscape of Track & Field the world over–ALTIS
Coming nest in Living a Dream:
- An Evening with Steve, Dave and Garry
- Progress report on Steve’s training for Rio