As many of you already know, local cyclist Mark Savery recently won the cyclocross Masters 40-44 World Championship title in Louisville, KY. In doing so, he's earned what many covet and very few receive: the World Champion's rainbow-striped jersey.
About the closest thing I have in comparison is a trophy I won in 1977 for the Most Improved 12 and Under Swimmer. I was seven years old when I received that distinguishing honor. That was thirty six years ago, but seemingly as fresh as if it happened last week.
I remember it so vividly because I couldn't believe that I actually won it.
It's not that I didn't work for it. I attended two-a-day practices that summer. I did 20 push ups after each practice. That's 40/day for those keeping score. Not bad for a seven year old. And then there was the time that our team showed poor sportsmanship during a swimming meet, and Coach Jim Wheeler disciplined us the next day with butterfly. An entire practice of it. Actually two entire practices of it. I attended the morning and evening practice that day. That's a lot of butterfly.
By summer's end, my puny seven year old body still looked puny, but it was strong. The stop watch proved it: my swimming times dropped in huge chunks from the previous summer. But I thought nothing of it then. I was just doing what I thought every other kid who was serious about their swimming career did to hone their skill. I worked it.
At the awards celebration, our coach highlighted a few accolades of the 12 and U Swimmer of the Year. Among others, the list included:
- Swimmer who attended the most practices
- Most push ups: >1600
- Attended both butterfly-only practices
- Biggest personal record time drop from previous year.
I was clueless about who he was talking about. Truly. Hey, I was seven and naive. As I followed along, I can remember thinking that I did two-a-day practices, that I did a lot of push ups and I even went to both butterfly-only practices. I reasoned since I was there for every practice, I only needed to scan my memory and pick out who did all of those things. It must had been one of the fastest swimmers, Stevie Robbins, or Pat O'Brien. And since Pat had undergone puberty hard the previous winter, and could grow a full beard at age 12, he was most likely it. At any rate, I was no match for those giants.
So when coach Wheeler peeled back the electrical tape covering the engraved name plate, and proudly revealed to all in attendance that that year's Most Improved 12 and Under was seven year old Brady Murphy, I was like whha wh wha what????
To my left, friends Jeff Griege and Tim O'Brien were leaning forward, already grinning back at me. To my right, Tom Chiapelas and Mike Cicci were nodding and slapping me on the back in congratulations. I was stunned. Just stunned. How could it be? I'm wasn't the fastest, I didn't have a beard, heck I wasn't even aware that the coach knew my name. But there I was, the improbable kid from lane one who busted his tail all summer long, hoisting up a sparkling trophy with my name engraved on it.
|Most Improved 12 & Under Brady Murphy celebrating with Tom Chiapelas and Tim O'Brien|
If that's even remotely how Mark Savery feels about winning a world championship, I can kinda, sorta relate. Geez, I hope it's not offensive to him that I'm comparing winning the Most Improved 12 and Under Summer leaguer to a Masters World Championship, but that's all I've got, and I'm going with it.
Anyway, it's late, the 5AM deadline looms. Congratulations Mark Savery.
Happy Friday everyone.