The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. These are the events that make up our youth. As a child, my sisters and I glued our little bottoms to our chairs for each Olympics and watched every single cover story. The athletes worked day and night to achieve their goals, many having to overcome huge obstacles to do so. Watching the stories would instill in me a passion for achievement and that sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing you have done your absolute best to reach your goals. As a teenager, working in the Northwest Houston area, I frequently came into contact with families that had relocated from across the country, simply so their child could train under the famous, gymnastics coach, Bela Karolyi. It was extra special to root for an olympic gymnast that attended my church or shopped at my grocery store. But MY GOODNESS! The dedication it took for those families to leave everything behind, sacrifice their own personal gain, and put the entire family’s dreams and goals on hold, for the single purpose of one child. That was astonishing to me, and quite frankly, I found it ridiculous. What about the other children? Did they not have dreams? I often thought that all the money spent on training could have been better spent on needs of the family. But then again, I wasn’t in their shoes.
Children compete constantly: youth sports, music, dance, cheer, gymnastics, etc. They have so many activities and parents spend all their time driving kids to events. When the kids are gone, the thrill is gone, unless you find activities of your own. At our age, there are limited opportunities but not impossible.
From 1995 to the present. I have performed and competed with a barbershop chorus, part of an international organization called Sweet Adelines. For ten of those years, I commuted 2 1/2 hours to rehearsals. The last three months, I have flown to rehearsals, stayed the night in a hotel, arisen at 4:30am and flown home to arrive at work, on time. In 2006, my entire chorus had an adrenaline rush so strong that we spontaneously started jumping up and down, screaming and crying tears of joy as we finished our performance; still onstage. We knew we had delivered the winning performance. Two years ago, we consoled each other as we finished second, and yet, felt genuinely happy for the winners. Today, I’m sitting in Baltimore, Maryland, prepared to compete for the International Championship. Celebrating the thrills of victory and the agonies of defeat with 120 best friends, is priceless.