I think proud is a better description. Just a feeling of pride washes over you for someone. Like you are just so proud of someone for what they were able to do. I wish I could feel it more often. Following along while Daniel skated trials gave me that feeling again. To be a first year junior and make the team basically off of just the four distance races is rare feat. Most people that make it right away are overall good skaters, skaters that get some points in all distances but aren't necessarily exceptional at any at that age. That wasn't Daniel. What he lacked in short twitch muscles he more then made up for with endurance and a fearlessness of getting tired.
Once upon a time we considered transferring to junior world class and making the junior world team a 3 part process:
First: you had to get strong enough, fast enough just to keep up.
Second: you had to learn how to race, make your mistakes and learn from them.
Third: Put it all together and see the finished product.
With the top 8 point format that isn't necessarily the case anymore but it doesn't make it any less impressive. Watching the updates of the do-or-die points race was quite exciting for me. To see someone in any division get points on 18 of the last 19 laps (25 lap race) is incredibly rare. To follow along while he managed to be the only other jr man to win a race besides the incredibly impressive Tanner Worley made me pretty proud.
I guess having practiced with Daniel since he was just a little kid plays a pretty big part. The other part is just how raw he is. So much still to learn about racing. So much to improve upon technically as a skater and yet it didn't matter. That's impressive to me. Plus he is the complete opposite of me as a skater around that age. I didn't finish a long race until I was 17 I think. Didn't earn a distance medal until 18. I've always had a certain appreciation for distance skaters, so much of each race is about fighting through being tired and willing yourself on, realizing everyone is tired and someone still has to win. For me, around 17 that's when i figured out that at the end of races everyone was tired. Once I realized everyone gets tired I could convince myself that my tired was better then theirs.
Next I realized over the course of the week that my heart is still and always will be with my wheels. I truly believe I'll be back on my wheels at a trials again, I just can't put a date on it. I love the sport that molded me as a person and created every opportunity I have today. That and I still know I had to leave before I was ready so I still have some unfinished business.
I was proud of the little ole' rink we skated at in Shillington. With our piss poor concrete floor that no one ever shied away from telling us no one could win practicing on. Everyone shows up and works hard and when you don't, you knew about it without being told. I hated when people would come to practice and not work hard. I always tried to work hard even on my worse days because I never wanted anyone younger or slower then me to think taking a day off was okay. There are always practices where the whole team is generally sluggish. I'm sure every team has them, sometimes it's the weather or the time of day or whatever but they happen. Whenever I felt those days and felt that way myself I would try as hard as possible for two reasons:
1. I didn't want to set a bad example
2. I knew if I blew up trying too hard no one was going to beat me feeling sluggish.
Lastly, I was proud of my coach, Jeff. For everything I guess. I never took for granted how much he sacrificed to work with me day in and day out. To do whatever it took, I always understood how much extra time must have been spent just thinking about all the questions and ideas and comments I always had. The best part is that he always demanded more of me as a person then a skater, and that made me the skater I became. I still remember some days it would just be Jeff, Kevin, and I on a late Wednesday night skating, and skating hard. I always wondered if those were the easy days to coach or the hard ones, just two skaters.
When I first started skating for Jeff I was 9 and just a little kid. We had a huge team(and then we lost our nice wood floor and our team moved on from the sport for the most part. Ever since our team at our rink has been pretty small, but pretty successful.) and sometimes Jeff would address the team even if it was directed at a few skaters. I remember when I was probably 10 he gave us a speech about working hard. That we got what we put in. That if we gave him everything we had he would make sure we reached our goals. That hit home for me at just ten years old. I thought if I just try really hard Jeff can make me win. And it still works.
Before me there was always success at our club. One of the most iconic inliners, Steve Carter, came before me and he was exactly who i wanted to be. As a kid I was so naive I didn't know where or how people even made a world team. Steve would call and tell Jeff he made it again and Jeff would tell us and I would sit there in awe, "Steve's so good he made a world team."
After Steve I was the next one to make a world team, after me there was Sam and Kim. Then my brother, and now Daniel. Seven straight years of someone from one rink making a world team without it being the same person is no small feat. The only thing we all share is the man coaching us.
And lastly (really this time) there is Kelly Archie. Our other coach and the only other coach our rink has had since before I was there. You always new how to make everyone work hard when Jeff wasn't there, and how to keep everyone trying when they wanted to quit. You always put the skaters way above your own skating and that's a sacrifice a lot of people can't make. You don't get the limelight or the recognition but your contribution to the success of our teams over the years was always felt.