Monday, August 6, 2012

"Always Finish Strong."
Former Track Coach Pete Ramsey, Conestoga High School in PA

9:45 AM EDT 8/6 (Forecaster Foot) Celebrating with Michael ...and for all those who seek passion and purpose in their life race.

"Always finish strong." That's just what our Olympians are reminding us to do. We celebrate with Maryland Olympian athletes Michael Phelps and Suzanne Stettinius of Baltimore County, and Katie Ledecky of Bethesda in Montgomery County.  Their success does not come without support. We all feel the energy with them of being surrounded by the cast of a dedicated and passionate team of fellow US Olympians, their parents, coaches and citizens, at London 2012. I hope it helps you feel stronger today.

Finishing strong is also a philosophy I learned from my longtime high school track and cross country coach at Conestoga High School in Chester County, PA. In the pre-social media days, when we could exist without every move being watched, photographed and Facebooked, It did not matter we were not county champions or did not always sent a busload of qualifiers to regionals. What mattered is that we started well, and finished strong. As fellow runners can attest with me, the middle of a race did not always feel strong. But our starts were always sharp, and when approaching the finish line - as  a runner representing the team and the school, it was our responsibility to finish strong across that line. Your pack in the pack was less important than running as if you were winning.

WHAT'S POSSIBLE. In this article by the Baltimore Sun, Consider what Missy Franklin said about Phelps following her event. The 17-year old swimmer extraordinare, who in Friday's 200-meter backstroke, nearly broke a world record herself. But then with a winning attitude of teamwork, she chose to not focus on herself, but instead noted this about Phelps: 
“What he’s done is incredible, and it’s helped people re-think the impossible, and re-think what they can do and how they can push themselves,” Franklin said. “To see how he handles everything with such calmness, I think that’s what really opened my eyes a little bit.” 
FASTER, HIGHER, STRONGER. The youth on our team hope that all of you feel the energy and inspiration to improve and strive higher, no matter your walk (or race) of life. While not all of us can be Olympians, our team believes that all of central Maryland and around the world, can make a positive difference by setting the example for others - simply by having passion with a purpose. Run like you want to win.

As a former Baltimore County educator myself, I can say Michael is a prime example of the untapped student lurking in all of our classrooms and communities. They are the ones sitting in the back of the room, or working behind the counter, keeping to themselves, not seeking attention. But their quiet demeanor belies incredible energy, talent and passion. They all want to be noticed, because they want to show US they can contribute. Michael made swimming his purpose, and inspired a generation of swimmers. I hope you'll give the students in your path a chance to show their passion.

WHAT IT MEANS TO ME. When I look at the picture of Michael, it make me feel as though he might say something not much different than what John F. Kennedy said in the 1961 inaugural address. Might it be akin to  "I'm proud to say I did this for my country, and we all can do something if we just work at it together."

The U.S. Team of Foot's Forecast salutes with pride the example set by all our devoted athletes, their parents and families. They truly are, E Pluribus Unum. We thank Micheal for reminding us all what it means to finish strong.

Now it's your turn to extend his legacy. I ask you to tell us what inspiration you have during this Olympics? Will you step it up this year in your family responsibilities, academic goals or athletic performance? Or maybe it's just time to start following your your passion? After all, everybody has one...

Image credit: Fusion Photographer Emily Rund
Carroll County, Maryland

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