From storytellers to characters: Lariat staffers participate in track invitational

Story by Nathan Keil | Sports Editor, Video by Meredith Aldis | Broadcast Reporter

Saturday was a day for the ages. It was a day where heroes were born; where champions were crowned and the ghosts of failure haunt all the rest.

OK, so not really, but Saturday was certainly different. And different can be a good thing.

As part of the Michael Johnson Invitational, the Baylor Lariat participated in the first ever All-Media 4×100 meter relay race. Our team consisted of myself, Rylee Seavers, a broadcast reporter, Penelope Shirey, design editor, and Rewon Shimray, cartoonist. For once, the shoe was on the other foot. As journalists (many of us either working in sports or with a sports background) spend these types of events capturing moments behind a camera or bringing the stories to life through our carefully scripted words. But not this time, instead of writing the story, we were the story, or a small, minute piece of a much greater story. Either way, the roles were reversed and instead of doing the watching and calculating, we were the ones being watched, being dissected under the microscope.

Many of us participating, myself included, went to our closets, dusted off the old running shoes and spent copious amounts of time stretching and praying that we neither get injured nor make a fool of ourselves, both of which were easier said than done.

And so, after a long day covering a number of other events or recuperating from a long week of work and school, we gathered as one body, the voices and the faces of the media at the Clyde Hart Track & Field Stadium.

We gathered pre-race, sharing smiles and laughs — all the things that mask the raging butterflies jarring for their freedom from the depths of our stomachs. As the race approached, we made our way on the track, sharing the space with those athletes, more talented and skilled than us, but we shared it nonetheless.

We walked to our spots, batons in hand, taking in the sights, the sounds and the experience of this moment. We said our final prayers and took our final stretches before hitting the blocks. As ritual calls for it, the lanes were announced, the participants identified and just like that, the lights were bright and it was showtime.

Just like that, the gun fired and the race was off. Young, old and everywhere in between ran with purpose with conviction, galloping toward that first handoff. In a blink of an eye, my days of mental preparation were over in a matter of 15 seconds as I passed the green baton to my teammate Rylee.

With each exchange, we were reunited in the sport of spectating and cheering for our fellow Lariateers, as well as other colleagues across the Waco area. As the anchor runners crossed the finished line, regardless of time, we were once again filled with the smiles, the laughs, the high-fives and everything else, minus the butterflies.

We gathered a final time by the media tent, still catching our breath, but this time we were honored, signified by the medals representing our second place achievement around our necks. Pictures were taken, interviews were given and then we went on our way, back to our usual everyday existence.

But on this day, for slightly more than a minute’s time, we were not just a community of storytellers, but we were a community of characters in the story, and that is a story worth telling.