Sunday, July 26, 2009

My Best Friend's Wedding

No distance or cost would have kept me from returning to the States last weekend for my friend, Mark Claar's wedding. We became friends in the 4th grade were close through high school and beyond. Mark was notorious for introducing me to new and dangerous activities, including ice hockey, mountain biking, and repelling from large oak trees. If it had not been for his encouragement, I probably wouldn't have joined the soccer team or run track either.

As it turns out, we made quite the team. In our freshman year, Bad Axe High School fielded its very first soccer team. We finished with a record of 1-10, including one loss to a school for the deaf. In a real Disney-movie-like reversal of fortunes, we finished 15-2 just three years later. Mark and I were the starting defensive full-backs for all four years.

Soccer, however, was really just an off-season training opportunity for Mark. His true love was hockey. He convinced me to join the recently formed local league even though I couldn't even skate. We played in the horse barn at the county fairgrounds. Instead of plexiglass boards and glass barriers, the rink was framed by stiff timber planks and chicken wire. We won the league championship one year on successive sudden-death penalty shots by Mark and myself. I was lucky, he was good.

When a traveling league hockey "career" failed to take off, Mark re-committed himself to track and a lifelong dream to set the school record in the 110 hurdles. By the conclusion of the State Track meet, he held three school records. I was along for the ride in the mile relay. Today, the record stands, and I consider it one of my greatest accomplishments in life. Academics and marching band always came easy to me, but I really had to work hard to succeed in athletics.

I believe that my personal drive to succeed was a product of those teams that Mark and I competed on. He encouraged me to find courage and strength in whatever endeavors we undertook. I may still be a nerd, but at least I can hold my own on the soccer field.

Thank you, Mark for helping me become the person that I am today. Congratulations! I'm sure Nancy will help me return the favor and whip you into shape.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
This work by Ken Maschke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.