Jay got home from visiting his grandparents just in time to be part of the annual camp relay race.
Jay was the fastest runner of all the “Can Dos.” Willie, Bobby, and Hector were so glad to see him. Jay was going to be the fourth member of the “Can Do’ Street Community Center relay race team. They really needed Jay if they were going to win the relay race. They were racing against a four-boy team from Buddiville, the next town over from “Can Do”Street.
There was a lot riding on the race.”Can Do” Street teams had won for the past four years and year five meant a cash prize of $500 to support programs at the “Can Do” Street Community Center. Willie, Bobby, Hector and Jay wanted to be able to win the prize for “Can Do” Street and for the Community Center.
Willie, Bobby and Hector met every morning for weeks before the race to practice under the watchful eye of Coach Campbell. Jay ran track each day, on the Indian reservation, while he was visiting his grandparents.
The day of the race was clear and sunny. It was not too warm. It was a good day for a race.
The stands were packed with parents and grandparents and kids from “Can Do” Street and Buddiville there to cheer on their teams.
The four-boy team from Buddiville arrived on time. The two teams met, shook hands and took their places on the track.
Hector was the first to run. He made good time in the first leg of the race. He was ahead of the boy from Buddiville when he reached the spot in the track where Bobby would take over and race the second leg of the race.
Bobby ran as fast as he could, but not fast enough to reach where Willie would take over the third leg of the race. The boy from the Buddiville team running against Bobby was really fast! Wow, could he run! He got to his team member faster than Bobby got to Willie.
When Willie started out on the third leg of the race, the boy from Buddiville was in the lead. Try as he might, he couldn’t catch up with him and then pass him.
When Willie got to Jay, the boy from Buddiville was already way ahead. Jay ran harder and faster than he ever did before, but the boy from Buddiville was also a good runner and had a large lead over Jay to begin with.
The team from Buddiville won. Willie, Bobby, Hector and Jay felt so bad, but they practiced good sportsmanship and shook the hands of the boys from Buddiville and congratulated them on their win.
Coach Campbell followed the “Can Do” team into the locker room and had them sit down on a bench so he could speak with them .
“Did you all try your best, run your hardest, run your fastest?” Coach looked at the boys after asking his questions, waiting for them to answer.The boys all nodded yes. “Than there is nothing more you could have done,” said Coach.
“But we didn’t win,” said Hector. “Sometimes our best isn’t enough,” said Coach. “Sometimes the other team is better that us, faster than us, and they win. Sometimes we are better than the other team and we win. That’s just the way it is.”
“It hurts to lose,” said Bobby. “Yes, it does,” said Coach, “But remember, you are not losers…you lost a race, to a team that could run faster than you, that’s all. You’ve won before and you will win again.”
The boys sat quietly for awhile, letting what Coach said sink in, then they got up and followed the Coach outside to joining their family and friends for a barbeque. To their surprise, the crowd started clapping when they saw them and yelling out, “Good race, good team work, good try.”
Willie, Hector, Bobby and Jay learned something that race day; they learned that winning isn’t always possible, but trying hard, working together and being good sports is what it is all about.