Since I wrote about the Kentucky Derby in my last post, the upstart “I’ll Have Another” has taken the horse racing world by storm, looking for one more victory at the Belmont Stakes to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Sportuality: Finding Joy in the Games defines the word victory as “to emerge” and “perseverance.” When we think about victories, whether they be as famed as winning the Triple Crown or as silent as finishing a simple workout, the spirit is ever within, helping us to finish.

Case in point, I had the opportunity to volunteer with my Kalamazoo College volleyball team to organize and to orchestrate a water station for the Kalamazoo/Southwest Michigan Komen Race for the Cure last weekend. It was hot weather for mid May in Michigan; my car thermometer read 92 degrees. We knew that those running would need water and thought of our job as pretty important as we diligently filled over 3,000 cups of water in anticipation of the masses of runners and walkers for the 5K. “Only around 3 miles,” I thought, “they should be fine.” The seasoned runners came first, and sped past our station on their mission for a personal best. Other runners came next, who still looked strong, and who were in fine shape to finish the race. The casual joggers followed, and then the run/walkers…the social groups…the families with strollers and kids in tow. While the physical spirit was alive and well in those at the front of the pack – the pacesetters – the desire and the spirit of victory was also alive and well all the way through over two-thousand participants. All the way through the families, through those who wore braces on knees, or those with visible disabilities, to those sporting their baldness as a badge of honor. ALL were united in purpose … ALL were united in spirit. Their shirts proclaimed “I heart my rack” or “Towanda” to make light (see the Sportuality chapter on Humor) of the fight of a lifetime for loved ones. All glowed with the purpose of finishing. Ultimately, it was I and my team who left, inspired and grateful. My mantra to the team during the volleyball season is “finish strong.” All I could say to these brave participants as they moved through and past our brief encounter at the water station was “FINISH STRONG.”

Just like I’ll Have Another did in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, these runners finished strong. They persevered. They emerged. I felt the exact same inspiration … the same lightness of heart … the same intense emotion … watching the participants running and walking for a cure for breast cancer, as I did watching the finish of two of the greatest horse races in history. The lesson? Suit up, show up, and FINISH. STRONG. It’s the Sportual thing to do.

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