Tetris, Track, & Spirit | Teen Ink

Tetris, Track, & Spirit

March 14, 2008
By Anonymous

Cascading ever more quickly, blocks come crashing down in an avalanche of colors and shapes. As the blocks pile up, my palms sweat and my pulse races; though I am desperate and frantic, I must not make mistakes. I deftly manipulate the falling blocks, forming a solid, multi-colored wall. Suddenly the wall disappears and the level is cleared. I have set a new high score of 10527 in Tetris. I proudly enter my initials above those of my friend Yui, who is now relegated to second place. Though Tetris may be just a silly game, such competition has motivated me to transcend my limitations and reach new heights of achievement.

In the spring of my sophomore year at Lee Academy, my friend and Tetris foe Yui asked me to join the track and field team. I quickly agreed; running track would help me stay in shape and make new friends. But I had another motivation: my friend Yui was a gifted runner and the idea of competing with her enticed me. As I practiced, I was sometimes intimidated by Yui and the other experienced runners, but the competition motivated me to reach their level. I came closer to that goal every day, and Yui and I became closer as friends. At the end of the year, however, I switched to Culver Academies in Indiana while Yui returned to her home in Japan. Even though I had been one of the better runners on my old team, I faced new challenges because Culver’s track team was much larger and more competitive.

I showed my improved speed at last year’s sectional championships. I was assigned to the 4x100 relay team and was to run the crucial anchor leg of the race. Before the race, I marked the starting line with chalk, feeling sweat on my palm. The lead-off runners dashed from the starting line. I awaited the handoff of the baton, my heartbeat pounding. The third runner approached. As she neared, I accelerated. I grabbed the baton when she shouted Stick!

As I ran, my jersey flapped against the wind, the finish line bobbed in the distance, the cheers of the crowd echoed. Crossing the finish line, I realized I’d both won the race and set a new PR. I received compliments from other runners and coaches, and my team was awarded the coveted blue ribbons. Reading the words “First Place” in gold lettering, I felt a surge of adrenaline, a feeling of triumph that overwhelmed me.

My victory, however, has not been confined to that one afternoon on the track. Not only has running track taught me how to be a better athlete, it has also made me a better student and person. When I have assignments that seem impossible, I no longer get discouraged. Instead I now focus on the possibility for success, not the probability of failure. I used to think that those who excelled both academically and athletically were merely gifted and that I could never reach their heights. But during that track season, I earned the highest GPA of my high school career at the same time I was setting personal records. I did so not because I was naturally talented but because I refused to give up, because I pushed myself beyond my previous limits. I have harnessed my competitive spirit to achieve success on both the track and in my life as a whole—and my Tetris score stands at 18470.

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