Where Past and Future Meet

Isabel ZhangSeptember 25, 2023Now and Then

For a grassroots-level sporting community, such as the Little Athletics club I help coach, it is important to value both the past and the future. From a purely objective perspective, grassroots-level sporting clubs heavily value the future, identifying and nurturing talents with the help of parents and coaches like myself, with the hope that one day, the athlete may compete at higher levels of competition. Every child who walks through the doors of the club carries with them a spark of potential, a glimmer of what could be. They walk out with a love for the sport and an active lifestyle, and possibly even an expansion into more senior athletic pathways and beyond. To not just shape the future; we touch lives in ways that will have a lasting impact. More important than athletic performance are the memories we make, and the bonds we see being forged within the community as a result of our love for our sport. Many of my closest friends are ones I have met within the sport, as well as close bonds shared with younger athletes and parents that I would never have had otherwise. To be able to foster the love for sport and help raise dozens of outstanding members of our wider community is truly a reason to value the future.

The past is used as a tool for motivation, as well as a source of knowledge. Turning 16 this year, I have recently aged out of the Little Athletics system. So to the starry-eyed kids that call me and my friends “coach,” our bashful recountings of our experiences at State Championships give them a mark to aim for, living their future throughout competition at a higher level. The memories of our time at the club linger as we draw upon our past experiences. Advice to keep your receiving arm up during a relay, recalling a painful baton-dropping incident as an Under-12 athlete striving for States only four years ago. Reminding young athletes to warm up properly, still feeling the sting of past injuries that caused us to miss competitions. Purchasing hair ribbons in club colors for relay teams at Regional Relays, reminiscing about our own envy toward other teams’ coordinated ribbons. Little details that adults who had not been involved within the community as an athlete may miss, we are able to pass on to the next generation of aspiring athletes. In this respect, the past is important and valued within the community.

At some point, the past and the future converge. The coaching team, the people of the past, can reminisce about when they were the junior athletes, regarded as the future, and the “future” can look to the “past” and see them as their “future.” The point at which this happens is the present. It is in the present moment where people of the “past” and “future” can work together to build strong, supportive Hot Wheels tracks leading toward Great Places. And to quote Dr. Suess from his book Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way!”

Isabel Zhang is 15 years old and lives in Melbourne, Australia. She loves to write about topics she holds close to her heart, such as her involvement in her sport and her local community, as well as a diverse range of social issues that pique her interest.