View Full Version : GENE ADAMS: Make the best of your second chance

09-23-09, 11:38 AM
GENE ADAMS: Make the best of your second chance


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

SAN ANGELO, Texas — As with any activity done in a repetitive manner, running the KOA can wear on a runner’s body and psyche. Since I’m usually running KOA with adult training groups at midday or early in the evening, it makes for a tough run due to heat and traffic. Luckily, an opportunity to train some athletes arose that allows me to run KOA before sunrise and this change has benefitted my running.

Coming to the end of an early morning eight-mile run recently at the KOA, the sunrise was just peeking through the clouds and the quiet led to a serene moment. Running often bisects spirituality and at that moment I felt a peacefulness encompass me. I began to think about redemption and second chances.

My mind started rewinding through prior incidents in my life where I’ve screwed up or dropped the ball, yet someone always stepped forward to square me up and get my life back on track. This helped me remember an incident that I’d like to share with you. Several years ago, Travis Westbrook, a young runner from Lake View, in a rash moment made a bad decision and his actions changed the course of his life.

Travis was one of the most talented runners to ever run for Nat Sawyer. It tore up former coach Tim Reid and coach Sawyer to dismiss Travis from the team just before district, but they had to send a message that such transgressions must be dealt with. Travis was heartbroken, since he had recently just rounded into shape and was ready to peak at district and regionals, and maybe even represent his school at state. At first, confused, he rebelled. But soon, he began to understand the consequences of his actions.

People began to jump ship and Travis was a lonely ship on a rolling sea. I decided to take a chance on this young man and FIT San Angelo extended a scholarship to Travis even though many thought this was the wrong thing to do and would set a bad precedent for future recipients.

That summer, Travis worked in the FIT San Angelo summer program and his dedication became lore. Not only did he bust his butt every day, he helped every runner that summer improve. He encouraged and supported our youngest runners, helping four-year-olds to run. He would complete a six- to eight-mile and return to help children struggling with obesity to run/walk one or two miles.

The fall came and Travis matriculated to ASU where he also ran for the cross country program. The coaches were thrilled with him becoming a part of their program, though Travis was being pulled in different directions. He had lost a brother, Marine PFC Jason Poindexter on Sept. 12, 2004, in Ramadi, Iraq in combat and he began to feel the need to join the Marines and help defend his country.

To shorten this narrative, Travis enlisted in the Marine Corps in May 2007 and after a few years this young man, who many had given up on, has acquitted himself with distinction. I’m proud of Cpl. Travis Westbrook, who in the summer of 2009 was recognized as the 3rd Marine Division Association’s Marine of the Year. Remember, people deserve second chances! Those miles logged running and the lessons learned as a high school runner helped Travis develop into the outstanding young man he’s become.

As a veteran, I’d just like to add one more thought: the “forever war” we find ourselves involved in today takes a toll not only on our service men and women but also places tremendous strain on families. To Sharon Westbrook, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sacrifices and may God grant your family peace.

Keeping with the Lake View theme, as the 2009 cross country season evolves coach Sawyer finds himself coaching a very talented team. Joe Pena, James Christensen, Daniel Delgado, Israel Guerra, Robert Sanchez, Jairo Cribb and others give the Chiefs their strongest team in years and they can challenge Big Spring for superiority in District 4. The Chiefs ran very well at the recent ASU meet and coach Sawyer must be extremely happy to have so many committed runners in his program.

Sempre Avanti, Always Forward.

Gene D. Adams is founder and president of FIT San Angelo. His column appears every other Wednesday. Contact him at jtcluck21@aol.com.