Over our Thanksgiving trip to South Carolina, Derick and I had the privilege of speaking to a group of 5th graders at Merrywood Elementary in Greenwood, South Caorlina. This is where Derick spent the first 18 years of his life (in Greenwood, not Merrywood…) =) His mom Donna (my mother-in-law) is currently the school guidance counselor there, and she was able to set this up fairly last minute. Unfortunately I didn’t have my bike with me, as that would have surely been a captivating item for show and tell, but I did have my aero helmet and a few photos which we were able to put up on the ‘smart board’ (I guess this is the modern day chalkboard!).
We spoke with 2 classes each with about 30-40 kids in it, each for about 30 minutes. I talked first about what it was like to be a professional triathlete, how I got to where I am and how many years it has taken me to get there. Then Derick spoke on his education and how being a runner helped him get to college, and how his running really pushed him to his graduate degree and also current job of coaching and having his own business.
Amazingly enough the time went very quickly, and we both were able to allow a few questions during each of our talks. I loved the comment when the slideshow started that went something like “Hahaha…she isn’t wearing any pants in that picture!” Some of the Top Questions included:
“Why is the helmet pointy at the end?”
“How many races have you won?”
“Do you have sponsors?”
“Where have you traveled to do races?”
“What do you do each day?”
“Do you run on a track?”
“How fast do you go on your bike?”
“Who’s faster, you or her?” (to Derick)
I have to hand it to these kiddos…they had very good questions! One little guy even knew the exact distances of an Ironman! When I told them that riding 112 miles was like riding your bike to Greenville and back, that got a lot of “ooohhs” and “wows”. They were so attentive, even when we talked about the boring stuff like ‘even when you don’t want to get up and do a workout, you have to, much like how you don’t want to do your homework sometimes… because in the big picture, it is what you have to do to get to where you want to be.’ My favorite part of chatting with them was when they called me “Miss Kelly.” So cute.
I have to say that we both really enjoyed this, and it is something I would love to do more of. If you or someone you know would like to have us speak to your students, please feel free to contact me. It’s something that I have not initiated enough, but especially in the off-season when time is more available, it is an excellent thing to do. These kids were like sponges; and even if this planted a small seed in their head (about dedication, sports/being active, hard work, goal setting, etc) then it was very much time well spent!