NL senior speaks about lessons learned from track

This spring, the New Lebanon Board of Education approved the merger of the track teams as well as JV and Varsity baseball, softball and basketball teams with Berlin High School.

New Lebanon senior Natalie Zema has run track for six years and spoke about her spring sport experience at the athletic banquet on May 29.

Telling everyone my spring sport experience at New Lebanon would be a very long story full of long practices and even longer meets.

I ran track for six years and each year has been completely different from the last. The people are different because some try something new and your role models graduate, but there are always some that come back.  The workouts change but there is always work to put in; the teams grow or shrink but there is always the same connection, and the meets are different, but there is always rain.

Track creates such a unique environment that every day spent training for an event can be a whole new experience the next day. This team and this school teach us to take risks. With small numbers, there’s always a chance to try something you haven’t before. By taking risks in spring sports I’ve competed in almost all track events, trying many of them this year.

Along with track, all spring sports at NL are different; we all have tried something new. Welcoming Berlin into the tiger family was a big step for everyone and I am glad I was a part of it. I experienced first hand the immediate connection of the track team as two schools came together. The friendships we made this year were like no other season. It was like we had been one team for all of these years. I hope seeing NL make this big change will prove to us all the impact sports have on us and the impact of stepping out of your comfort zone. At the start of one of my mile races, coach Jim directed me to go past my comfort zone to pace the run correctly. Although that’s a simple message, I think it sums up track and any sport at NL. Anyone involved in track can agree, succeeding in this sport involves going out of your comfort zone. Without our new teams we would not have learned new ways to do our everyday practice or found different running routes, and we would not have made the friends we cheer on each meet.

Taking risks is one of the most important things about being a teenager, an athlete and a student. Pushing yourself to find your strengths and reach new goals is not only a part of being a teenager but also a part of life. Track has taught me more than I ever could imagine and I know the life lessons I gained from track — to step out of my comfort zone — will continue to motivate me through college and through life.

We have all been stepping up to new challenges in order to support our team to represent ourselves and our school, let’s keep that tradition going.