We all have our Memorial Day traditions, and all of them are much more important than mine.
For as long as I can remember, which gets further away each year, I’ve spent the weekend ahead of the holiday covering the Missouri State Track and Field Championships. Usually, this means a chance to relax a little on Sunday before work recapping the events on Memorial Day.
This past weekend ended up no exception, although this one might stick out a little more than usual.
A lengthy weather delay interrupted the Classes 3, 4 and 5 meets on Saturday, May 27 in Jefferson City, Mo. Lightning approached the area at about 12:30 p.m., bringing a halt to the proceedings at that point. Heavy rains and wind followed, leading officials to close the stadium for more than five hours.
When action resumed, I followed until the end of the day, watching Platte County junior Rebekah Geddes, Park Hill senior Papay Glaywulu and Park Hill’s 4x400-meter relay team of juniors Taiya Shelby and junior Jena Halbeck, sophomore Manuela Ngo Tonye Nyemeck and freshman Teresa Thomas win state championships. There’s plenty more on their stories in this week’s sports pages — the only ones in the area weekly dedicated to our five high schools in Platte County.
This story isn’t about them.
Instead, this is about the random memories this job creates when life throws you a curveball. Sometimes, you put on your poncho, gather your equipment and head to the predetermined storm safe spots.
Down there for work, I crammed into the building housing Jefferson City High School’s fieldhouse. Already cramped, I recognized a few students from Platte County and decided to stick with them a bit.
Hey, a little conversation doesn’t hurt, especially when you’re hoping the break ends up being short.
Shortly, I determined Dakota Schmidt, Evan Edwards, Jack Renner, Karleigh Wise, Alex Kelsey, Taylor Farr and Karoline Kilkenny had been separated from the team and coaches. The weather didn’t permit them to travel out looking to rejoin the ranks, so I offered to keep track of them while the storm passed.
We took up space in a cool stairwell and received a few stern warnings from custodial staff for occasionally cracking the door to check the outside status. I grew quite fond of my adopted Platte County track family in our hour together.
I even posted a picture to Twitter of the group to let family and friends know they were accounted for and safe. We truly have a community when you can have students and the local newspaper reporter to come together to pass a little time during an inclement weather situation.
Life is weird, you know?
Anyway, we were able to exit the building after about an hour and rejoin the wayward students with the team, as needed. Even the ones not competing or helping out stuck around to watch their classmates in what ended up a memorable weekend for Platte County athletics.
I moved on to a lonely (and sad) meal of Jack in the Box. I then passed the remaining time posting gifs to Twitter making jokes about what the remaining water-logged events could look like.
You know, like pole vault being represented by a miserably failed attempt of a man to use a log to jump over a river. Or the long jump being a disappearing act for a woman jumping off a chair into a seemingly endless pool of mud.
You know, real creative comedy. I even took requests.
When we returned to the track, I received ovations from both the Platte County and Park Hill track teams that I poked fun at with my tweet storm. Really makes you feel good to have any of your work recognized and appreciated.
On a holiday weekend filled with more work than fun, I found the humor in the little things. Thanks as always go out to the students and coaches who allow me to share — and occasionally be a part of — their memories.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.