Hernandez: Reflections from the Mills Caraway Cross Country Invitational

A real life version of “Field of Dreams”

Hernandez: Reflections from the Mills Caraway Cross Country Invitational

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“If you build it, they will come.”

If you live under a rock or, if you’re like me, didn't watch the movie until the actual baseball game was played in MLB last season, that is from the movie Field of Dreams.

In it, Kevin Costner builds a field from his dreams. Kudos to whoever wrote the title of the film. It’s succinct.

I have thought about that movie a lot lately. I have been trying to grow this humble blog organically while also trying to figure out my next career move. In doing that, just like in doing anything, I have to check myself in not taking any shortcuts but rather building it slowly. I hate that Aesop was right when talking about the tortoise and the hare.

I also thought of that movie today when I was at the Mills Caraway Cross Country Invitational.

Courtesy: Susan Brooks

Life, I’ve realized, is a people business. As an introvert, that is scary. Like Linus from Peanuts, I love mankind, it’s people for which I don’t care.

Yet, I keep going back to Mills Caraway. You see, he was my cross country coach in middle school and high school. He didn’t get paid. He had a day job, but, everyday at 4 pm, he would drive to the Santa Fe golf course in his Tundra and coach us by having us run two or three miles.

On Thursdays, we would even get slushes from Sonic that he would pay for out of his own pocket.

Somehow, it seemed like those days were more well attended than practices on Mondays and Tuesdays. I wonder why.

I often questioned why he did it or, more specifically, why he did it even after his son graduated?

I sure wasn’t special, but yet, he was there daily. I wish I knew it then, but in time, I realized that he was building his field.

Some people build their companies to become empires.

Coach Caraway, in turn, was building his field by investing in people.

His legacy wasn’t to build a powerhouse program. Instead, his legacy was to pour into students like me.

It’s funny how life works, though. In planting those seeds in people like me, I am almost positive he had no idea in what came next.

I am often guilty of wishing things were the same as they were growing up.

It’s nostalgia.

You remember the good times a little bit better, but don’t remember the challenges. My dad likes Leave it to Beaver. I like Arthur. My uncle likes the Walton’s. Even if we have seen all of the episodes, there’s a comfort in watching those things because we grew up on them.

However, sometimes change can often be great for you.

I don’t plan on staying in San Angelo, forever. I love this town whole heartedly, but I know to grow, I have to leave it.

In a similar way, there’s a season of life for everyone. In this case, Coach Caraway’s season of life of coaching at Cornerstone was over after my senior year.

Shortly after, my alma mater would soon hire a legendary collegiate distance coach and the program would slow burn into something great.

As I was watching this meet, I was blown away by just how much stronger the program is today from where it was just a decade ago.

There was a meet on campus which would never have been a thing when I was there.

The program is actually popular and strong. Some of the top runners are being recruited by great collegiate distance programs.

More than that, I noticed how the middle school runners seemingly looked up to the high school runners in a way that I don’t remember.

I genuinely don’t think that was Coach Caraway’s goal when he was coaching us. He was there just to minister us.

It took a while for me to get it, but now I’m eternally grateful.

He prepared the field, and they did come. It might have been almost a decade later, but, still, how cool is that?!