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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The Full Suburban: Vaulting through high school track meets – and life

May 22, 2022 Updated Sun., May 22, 2022 at 2:52 p.m.

George and Lucy Ditto recently participated in track season at their high school.  (Courtesy of Julia Ditto)
George and Lucy Ditto recently participated in track season at their high school. (Courtesy of Julia Ditto)
By Julia Ditto For The Spokesman-Review

My two oldest children, Lucy and George, recently finished track season at their high school.

Lucy in particular surprised us with how much she enjoyed it. She’s never done a high school sport before (she inherited my aversion to athletics), so we didn’t have high expectations for her interest in track lasting long. But she stuck it out and actually had a great time.

George, on the other hand, is no stranger to high school sports. He’s played football, basketball and tennis throughout his years in high school, and – just like his dad – has a tendency to excel at things quickly after first trying. I love the kid, but this is honestly pretty annoying for those of us who are still trying to figure out how to throw a Frisbee.

It should have come as no surprise that George, who had never participated in track before, turned out to be good at it, especially pole vaulting. How do you just “pick up” a sport that requires you to run at full tilt, thrust a stick into the ground and then launch yourself directly up into the air? This is not a natural skill set for most people, but George took to it right away.

I am attributing my children’s hidden talent in track and field not to their naturally gifted father, but rather to me. You see, I have some decent track chops of my own.

This was proven in one blazing flash of glory one day at Horizon Junior High School when I stunned Mr. Phinney’s entire third-period P.E. class by somehow beating everyone in a high jump competition.

In my memory, the class was made up of boys and girls, and I trounced them all in this shining, Disney movie moment where I leapt over the ever-raising bar again and again to the ooh’s and ahh’s of the crowd of seventh-graders watching me.

I have never shown any athletic ability before or since, and, to this day, I don’t know how I did it.

In reality, it’s possible that the competition was just between girls, and, for all I know, they had all broken their legs that day. This is the only thing that would explain my sudden athletic superiority, but regardless, it’s a moment I will remember forever.

You can see why I’m not surprised to discover that my kids are excelling somewhat in track. It’s in their blood – not to mention that they are highly motivated because it also gets them out of doing most of their chores.

One thing I don’t enjoy about track is the length of the meets. Have you ever been to a high school track meet? They last hours – sometimes all day – and they operate on what is called a “rolling schedule,” which means that the first race starts at a set time, and then every race and event after that proceeds as soon as the previous event is done.

There are no set times, so you have no idea when your child will be participating. You’ll stand there for two or three hours and then watch your kid run in their 15-second race, and then you’ll stand there for another 45 minutes and see your kid pole vault for 2 minutes.

Half an hour later, you’ll turn around to talk to a friend and miss another race entirely, after which you’ll go home to a houseful of the other kids you neglected while you were at said track meet, who will all be wondering what is for dinner, and if you’d like to play a card game, and if you ate all the candy they were saving from Easter because they’ve looked everywhere, and it’s nowhere to be found.

The answers to all these questions are, of course, 1) dinner is whatever leftovers you can scrounge up from the fridge; 2) I’d love to play a card game, but only if it takes 5 minutes or less; and 3) yes, I ate all your Easter candy, so if you’ll please give me a minute, I’d like to find my pole so I can vault over the house and run away down the street.

Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at dittojulia@gmail.com.

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