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The Race is not to the Swift

Name: Mckennah Palmer
From: Saratoga Springs, UT
Grade: High School Senior
School: Westlake High School
Votes: 0

I had to run two miles around our school’s outdoor track under 12
minutes or I wouldn’t make the team. I had spent all summer getting
up early and working out with the Westlake girls soccer club in
preparation for three grueling days of tryouts. We were told that we
would never make our time if we paced ourselves; we had to flat out
sprint the whole two miles.

I loved soccer. With all the happiness of a child’s first thrill of
scoring a goal, I had played on city league teams every hot and lazy
summer since I was six. But this was different. This was early
morning drills, scrimmages, running miles in the rain, and the
constant concern of ACL injuries. The tryouts were meant to
physically overextend the participants to see who could make the top
twenty spots. Everyone worked together, but secretly counted the
number of girls that were still around by the end of the summer
fitness program.

Eleven minutes,” the coach called out as a warning from the finish line.

I was the last one on the track. And I was spent. I stumbled and
stopped.

One of the other competitors who had finished, still breathing hard from
the sidelines, saw me and ran back on the track. She ran beside me
the whole last lap as we came in together; that’s what teammates
do. I have a motivational picture at home that reminds me, “The
race is not to the swift, but to those who keep on running.”

Later, a list was posted of the players who had made the team. I wasn’t on
it.

That same fateful week of soccer tryouts, my family discovered that my
younger sister’s city league team was going to be disbanded because
there was not enough volunteers that year. With my father as the
coach and me as the assistant coach, the team qualified to play that
season. I volunteered 5 hrs/week for three months in the spring and
three months in the fall; I lead the warm ups, drills, and
scrimmages. I wasn’t one of eleven elite players on the field that
everyone watched play at my high school, but instead, I volunteered
my time to the community and got to be part of an organization that
helped everyone be a team player. Because of my love of soccer and my
new team, I ended up volunteering the next year as well.

After sitting in on classes at the Computer Science department at BYU, I
saw girls who were passionate about projects they were working on,
answering my questions with a “been there, done that” knowledge
of the field. For the help I have received when I’ve felt like I
couldn’t finish that last lap, I want to pay it forward by
launching a similar BYUI Women in Computer Science group in Idaho; a
forward-looking mentorship program to help other girls make it across
the finish line for years to come.