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As I walked, my warm breath made puffs of steam in the wind. Everything was still, silent. I tried to clear my head, but the thoughts kept racing around. I couldn't’t stop the concerns running in my brain, but I knew that after a long day at work, sitting in an office all day, I would be free on the open water. Nothing relaxes me more than the cool wind blowing on the water, the salt mist hitting my forehead repeatedly. I dream of the wind flowing through my hair and making my face tingle as the water splashes on my dry cheeks. The water always cleared my mind, and makes me thankful for the beautiful world we are baler to live in. Then, suddenly, a thought occurred in my head. The team had a race today. Not only was I going to be late, but I would have to set up the course and deal with the stress of coaching from the boat. I guess there was no chance of a relaxing day at this point. I walked through the empty parking lot and approached the old blue pick-up truck I was happy to call my own.
As I pulled up to the yacht club and parked my truck on the dirt road, because we weren’t allowed to use the parking lot, I saw the school bus filled with high school children pull up. I looked at my watch. It read: 3:40 March 2, 2009. This date stood out in my mind, but I couldn't’t remember why. Suddenly, a shock went through me and I soon knew that today was the big day. The day we race Tabor Academy. Tabor has been our most competitive team yet, and the team we lost to last time we raced. The kids were motivated be victorious this time, and as I walked on the bus to address the team, I heard chatter in the far back of the bus. It was Roger, the oldest, talking to Sandra,
“I can’t believe we’re racing Tabor again. Those kids think they are so great because they can afford pretty much anything they want.”
“Tell me about it,” Sandra responded sarcastically.
“I can’t believe they think they are so much better than us. We can’t let those boarding school snobs win again. We have to get them this time.”
I listened to this conversation until I couldn't’t take it anymore. Sailing is about competing and having fun. It’s about being on the water and improving. This very moment brought down my positive feeling and I became frustrated that these kids would think or talk in such a way towards a team who beat us fairly when we last raced. As we got off the bus, the kids went over to the tables to change. I stepped down from the bus and noticed a change in the wind. It began picking up speed and the wind chimes on the side of the yacht club’s main building began to hit each other furiously with every gust of wind that forcefully blew by. The large boats slammed against the dock and I could tell this race was going to be hard for these kids. I looked up at the sky above me, and saw dark black encircling what was left of the clear blue sky. Heavy storm clouds swarmed in and all of a sudden, I felt a raindrop on the edge of my nose, tickling my face. Although I was relatively far away watching the waves crash against the main dock, I overheard another conversation coming from the team that had just pulled up in the parking lot.
“Alright guys, lets crush these kids like we did last time. It should be easy considering by how much we won last time. Those kids are so annoying and totally deserve what’s coming to them. Let’s show them we are way better than they will ever be. They may think they’re better than us, but it’s time to put them in their place.”
“Yeah those idiots won’t even know what happened.”
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as the anger and feelings of frustration resurfaced. I still did not understand what would compel these young kids to be so hateful and competitive towards each other. Maybe I just didn’t understand the way kids behave anymore. I guess a lot has changed since I was their age. I walked over to the tables to meet up with the JV coach. We started talking about how important this victory would be for our team and to advance to the state championships. All of the kids were ready to go to the dock, but I needed to unlock the large gray gate blocking off the entryway to the dock. This gate is such a hassle sometimes, but it does prevent the kids from getting ahead of themselves. As I was walking over a sharp high-pitched voice rang in my ear.
“Larry! Charlie! Someone, come over here! There’s a man on the concrete.”
I raced over to see what they were talking about. There was a circle of children surrounding something. I pushed them out of the way because they were being no help at all and saw a man lying down. His face was wrinkly and purple. His hands were blue, and his eyes barely open. I shivered at the sight of him, but I knew now was not a time to stare. I took his pulse. As I touched his cold dry neck, my fingers felt a small vibration that soon faded over a matter of seconds. I called the other coach, Charlie, over to where I was hovering. Time seemed to have stopped completely. The wind chimes now ringing in my ears louder than ever, and I yelled loudly,
“Someone call 911!”
All I got were blank stares from the children. They seemed so amused by this man that they probably weren’t listening. So I yelled again. One of the older children responded and yelled to the other team members standing back. However, none of them had a phone. I kept yelling as time continuously slowed. The wind chimes now seemed to be slapping my ears and making me deaf. Their high-pitched ring and sharp sounds pounding on my eardrums. The salt air whipping at my face until I felt as though my skin was being ripped off by this burning sensation. I yelled yet again, and then all of a sudden, a boy in a Tabor Academy racing shirt came up to me and gave me his phone. I called 911 and told them a man was unresponsive here and that his pulse was barely there. Time was still moving slowly and I suddenly flashed back to a time where I was only a high school kid in a CRP class. I suddenly knew what I had to do. I leaned over, put one hand over the other, and started vigorously pushing on the man’s chest repeatedly. I lost count of how many times I had done it, but I kept pushing anyway, knowing that every push was exerting force on his diaphragm. His face still remained motionless and cold. The kids were watching, I couldn't’t let them down. As soon as I heard the distant alarm of the ambulance, time seemed to speed up and frantically move fast. The wind chimes now hitting each other faster than ever the flat pitch still knocking at my inner ear. I waited for the EMTs and when they came over to where I was hovering over the man, they asked me to step back as they loaded him onto a stretcher.
I saw the looks of shock on all the kid’s faces as they wheeled the man’s almost lifeless body across the concrete on which he had fallen. The whispers circulating around my ears spoke of troubles and concern for the man we soon discovered to be named Donald. All of the children sat down on the picnic tables. Suddenly, it seemed as though the segregation between these two teams was gone. They were all just talking as though they never had any arguments in the past. I saw the team members laughing together, and I felt a feeling of warmth overwhelm my body, and the blood return to my face. A certain happiness washed over me as I remembered this is the way the sport should be. It should be relaxed and fun, a chance for a bunch of kids to come together. My mind raced around the idea that these kids finally understood what it was like to enjoy sailing and just have fun. The judgment and negative attitudes seems to blow off with the wind.
My heart was still racing from the events that had taken place. I looked all around me and saw the boats rocking gently on the dock, everything restored to its original balance. The wind chimes now softly hitting each other making a light melodic sound in the distance. I felt the warmth of the sun come over me as the sky cleared from the cloudy dismal state that previously was there. I looked up to see the warm smiling faces of all the young adults ready to race. The beams of light hurt my eyes as the sun reflected the light off of the gate leading to the dock. The kids waited for me to unlock the passage they yearned to enter with a new positive attitude of what racing should be. I hesitated and handed the keys to Roger. With the key in hand, he led the rest of the young adults through the gate to the free open water, with the wind chimes softly tapping in the distance.