Don’t ask me what stirred up the memory – I have no idea.

My high school required a semester-long gym class for all sophomores. It was called “Conditioning,” and segregated by gender. I don’t know what the gals did, but we guys spent the time doing a series of different activities, from weight training to running, and touching on most of the sports. I actually think it was an opportunity for the coaches to see if there were any potential recruits for the varsity teams, but that’s not important right now.

Everyone was benchmarked at the beginning on stretching ability, body fat, and time of running a mile. Your grade at the end of the semester was based upon the percentage of improvement from your initial scores, rather than compared to your classmates – a pretty cool concept, really, especially for guys like me who were (are), at best, mediocre athletes.

So at the end of the semester, we’re doing our mile run times again, and I’m really dragging on the last lap. I mean, I’m ready to quit.

And then I heard somebody yell out my name. My dear friend, Molly, whom I had known since our church nursery days, was with her gym class on the tennis courts, which overlooked the track around the football field. She was a cheerleader and an incredible gymnast.

For some reason, when she saw me on the track, apparently looking like a wounded animal about to give up the ghost (sorry ‘bout the mixed metaphors), she broke into her cheerleader voice and yelled:

“Go, Tony! Go! Go! Run!”

I knew the voice immediately as I heard it, and from somewhere came a burst of energy. I picked up the pace. And as she yelled my name again, “Go, Tony!” I found myself sprinting around the last turn into the straightaway toward the finish line.

I cut 30 seconds of my time from the beginning of the semester. No coaches approached me to play on their teams, but I didn’t care. I was exhausted, thrilled, and grateful for my cheering friend. I’m crying as I remember all these years later.

Child of God, who do you need to encourage today? Who comes to mind right now as you read this sentence? Make the effort to contact that person and break out your cheerleading voice. Go! Run!

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