"Elsa was 5 years old when someone first mentioned how speedy she was. The gym teacher tracked me down at her Kindergarten Open House to let me know that Elsa was the fastest kid in all of the K-6th school, and her athleticism was very apparent. Of course I was flattered and proud.
2 years later I received an email from Gene Ayers, who I barely knew at the time, to tell me he saw her playing a game of tag in a parking lot and was so impressed by her speed. He said if we were wise we would never let her pick up a softball glove (sorry, Jon). Track was in her future, or so Gene said.
7th grade modified track came and went, with a broken school record in all of her meets that season. But still, no one knew if this would translate into something great or on what level she could realistically compete. Her grandfather and I sat her down after her first season of track and asked her what she wanted out of running. These were the goals she stated:
Win a NY State Title
Run for a Division 1 track program
Go to college for Free
Run and win at NCAA D1 Nationals
And finally, run at the Olympics
Needless to say, she has always had rather lofty goals. We promised, with no guarantees, to do our best to help her reach those goals. It wouldn't be easy, it meant 7 days a week-year round training, and even if she did everything asked of her, she still might not realize her goals. We promised to push her, to keep her accountable, and to encourage her all along the way. But, if at any time she wanted to quit, all she had to do was say the word, and we would all walk away. No questions asked. And so, with the help of my father, and the coaching staff here at Fillmore, she set out to be the fastest she could possibly be.
4 years later, with 2 State titles, 7 State medals, 10 varsity records, 18 meet records broken, 14 sectional titles and 7,554 training miles under her belt, she today, will fulfill two of her greatest goals: signing to run for a great NCAA D1 track program, and the chance to get a college degree at no cost to her (or me, thankfully).
Elsa, I am so proud of you. Not only for this moment, but for every bit of who you are. When statistics told you that you had only a 2.7% chance of making the leap to a Division 1 program, you didn't give up, you only determined to work harder. You have fought through fatigue, boredom, injury, and some pretty significant lung issues. Yet, here you stand, defying the odds, and accomplishing what so many will only ever dream about.
And so, as you sign today, and as blessed and lucky as you might feel for this opportunity, I feel it is Lipscomb who is actually the lucky one. They gain one of the most honest, hardworking, and determined girls I have ever met. Plus, as a bonus, God made you fast, and you run for a higher purpose. I am so very proud to call you my daughter. You have made all of us here at Fillmore proud, and we can't wait to see where this opportunity will take you in the future. Signing today is only the beginning of your story, and we can't wait to read the whole thing!"