Category Archives: Athletics

A 26.2 Mile Fun Run (Rachel Faulk)

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Every February thousands of runners with wide-ranging ability take to the streets of Birmingham for the Mercedes Marathon. Some run hoping to qualify for the Boston Marathon, while some just walk most of the way. Some choose to compete in the half-marathon. And for others, there is a third option: a five-person relay.

This year I ran in the Mercedes Marathon relay for the first time. The two-loop, 26.2-mile course is divided into five legs: a 10k, then a 5k, another 10k, another 5k, and lastly an 8.1-mile leg to the finish. Not quite ambitious enough to attempt the half-marathon like several of my friends, I volunteered to run the eight-mile leg of a relay.

Sunday, February 12 was a cool, humid morning with rain forecasted. A little over an hour after watching the first handoff, I was in my place, waiting for Courtney Callahan to hand off the timing belt to me—not without anxiety, as I’d never competed in anything longer than a 5k before. At last I spied her coming around the bend, sprinting valiantly up the final hill toward me. She handed me the belt, and I struggled to fasten it around my waist as I started running. Not too fast, I cautioned myself—I have eight miles to go.

But the air was cool, and I felt strong, so I set a moderate pace. Despite several hills, the miles passed quickly beneath my pounding feet. The wind blew against my face as a passed through scenic streets I had never seen before. This, I realized, is why I love to run. My strength started to fade about five miles in, but I pressed on, even forgetting that I had been running for over an hour by the time I reached the twenty-six mile mark. Then my relay team met me and ran the final stretch with me to the finish line! Our combined time was three hours and 45 minutes. But, honestly, I didn’t run for the time or the place. I ran for my team, and I ran because I love to run.

Who knows? Maybe next year I’ll move up to the half-marathon!

Retrospective: The Lady Knights v. Loachapoka (Camilla Lemons)

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They had already made school history, but they did not settle. They had spent countless
hours practicing to reach the level they had achieved. The Lady Knights were the first Westminster basketball team to reach the Sweet Sixteen, but they did not stop there. They defied all odds by their performance in the Elite Eight, and all their hard work led up to the final game against Loachapoka. Going into the game, the Lady Knights were definitely the underdogs. They had been beaten by Loachapoka earlier in the season but remained confident in their training. Nerves were high on game day, and energy from the crowd added to the players’ adrenaline. Nonetheless, their minds were set. They would win. They would make it to the Final Four. They were hungry.
The game was off to a strong start. Both teams played with fierce intensity, but Loachapoka remained two steps ahead. The Lady Knights were down by six points at halftime, and the energy had died down during the second quarter. Not once did they give up or call it quits became they were behind. They remained determined and returned strong after halftime using their momentum to overtake Loachapoka in the fourth quarter. After draining three three-pointers back-to-back, the Lady Knights gained even more momentum when a technical foul was called on Loachapoka due to an extra player on the court. Westminster’s victory was sealed.

It was clear. They had done it. The intense drive of the Lady Knights outweighed that of their competitors, resulting in their first ever shot at the Final Four.

Running Crazy (Pierce Moffett)

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Whenever I tell people that I run cross country, they tend to look at me in a funny way. It’s as if they want to tell me I’m crazy, but they don’t want to appear rude. So to avoid being mean, people always ask me “why?” They don’t seem to believe that it’s possible to run for fun. People cannot comprehend why runners run. To most, running is a punishment used in other sports, meant to inflict pain. But even during a tough, painful practice, I can still find enjoyment in it.

One of the reasons I run is to prepare for racing. Most people (especially myself) have a competitive spirit inside of them. Racing gives me the chance to let that spirit loose. And the feeling of satisfaction after finishing a race is unlike anything else.

However, the biggest reason I run is my team. Nothing builds a stronger bond than running. When you go through a moment of intense pain with someone else, you leave that moment better friends. For me, running has brought some of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life, but if I ever think back on those moments, I can distinctly remember who I experienced them with. No other sport creates the same type of relationship that this creates. Nothing can beat the bond that is made when two people experience excruciating pain. The bonds that I have made through running have honestly turned into some of my strongest friendships. Those friendships are the reason that I run.

But even after I try to explain this reason to people, they still can’t comprehend why I run. So I’ve given up explaining it to people. When they ask “why,” I just answer “because I’m crazy.”

And maybe that’s the most truthful answer of all.

The Praise of Children (Jack Wilson)

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Nothing is more satisfying than the praise of children. Maybe it is their sincerity, or maybe it is their ability to exaggerate. Regardless, there is something that separates a child’s compliment from a friend’s compliment. On a personal level, I have learned that I hold a lot of weight with younger children. Every Thursday I help coach roughly forty eight-year-olds and teach them the basics of soccer. Even though I’m not an adult, they think I hung the moon. I’ve developed secret handshakes with each of these kids, all because I can show them a move or teach them where to go. In the end, this raw and unfiltered praise from young children truly means the most. Every time I take the field on Thursday, I always remember the gravity I hold because of my actions.

Two Years Running

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By Carter Lemons, Class of 2015

On May 2, 2014, the Westminster track team along with hundreds of other runners made the annual journey to Memorial Stadium in Selma, Alabama to compete in the AHSAA Outdoor Track and Field State Championships. For the girls team in particular, the pressure was on. The Lady Knights were the defending champions from the 2013 season and were expected to perform well again. Under the leadership of seniors Katie Brooks Boone and Morgan Reynolds, the team delivered. On May 3, they took their second state championship trophy in two years. For Katie and Morgan, it was a bittersweet moment. Tears mixed with smiles and hugs. It was their last high school meet, but the impact they had on the lives of their teammates will be seen for years to come. They have embodied self discipline, work ethic, and sportsmanship. At practice they supported younger runners. Before races they prayed with and for their competition. They brought something special to the team that cannot be put into words. Katie and Morgan set a standard that improved the entire team athletically, mentally, and spiritually. On behalf of the team and the school, we love you both and we will miss you!

Building Westminster: Sports and Community

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By Jack Stein, Class of 2015

As the new building across the street has risen off the ground and now becomes more complete by the day, the emphasis falls on building Westminster from within. This means attending to our school culture, a big part of which includes school spirit.

In recent years Westminster has proven itself in the athletic arena.  Victory after victory has followed the tireless efforts of each and every team.  But this can only be seen as the fruit of the entire community’s labor.  Directly tied to this success is a sense of pride athletes take in their accomplishments and in the school that supports them.

The spring season is well under way, and the school is fielding excellent track, soccer, and tennis teams.  Attendance at competitions may seem like just another task on the to-do list, but it really does show that the community is involved while also encouraging the athletes. Showing support for Westminster athletics should be important to each and every student, parent, and teacher who cares about Westminster’s growth and reputation among other schools, specifically in the way we represent Christ.

The nature of high school sports demands that schools from a variety of backgrounds must play each other. Most of the schools we play do not share our faith. Our witness on the field, court, or track is an integral part of our school’s mission to transform the world. But the Westminster athletes need your support. So before the season’s over, find a copy of your favorite team’s schedule. Watch a tennis or soccer match, or perhaps stop by a track meet.  Let’s build Westminster together.

All schedules for Westminster sports can be found on the website.

Running for More

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By Alice Boone, Class of 2016

Track and field is more than simply running in circles on a rubber surface. It’s more than throwing heavy projectiles as far as possible. It’s more than winning medals, breaking records, and setting personal bests. It’s even more than attaining the coveted state championship trophy. Track and field is fellowship with teammates and demonstrating the love of Christ to other competitors.

I have made many wonderful memories throughout my competitive years, but one stands out from the rest. Last May, I had the opportunity to compete at the state track meet in Selma, Alabama. Before the preliminary round of the one hundred meter hurdles, I asked my teammate Hope if she would like to pray with me before the start of our race. This is something we did together every meet. It encouraged us and kept our focus on the Lord.

Breaking with our normal routine, I decide on the spot to ask the athletes around us if they would like to join in. At first five girls joined in, then it grew to ten, which quickly grew to fifteen. Pretty soon, we had every competitor in our event circled up to pray. But people kept coming. Competitors sprinted across the track and jumped from the stands to join us. The circle grew wider and wider, and so did my smile. I could not believe that my suggestion to pray with my teammate would have resulted in such enthusiasm from so many athletes. So many people joined, in fact, that the meet officials were forced to delay the current events until we were finished.

Finally, the last athlete had clasped hands with the person beside him, and we all bowed our heads. The stadium was quiet as I yelled out a prayer for all of the athletes competing. I prayed for safety during the meet, joy during competition, and the willingness to offer the glory back to God. I then had the pleasure of leading everyone in the Lord’s Prayer. Afterwards, most everyone was smiling and looked refreshed and encouraged. That experience is more memorable and valuable to me than any medal. 

Westminster Homecoming 2014

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By Olivia Godfrey, Class of 2016

The Westminster School at Oak Mountain celebrated another exciting Homecoming the week of January 21-25. It started off with Hippie/70s dress up day. During lunch there was a crazy human tricks competition between all students. The next day students dressed up as their favorite literary or movie character. Examples of just a few costumes were Pippi Longstocking, characters from Winnie the Pooh, and characters from Monsters, Inc. The following day was Twin Day. Everyone paired up with someone else and became twins for the day by wearing matching clothes. Throughout the whole week, teachers picked the winners of the day’s costume, and the winners were announced the following day. Each person who won earned points for his or her house.

The final dress up day on Friday was Westminster Spirit Day. The whole school was encouraged to wear Westminster wear and show their support for the school. At the end of the day on Friday, the varsity boys and girls basketball teams helped lead a pep rally for all of the Lower School students, encouraging them to come to the Homecoming basketball games the next day. Wild cheering and loud, romping music provided the perfect recipe to get students very excited about the upcoming games.

Saturday finally arrived, and it was Homecoming game day at last. Both teams would be playing Whitesburg Christian Academy at Samford University. The girls played first, coming up just short with a disappointing four point loss. The boys were next, ending with a substantial victory over Whitesburg.

The crowds at these games were impressive. Students from all grades were there cheering on the Knights. During halftime of the girls’ game, the seniors of the varsity boys team were recognized, then during the boys halftime all Lower School athletes and coaches were recognized. Also, a few teachers and those chosen from the crowd participated in the annual half court shot competition.

After the games ended, students in ninth through twelfth grades all headed back to the school for chili and a bonfire. Each house brought chili that was judged, and a winner of the chili competition was announced later that night. It was a great ending to another amazing homecoming week.

 

The Painful Truth: How Pain Management Professionals are Being Undermined by Vague Laws

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By Jack Stein, Class of 2015

Everyone has a different tolerance for pain.  Some people can have a dangerous injury and either not notice it or think that they can handle it on their own.  Others find themselves in great pain with every knock or bruise and think that they need drugs such as OxyContin to cure it.  As a result, it is almost impossible to judge objectively the level of pain that a given individual is in.  The common way doctors attempt to judge a patient’s pain is a 0 – 10 scale (0 being no pain at all, 10 being absolutely unbearable).  However, each person’s scale is subjective to their experience of pain in the past, making it almost impossible to have a consistent ranking of pain for the same injury suffered by two different people.  Because of this ineffective means of identifying pain, many exploit the system and trick their doctors into prescribing more drugs than are needed for the pain.

This subject is explored in Tina Rosenburg’s New York Times article “When is a Pain Doctor a Drug Pusher?” which discusses the dilemma doctors face when treating a patient as to how real their pain is and what dosage to give the patient.  She argues that there is a problem in the way the law allows doctors to prescribe opioids.  One doctor may prescribe an unhealthy, even fatal amount of opioids to a patient without breaking a law.  Another might be scared to prescribe a reasonable amount for fear of the patient misusing them, which could result in the doctor being arrested. Federal law for the distribution of pain medication uses imprecise legal definitions of terms, and Rosenberg argues that this allows for confusion between real patients and addicts.  It is this very law which thousands of addicts try (and often succeed) to break for personal benefit.  Basically, the law puts the distribution of opioids in the hands of the doctors, some of whom are far less educated about pain than one would hope and expect.

Rosenberg cites the case of Ronald McIver, a pain management doctor with an aggressive style of treatment.  He often prescribed double the amount of opioids usually recommended, sometimes even sixteen times the recommended amount. Because pain can only be measured subjectively, McIver always overcompensated in his treatments, aiming for the pain to be a 2 instead of 5 on the 0 – 10 scale.  However, McIver’s style led him into some serious problems.  Some of his patients would fake pain to use the drugs for their ad

dictions.  Others would sell the excess drugs on the black market.  Some patients would drive hundreds of miles just to see McIver, who attempted only weakly to investigate the reality of their pain.  Even before all the  forms were filled out from the patients’ previous doctors, McIver would still prescribe an unusually high amount of drugs.  In cases of doubt, McIver always erred on the side of giving too many pills rather than not enough.

oxycontin-withdrawal-symptoms-addiction-treatment

Rosenberg’s main argument is that the laws about pain management and medication are too vague.  In fact, many jurors and investigators could not find an exact law that McIver broke, despite a clearly harmful and dangerous method for giving prescriptions for opioids.  Many doctors are being prosecuted for stepping over a line that has not even been established, and with pain education being taught in so few medical schools, it is likely to continue like this for some time.  Rosenberg maintains that misconceptions dominate public opinion.  Many doctors live in fear of prosecution for prescribing controlled substances for pain. This needs to be resolved sooner rather than later, says Rosenberg, because real patients are living in pain.  Despite the potential for abuse, opioids such as OxyContin help thousands of pain victims get back to their normal lives.  As it stands, the laws about opioid distribution fail to account for the benefit of such drugs, and as a result many legitimate pain patients have no where to go and no hope for successful recovery.

Rosenburg states that a huge part of the problem as it relates to pain management is the general ignorance of the problem and a proper solution.  Because of this, she is able to form the argument from a legal perspective, examining what approaches are and are not allowed.  Ultimately, she makes the right call based on the evidence provided.  According to the facts that she presented, I agree that the government should do a better job of defining its terms of pain medication and increase its awareness across the country. The medications that are being prescribed today are real and dangerous, especially for those who underestimate their power.  In order to understand the dilemma faced by thousands of pain doctors, it is crucial to remember the purpose of medicine in its most basic form: to help the victims of pain and suffering.  Anything other than that should not be legal, and all attempts to avoid the illegal distribution and abuse of the drugs should be punished harshly.

Pain is debilitating, and often the only solution is for doctors to prescribe heavy drugs.  Abuse is rampant and unavoidable, and often the good drugs are misused for bad results.  Doctors are facing persecution for giving their honest opinion, and pain victims are the collateral damage when the doctors get scared away.  After reading Rosenberg’s article, one is left with an uneasy feeling of pessimism as to the way out healthcare system is being run.  The article touches on many of the flaws in the legal system, and it leaves the reader to determine whether or not it should be amended.

Sharing the Monkey: The True Spirit of Cross Country

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By Maddie Hoaglund, Class of 2017

Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” This verse was the strength of the Westminster Cross Country team of 2012. The team desired to sharpen one another for the glory of God. Whether teammates were running at practice or studying for a test, the goal was for each person to strengthen another.

Cross Country is a team-oriented sport. In order for a team to place, at least five runners must participate. Each person depends on the team to succeed. This is a unique idea because a runner competes individually, yet scores as a team. Before the middle school championship in Scottsboro last year, Coach Callahan encouraged the girls’ team with an image of a monkey. “We all share the monkey. Each person can have a little bit if him. Someone can have an arm or a lip, but no one carries the whole thing.” Coach Callahan was attempting to convey the message that each person was not alone. The entire team shared the burden of running. The top runner or the second runner did not carry the team, but every teammate ran for one another. Every person on the team was necessary and important.

A true team runs not for the glory, but to have fellowship with others on the team. Furthermore, the ultimate goal is to improve in all aspects of life and to glorify God. Morgan Reynolds, the only senior on the cross country team, stated, “The purpose of cross country is to build character to be applied throughout your life. Cross country is not just a sport, where the goal is to win a trophy. It is a team oriented sport which teaches endurance.” Cross country develops habits of hard work and perseverance. Although trophies and championships are accomplishments, they are only impressive by the world’s standards.

The Westminster cross country team’s ultimate goal is to glorify God. If a team wins a championship while glorifying Him, then He receives the credit. Winning for Christ, is all about creating a platform in order to minister to others. The team strives to be a light to the world and live out the love of Christ. As Coach Thompson and Coach Carrell put it best, “The result of my efforts must result in His glory.” In conclusion, no matter how the team does, God will be glorified.