I dreaded the 6:00 AM alarm on a Saturday, because well I turned into a wimp. I had become so used to a Mexican cold that never seemed to dip below 45 Fahrenheit, (7.2 Celsius) and knew once I could get past the cold – ll would be well. It had already been a way more hectic weekend but, what else was new- I had a habit of that on and on. The arrival of three students from Ohio University that hailed from my home in Mexico, as well as Spain and Columbia was welcoming and probably the best house-warming gift one could ask for on the first Thanksgiving after six years abroad, creating the community environment in a new house was the best way to continue a very eventful 2017. As these students were today in Ocean City, I, too, had one thin on my mind – the 2017 HEROn Run/Walk at The Vince Morris Trail at Chapel Branch. My stomach was in knots knowing I was an amateur at this again after so long, and wanted to reference Coach Morris in the best possible way, trying to think of any loose ends as I stumbled through morning routines fighting off a brick 31 degree Fahrenheit morning.
Having prepared all items the night before, I quickly jumped into the car, and made my way to Chapel Branch about 45 minutes sooner than i had announced needing to get acquainted with the cold at Chapel on my own terms for over such a long time. I thought the random thoughts that led me to this event day. Did you know Coach Doakes helped come up with the original suggestion from the NRWC’s Marlene Mervine of the Heron event name, and slightly shifting the meaning to HEROn ? It made sense. Coach Morris was a hero to so many, and I witnessed the hero that Coach Doakes, Morris, Perciful, Smith, and Hood performed with youth that many had given up on. They performed a magic that only they could pull off in the pool, on the track, in the wood, on the court, and so many individuals never witnessed the transformation of a student turned athlete – and what a transition they missed in not seeing this occur between these coaches. These coaches were the true heroes in giving something that could not be given just in the classroom, and they created communities upon communities.
When I looked at the second definition of Incidental, I found “liable to happen as a consequence of (an activity).” I often thought I never could have predicted the profound effect that was liable to happen, thanks to these coaches and the impressions they left on so many individuals . These impressions will never leave their souls, their spirit, their minds and bodies. Too many times, myself included, I have been frustrated with what I considered a dead-end when it came to education not serving the basic needs of so many youth, and thank God every day I had come across individuals as these coaches that kept saving so many youth so many times over, and over, and over. If you ever have realized the personal time these coaches have put in on their own time, often times that ranged into the dark hours of the evening, then you realized who the true heroes always were – this event was not only for the sacrifices that Coach Vince Morris left to others, but to these disciples of self-sacrifice that continued to carry on his legacy. Seeing Coach Colbourn arrived solidified the encouragement and energy that unique coaches bring out to further their community outside the confines of their school alone.
As these thought rumbled through my mind, and I found myself putting sand down on the long bridge on the trail, walking and measuring the initial entry onto the trail, counting feet, setting up blankets for the awards on the table, Cory Darden arrived and I could not help but think of all the memories that occurred when Cory was involved. From Battle of the Bands, to Key Club to now being the lone initial morning waker and trail blazer at Chapel, he reinforced his values to so many community needs, from the Clean Up day where he brought volunteers from SSA to the trail, to the current day allowing this event to happen with his presence and time, the second definition of Incidental came back to me and seeing how the energy and devotion to community Cory brought were liable to cause a better community, and how much one person can influence another, and another, it was easy to see Coach Vince Morris walking beside Cory that morning in every step we took. I can’t begin to express how grateful I was for individuals like Cory, the Coaches, the businesses that believed in an event to strengthen the community, as well as NRWC to follow through with the hours outside and behind the scenes to show their belief in they community they live in and what it can become.
From the board members of the NRWC that came, to the participants that believed in the roles we all play, the day matched the sunshine that began to warm us all. Not finding the words when someone placed a hat that Vince used to always wear, i simply began to choke on my words and had to say nothing. Every step I walked I thought how unworthy I was to try and follow the steps of such a great man as Coach Morris, but how grateful I was to be surrounded by so many people who believed in what their community could be. From Ms Lynne Betts who had already been recognized with the 2017 Community Service Award and the countless memories I had of her energy to repair and upkeep parts of the Vince Morris Trial, to the thankless job of preserving and continuing with such limited funding the preservation of so much natural land in Delaware thanks to the NRWC board, to the countless generosity to the sponsors of this community for similar community events, 2017 HEROn 5k Sponsors,
to the participants who brought their families, children, and wives, 5k results – November 25 2017, I realized the incidentals that come from such an event, are not a surprise when you are familiar with the devotion these individuals bring and always brought to a community.
Add to that actually SEEING Coach Jacqueline Morris, and HEARING Coach Perciful retell the pirate mask story, and FEELING the encouragement Coach Doakes, Hood, and Smith brought to an event without uttering a word, it isn’t an accident we all were til gathering at Chapel Branch and it would only be time before the numbers would grow again and a new feeling of discovery and attachment would be made to The Vince Morris Trail at Chapel Branch.
The youth present, the families, the connected attachments to this community, the individuals who came to support the natural and familial ties to the land like neighbors found in Glen Mellin who had done so much research and historical “digging” in this community, to long time walkers and participants at the Chapel Branch trail, their obvious incidentals were because of the belief that communities can be saved from the throes of destruction, but even more so when a collective unit of individuals band together and begin something new.
As the day ends, and individuals dispersed, and Coach Doakes remained way after everyone left to help search for something lost on the grass, as is his style, now and always, I thought of an ironic thought. Was it coincidence, that the creator at R & T Nautical of the Heron trophies, his last name was Morris? It just seemed that not only this whole day, but so much of what has occurred to have us find ourselves full circle, is somewhat of an incidental, but one that defies explanation. It was beyond a good day for so many “incidental” reasons.