ABSH Track Meet in Tegucigalpa
Last Friday, students from ten bilingual schools in Honduras gathered at the Villa Olimpica stadium in Tegucigalpa for the annual ABSH (Association of Bilingual Schools of Honduras) Track and Field Meet. Most teams brought dozens of competitors to the meet, their friends and families filling the stands in support. Some teams even sported matching track uniforms, custom-made for the event. And nine of the ten came from either San Pedro Sula or Tegucigalpa, the two largest cities in Honduras.
As those nine teams warmed up on the track, the tenth team stood apart, huddled together in a far corner of the stadium. This team had only nine students -- seven boys and two girls -- and they wore simple white t-shirts emblazoned with their school logo. They had just two supporters in the stands: their school's founder, and the bus driver who drove them to the meet. If they were worn out from their 9-hour bus journey the previous day, they certainly didn't show it. This was the first time any of these students had participated in a track meet -- indeed, it was the first time some of them had been to Tegucigalpa -- and they were visibly excited to be there.
As they huddled together in the morning cold they chanted a single word, louder with each repetition until they were yelling it the at top of their lungs, turning heads from the teams warming up nearby. It was a word which they had cheered at the end of each of their practices for the past two months; practices which had taken place not on lined track ovals like at the Villa Olimpica, but rather on the cobble-stoned streets and winding dirt roads of their hometown. Now they were shouting out this single word for the last time as a team: "Pride! Pride! Pride!" Pride in the hard training they had undergone together, pride in their teammates' efforts, and pride in their school, the Mayatan Bilingual School of Copan Ruinas.
Soon afterwards, the meet began and our students had the chance to show their pride to the other schools and supporters present. Over the course of the day, Mayatan's team competed in twelve events, ranging from the 100m dash, to the 4x400m relay, to the 1500m. Each student ran hard all the way to the finish line, and a couple came away with ribbons -- Alex Peraza of 10th grade placed 2nd in the 800m, and 12th grader Oscar Portillo finished 3rd in the 100m. Henry Faye and Eduardo Berganza each finished 4th in the 400m and 1500m, respectively, narrowly missing out on a ribbon. Every student improved their times drastically since beginning their training in September, and team coach Andrew Gordon was impressed with the students' efforts.
The Mayatan Track team's story had all the hallmarks of a classic underdog sports film. While the meet did not result in a story-book 1st place finish for our team, we are very proud of the commitment and sacrifice our nine students made to train and attend the meet. Congratulations to Mayatan's first-ever track team: Eduardo Berganza, Francisco Villeda, Oscar Portillo, Henry Faye, Jose Danilo Vazquez, Martha Marquez, Samuel Leiva, Alex Peraza, and Kency Elizabeth Coto -- you made us all proud on Friday! And a big thank you to their coaches Andrew Gordon, Charlie Wofford, Sara DeGasperis, Kris Schnepf, and Tommy Flint, and to our #1 fan, school founder Nora Arita.
Check out some photos from the meet below. A complete album can be found on our Facebook page.