Ellie Bixenman writes about discovering track a couple of years ago in Mullen Today’s Unordinary Times. It seemed insignificant at the time, but, boy, was she wrong. Over the past years, she has learned to compete, she has learned how to peak as a runner and she had all of it taken away for her senior season … and yet she refuses to complain. She yearns to be with her Mullen classmates and teammates, but understands what’s going on during this difficult time. And she won’t be intimidated by fear.
March 2018 ... a month that I viewed as insignificant then, but now it’s everything to me.
My sophomore year at Mullen, March of 2018, I joined the track team. Although sophomore year wasn't much in the eyes of success, I definitely knew I found my sport. As new coaches came my junior year and new expectations were set, I also knew that there would be so many more opportunities to become faster, to push myself and to grow. Qualifying for state in the 400 meters my junior year, along with three other successful relays, was a huge eye opener for me. There definitely was a fear within me that pushed me to wait for success to come to me. Yet, I didn’t realize that I had to chase after that success, after the sport I loved, just as fast as I would sprint a 100-meter race. If I could go back and ask the girl standing on the starting line one question, it would be this: “Where is your passion, your purpose?”
Mullen has always been a place of new opportunities for me. Stepping on campus the first day of my senior year, it became real that I soon would have to leave the place that has pushed me to thrive as a student, as an athlete and as a person. Every football game, every time I would walk down an hall bursting with students, every genuine conversation with a friend from Mullen, every time I would scream, “Sko’ Stangs” at a basketball game, every track practice, are little moments in my life in which I will always be thankful. I am so incredibly blessed to be a part of not only the community of Mullen High School, but my club team, MileHigh Track Club. I got the privilege to train all summer, all fall, all winter and to compete at meets that were in state at the Air Force Academy and Colorado School of Mines, and out of state at the Nike Boise Indoor Invitational in Boise. After countless practices of laughter with my amazing teammates and coaches, filled with the highest intensity and hard work, I finally started to understand the passion I was lacking in the sport that I loved so much.
And I didn’t wait any longer. I took nothing for granted in those last months of running before the coronavirus (COVID-19) hit, and without even knowing it. Words cannot express how much track means to me, how much the many perspectives my coaches gave me mean, and how important my team that became my family is to me. Track became more than running fast around a circle, driven by fear. It became a place where my passion could become a tangible act. Track became a place where I could see with so many new perspectives, and grow not only as an athlete, but as the person I was created to be.
My heart is still broken from my senior track season being taken away so fast. My mind can’t help but wonder how far I could have gone this season because my indoor season set me up so perfectly. But instead, amidst everything that is happening within our world right now, I am accepting the fact that this time away from the track will also give me more perspectives, more passion for my sport, and for my life. There are workouts that hurt like nothing else, just like not being able to run my last races with my team and coaches at Mullen hurts like nothing else. But, I know that this time is not a time of waiting for track season to begin again. It is a time to gain new perspectives and growth, just as it would be if I was still running in season. It is a time to do circuits in my living room, a time to do core workouts every day, to do hill workouts … each time adding more fuel to the fire within me. This time during the pandemic is not what I imagined the last months of my senior year to be, but I know that I will come out of this with more passion than ever.
I know that every time I put my spikes on to compete in a race representing The Catholic University of America next year as a freshman in college I will be representing everything that Mullen taught me, everything MileHigh Track Club taught me and everything that God allowed me to see through running track. I will make sure that as a look back on my time running after this global pandemic, there will be no questions asked, because my purpose and my passion will not be hidden by fear.