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  • Writer's pictureGerald Tindal

Day 64: We grew wings


Today’s letter is about the DVD produced by Ellen. I so wish you were alive and able to view it. Linda and I received a copy when we visited the internship celebration at SPM. Today’s letter is all about this movie because it is so remarkable. You also were remarkable in a different way.

From the cover of the DVD: "We Grew Wings is the untold story of how the women’s teams overcame hurdles and personal struggles to set new records and break through barriers. Decades later, young athletes are running in their footsteps and leaving their mark on the track…Two teams. Two eras. Two chances. This is a story about both yesterday’s legacy and today’s triumphs. And more than anything, about the common bond we all share through sports."

The vignettes are poignant depictions of struggle and discipline. Opportunities taken even though often not offered. Sheer grit. Humble acceptance of success. Women athletes who trained through childhood and believed in themselves even when others did not. Access defined eventually through the tortured bias based on gender. Coaches quoted on the marvel of the athletes. Their sheer ability to perform. The women’s program at the UO building itself in the shadow of the men’s program. Defining itself on its own terms with a succession of athletes. Sprinters and middle distance runners. Hurdlers and vaulters. Jumpers.

Records for both indoors and out. NCAA champions. U.S. Track and Field. Olympic champions. The history continued after the story told by Ellen with so few chances of records falling “Oregon Ducks women's outdoor track and field records, which are vulnerable and which aren't.”

This story will continue. 2012 turned to 2017. Now we’re marking six years after this DVD. But it’s this legacy that’s so important.

Your legacy is what’s important for us. 2018 will turn to 2021, when I retire. Three years following your death. Eventually, I’ll get old and move on with less presence in the lives of others, as it should be. But we will hold you dear in our lives. Having a legacy of you with your peers, being still a part of their lives, and soon a memorial scholarship is so important for us.

Buddy, you are so important in helping us be there for others. With your cohort. Your people. Today's letter is dedicated to Ellen, the faculty and staff in SPM, your classmates, your program.


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