This Was My Chance.
It was the fall of 2007 and the Upper Dublin boy’s cross country team had high aspirations, eyeing the state championship in November.
As a desperate runt who always fell in the shadow of my older brothers, this was my opportunity. The 7th and final spot on the varsity team was open, and this was my chance.
But there was one person standing in my way…
Gourlay was always a little faster than me and I hated him. Over the previous two seasons he’d stamped himself as a better runner, most notably running a 4:38 mile as a sophomore.
We traded victories throughout the XC season but I got the nod for the seventh varsity spot at districts. This was the big audition.
Our resumes were so similar, now it was up to the coaches.
The Fateful Conversation
It was the day before the race and our coach called me and Gourlay into the room.
Here’s how it went down:
Coach: “So… who WANTS to run?”
Me and Gourlay: “I mean, we both do”
Coach: “Okay, but who wants to run more”
Gourlay: “Sam probably does.”
Coach: “Okay, well then that’s it. Sam’s going to run.”
Vandegrift was pissed at Gourlay and questioned why my “desire” was greater than his. Gourlay basically said “I don’t know, Sam cares more than I do.” To this day, Gourlay will say he was just being honest.
Deep down, Vandegrift knew the answer, he just wanted to hear us say it. The 7th man didn’t matter, and odds are Gourlay would have run faster than me, but Grift thought “This would mean more to Sam“, and once Gourlay confirmed that though, it was a done deal.
Gourlay and I hated each other forever after that and I haven’t seen him since.