Ester Marsh: Hard work pays off

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 18, 2024

My husband Kevin and I were so honored to be part of the signing of Eli Julian to Liberty University for running, and Macy Miller to N.C. State for high jump at the South Rowan High School Media Center. Both of them were Hurley YMCA Warriors. For about 10 years, Kevin and I coached track and field. We both retired because our “normal” jobs became too demanding, and also COVID made everything a bit crazy.

Eli started with us when he was 7 years old. He qualified for AAU National and USATF Nationals each year that he ran, and became All American (top 8 in track and field and top 25 in cross country), in most. Now as an 18-year-old, he broke two county records this past 2024 Rowan County Meet at East Rowan. His mile time was 4.23.96, breaking a record from 1980 by Jeff Hutchinson. He broke his own record in the two-mile run from last year with a 9.44.64 in 2024 and 9.49 from 2023, when he actually broke his uncle Benjamin Frick’s record from 1993, which was 9.53! Granted, he is coming from great stock! Both his grandparents were great runners and his mom and dad, Rebekah and Scott Julian were, too.

It doesn’t matter how much talent you have, you have to work very hard to put times like this on the track. What Kevin and I love the most of our former YMCA Warriors, all our kids have heart. All of our kids displayed great sportsmanship. All of our kids cheered each other on, including other teams. The competition was held at the event they were part of. Off the track, they were friends. We loved it, we encouraged it, we groomed it. Unfortunately, after COVID, some things have changed. Why, I have no clue, but I am tired of blaming everything on COVID. We must display and build on kindness for all. Especially in this day and age, where life is unkind and difficult enough as it is. Before each season, we would have each parent and child sign an agreement where they would be respectful, responsible, honest and caring (the YMCA’s four core values) on many subjects. Social media can be amazing, and it has gotten me in contact with a lot of my childhood and college friends. Especially since I moved “across the pond,” it is a lot harder to stay in contact with them until social media came along. However, social media can also cut you like a knife. I love this quote by Morgan Freeman: “The tongue has no bones. But it is strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words.”

Life is hard enough as it is, so our duty is to be kind and look out for each other and most importantly, lift each other up. Seeing our Warriors excel and succeed in life brings us so much joy. Kevin and I tried to get them ready for the real world through sports, and boy, have we seen the fruits of ours and their labor. Besides Eli signing with Liberty University, our former Warrior Macy Miller also signed to N.C. State University for high jump. What a pleasure it was to work with her until, after begging, Andy Eller, an amazing high jump coach, took over. I remember in 2018 when USATF National Championships were in Greensboro at A&T University and Macy became All American (top 8 in the country) with a 4th place in high jump. And now she will be high jumping for N.C. State!

Another one of our amazing Warriors is Connor Price who is graduating from Carson as a great runner, awesome student but most important, amazing human being. We have had many of our previous Hurley YMCA Warriors succeed in life, this group has been special because they were the last ones we coached before we retired. I have another special one coming up, Eli’s sister Hope. She ran in my youngest group and was kicking their butt at a very young age. Can’t wait to see her high school career! All in all, you can have all the talent in the world, but if you do not have the work ethics, your career will be short. If you are unkind going up that ladder, those people will not be there for you when you fall. And believe me, there will be a time when you fall. Kindness, work ethics, respect and caring is the ticket of you becoming a responsible, successful adult. Both Kevin and I are so proud of all our Warriors, before Eli and Macy, and after. Your sportsmanship, work ethics and kindness will take you all the way to the moon. Your hard work will pay off!

Ester H. Marsh is director of healthy living at J.F. Hurley Family YMCA and proud retired coach of all the Hurley YMCA Warriors.