While running back to campus after a workout with the head coach of the Winter Track (2010-11) team, tragedy struck. It was my first week as an assistant coach on the team. We’d just completed some hill sprints and were headed back to school. My head coach and I took a different turn; the students returned via another route, while we both ran on the sidewalk of the major avenue that led to school.
As we neared the campus, a squirrel suddenly dashed across the sidewalk before our feet, running out of harm’s way up a tree trunk to my right (it was an avenue, remember?!). We thought all was well and just kept on running. Inexplicably, the squirrel dashed back suddenly across the sidewalk, just as I was about to plant my right foot for the next stride. I heard a sickening sound as my foot connected squarely with the squirrel’s poor head, crushing it against the pavement. I screamed when I realized what had just happened. I had just killed a squirrel on the run, and I couldn’t believe it! As a young boy, I had killed live chickens, but this poor creature was not for food. I was in shock for a few minutes, while my head coach went over to check on the poor mammal. It didn’t survive the impact, expiring under ten seconds.
The following week, when my head coach brought in the team’s T-shirts, I was pleasantly surprised. To commemorate that unfortunate incident, he had requested a “No Squirrel” symbol (the circumscribed silhouette of a squirrel with a slash across it) on the right sleeve. That was really sweet of him! (Let’s hope I don’t kill any more squirrels, though. It was truly traumatic experience!)