Gulf Stream School eighth-grader Olivia Gaudree is one of only four students in America recognized by the USA Today Sportsmanship Essay Contest on March 2. Read her touching essay below:
Une, deux, trois, quatre, cinq- I counted with my eyes closed. Reaching twenty, I slowly scanned the lawn for any obvious hiding places, while keeping my eyes on the ball in the middle of the field. Although this was only the second time that I played cache-cache football, I felt confident enough to be the keeper. It felt good not to have to be skilled in order to play. My cousins were well hidden, just like the rare form of bone cancer my grandfather has, and had been before all of the test and x-rays discovered its hiding place.
I knew that running through everybody’s mind in the old house in Briollay was happiness because of our return and sadness for the reason why we had come. But as we kids congregated on the lawn, we knew that this was our getaway; a place where we did not have to think about cancer. We could run and hide and sneak up to kick the ball, ending the game. This was the life of cancer. It hides in different places of the body, but then one day it sneaks up on you, and before you can begin to wonder what is wrong, it is over. Unlike cancer, as soon as our game had ended it would begin again. Anything was possible.
Although my cousins and I spoke different languages and grew up on different continents, this sport connected us. We all felt the adrenalin rush through our veins before the seeker called out “Olivia, derrière l’arbre.” I knew that I would have another chance even if our team did not win. And if we won, we would all gather round and congratulate each other. This was true sportsmanship. I loved the feeling of family in this sport and how if one of us fell, someone nearby would rush to our aid with a hand held out.
I felt the freshly fallen leaves crush beneath my feet as I ran as fast as my legs could carry me. Although I am not very athletic, I was sure that this was the feeling that many of my friends experienced from playing their favorite sports. I belonged here playing this sport. And the feeling that I had when I did score, and my family crowded around to congratulate me, could not be described in words. However, I knew that the game could not last forever. One day, the ball would be kicked for the last time as cancer will take my grandfather. But although the outcome is absolute, my family and I will always have a smile on our faces; we will always help him up when he falls. That is what true sportsmanship is.