Bangor 8th Grader Runs First Race In Mom’s Shoes, Sets Course Record In Second Race
In a day and age where sports headlines seem to be mostly about two things, controversy or Taylor Swift...or sometimes both, it's nice to be able to share a story about a local kid who's inspiring those around him with his heart, his determination, and his talent.
This is All Saints Catholic School 8th grader, Gavin Rogers.
Rogers first came onto my radar last winter. My daughter started on the middle school basketball team. And whenever the girls' team would have a game, the boys would also have a game. And since we made it a ritual to stay and support both teams, I got to see then 7th grade Rogers in action.
A natural athlete, Rogers played with grace and skill, often hitting 3-point shots for the Saints. He made it look easy. You know the type. But what impressed me wasn't his obvious skill, but rather the very humble way in which he encouraged both his own teammates on his team and the girl's team, but also went to the aid of opposing team members if they would fall and/or get injured. You could tell he was just a good kid.
Rogers, whose family moved from Central Pennsylvania to Maine just before he entered middle school, has been involved with sports since he started soccer at the age of 4, his mom Kate says.
"We've always been involved in some kind of activity, and he is good at most. He has lots of energy! He loves soccer and plays for school and also a travel team. He also plays basketball for school and track, and he did wrestling for about 2 years."
I had seen, from pictures on the school's Facebook Page, that he was playing soccer this fall, so I was surprised to see him show up at a Cross-Country meet in Lincoln two weeks ago. '
My daughter runs, as does Roger's sister, Mia. At first, I thought he was there to support his sister.
Then I saw him approach his mom, with a bit of concern on his face after speaking to the team's assistant coach.
"They said I could run, but I don't have my shorts or sneakers with me, " he told his mom. You see, Gavin had recently expressed interest in also joining the school's cross-country team to the athletic director at All Saints, Mr. Forbes, just the week prior.
Said his mom, "When we moved here in 2021, he was exposed to track for the first time. Summer track. He and Mia [his younger sister] loved it, and he couldn't wait to do it at school. He likes to be fast. He enjoys running the longer distances ( and hurdles) and Mr. Forbes keeps track of the mile times at school. I think Gavin holds that record as of this year as well. He was told that when soccer did not conflict, he could try to participate on the boys' [cross-country] team. The event in Lincoln was a surprise, but he was happy to join."
He hadn't planned on running in the meet, but met with the opportunity to do so, Rogers approached his mom with a problem: He needed sneakers as he couldn't run in his Vans.
After asking around if anyone had a spare pair of size 7 and a half sneakers, it was discovered that Rogers' own mom was the closest in size, and she just happened to be wearing sneakers that day.
Without hesitation, his mom swapped shoes with him. (Any parent of a middle school boy knows that those shoes are not always the most fun to have around the house, let alone wear on your feet, but she did it because she's a mom who rocks!)
Rogers took his place at the starting line, in his sweatpants, an extra team jersey...and his mom's shoes.
When the runners started to appear in the distance and approach the finish line, there was Rogers running in 2nd place.
Having crossed the finish line, he flashed a grin and nodded in a brief moment of celebration, but then Rogers immediately circled back to cheer on the other runners, not just of his own team but all the others competing that day. And he did the same for the girls when it was their turn.
Following Roger's example, and at the encouragement of their coach Vanessa Rehmeyer, most of the All Saints teammates took to cheering on all the athletes with Rogers.
Fast forward a week, and at the next meet against Brewer, Rogers was prepared this time. He was wearing shorts and his own sneakers.
Not only did Rogers dig deep and push himself hard at the final stretch to win the race, but he set a new course record propelling his All Saints team as a whole to first place!
And once again, he headed straight back around to cheer on the other runners.
Extraordinaire athletes aren't necessarily a rarity. But when you combine talent, with heart and humility--that's something special, in my opinion. And it's something to be noticed and celebrated.
Let's acknowledge not just those who lead based on the scoreboards, but those who lead by example, who inspire athletic excellence and also the excellence of character.
Kids like Gavin Rogers, who ran his first cross-country meet...in his mom's shoes...earning 2nd place, and the respect of all who cheered him on.
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