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Checkers or Chess?

Photo: Bruce Buckley

Chess or Checkers? Do you play the long game, planning multiple moves ahead? Or do you play the short game, living and deciding in the moment? I would love to be that clever person who can tell you the next 27 moves to checkmate, but let’s be honest, I’m the one who up and moved to Honduras for two years because I felt compelled to experience Central America. All I had was a very strong sense that that was what I needed to do in that moment: gather up some clothes, a passport, and a Dummies Guide to Teaching and board a plane for a country with the highest murder rate in the world. On the practical side, growing up as the oldest of seven siblings, teaching middle school for over a decade, and traveling for large chunks of time, have also forced me to think ahead and to anticipate future scenarios. However, on the level of life choices, I’m definitely a checkers gal.

It’s a bit of a life parallel that I ended up racing cyclocross. There are very few straight lines in cyclocross, and my life has not followed any sort of straightforward, logical plan. After many adventures and paths taken, things have come full lap for me in a way. Initially an art major in college, I ended up getting my bachelors in kinesiology instead because I was very interested to understand the body and how to get faster. Unenthused by being an athletic trainer however, I found inspiration in the thought of traveling outside the small community in which I had grown up. That’s when I moved to Honduras and supported myself by teaching at an International School.

Those were an amazing two years of adventures and misadventures, of reinventing myself in a place where no one knew me and had no preconceived ideas about who I was. Rather than trying to be a different person to different people in my life, it was a time when I finally could just find the one me I wanted to be. Listening to that voice that told me to go to Honduras helped me figure out that it was, in fact, my very own voice

Though a very painful decision to leave the life I had built there, I decided to move back home. The truth is, I missed my family, even if I had needed that vacuum to create an original “me.” Teaching had really intrigued me, and I decided to get my Masters in Education in Human Development and Psychology so that I could be better at it. Afterward, I went on a “practice” job interview for a middle school position that turned out to be exactly the job that I wanted. I juggled two other previous job commitments, working 12+ hours a day, so that I could secure the job. The following summer, I devoted 8 hours a day during my break to study French so that I could teach both languages for the school the following year.

At first, the job was indeed everything I could ask for: 5 grade-level colleagues who became close friends (and we worked together for an amazing 11 years), a community with high expectations and ample resources, and an administration who supported by growing interest in competitive sport