By Mackenzie Boucher
Special to southeastconferencema.org
Braden Medeiros and Aidan Carreiro are both track seniors at Dartmouth High who are grateful for the skills and community track has given them throughout their high school careers. The balance of finding a college, practice, schoolwork, and meets can be a lot, but both Aidan and Braden use lessons they learned in track to persevere through, with the support of the track “family,” of course.
Braden does shot-put for the Dartmouth track and field team, and like Aidan, joined freshman year. “It’s different from any other sport you could possibly do, you can’t throw it like any other throwing action in other sports.” Shot-put is difficult to understand from an outside perspective, but the physical skill it takes is undisputed. Braden firmly believes anyone can find a place on the team, “the coaches will find something you’re good at, whether it be shot put or sprints. Coach Breault said I should try shot-put and I did, and it took off from there.”
Aidan runs the 600 meter, the 1000 meter, and 4×400 meter relay. He was introduced to relay sophomore year and has done cross country all four years, “I like track. It’s very inclusive and welcoming. However, it can be stressful at times because coaches expect a lot from us, and if I don’t perform well I feel bad.” Ironically, Aidan does not “like” running although he likes track. “I do track to stay in shape and gain endurance,” he said.
Both Braden and Aidan have learned life long skills from the discipline of the track and field team. Aidan and Braden both mentioned that time management is a skill quickly learned on the track team. “Track taught me accountability because the coaches expect us to be there on time, and you have pressure on you to do something and perform well,” Aidan says. Braden agrees, “I really enjoy track, it gives me the accountability to get my homework done and good time management skills, it keeps you on task.”
Before meets, both athletes feel electric anticipation to perform well. “I get so nervous before races,” Aidan says. “I drink water and listen to music before meets. I listen to country or 80s. I have a range, at Reggie (Lewis Center) I tell other people to drink water.” Braden also has a personal pre-meet ritual, “I eat similar food and listen to similar music before the meet.”
Aidan describes how coaches guided him to success by making meaningful connections. “Freshman year I was a little scared of the coaches, but once you get to know them, you open up and it becomes more personal,” he says. “My distance coach is also my cross country coach. She’s also my Spanish teacher from freshman year, so I’ve been more open to her.” The coaches drive the team to improve their skills and support each other. “They give you all the resources they can. They give you enough to do well and succeed, and I really want to succeed,” Braden says.
Braden claims one of the most important lessons he has learned is how to lift other people up. It’s a golden rule, “be supportive of other people, even if you don’t know them, especially for track. You want everyone to do well in our conference; New Bedford, Brockton, Durfee, we all cheer on each other for shot-put, it’s a nice environment that I haven’t found in any other sport.”
All players have a career defining game or meet, Braden and Aidan are not exceptions. “My junior year, last winter season, was the first time I made it to states. I did not think I would make it that far, but it showed me I am actually pretty good at this. It gave me a lot of motivation to continue and enjoy it.” Braden remembers the meet vividly, “I was seated at 14th or 15th and ended at ninth.” He recalls the feeling of reaching a level of success he previously thought was impossible. “It’s awesome. Nothing can compare. You can hit a homerun in baseball, score the winning goal in soccer, hit a buzzer beater in basketball, but there’s nothing better because it’s you helping yourself rather than you helping a team, you being able to tell yourself ‘I did great today.’ It can’t be matched.”
Aidan has had a similar serendipitous moment, “this years Brockton meet was pretty important, once we beat them, then we had a good chance of winning the whole SEC, which we did,” he says, “I ran the 600 and relay. It was a really tough meet, but we won.”
Both Aidan and Braden plan on continuing track in college either through a club or team because of the positive influence that track and field has had on their lives, which now seems instrumental to keep.