Column: Justin Time

Desire, passion pay off

By Justin Feil, Assistant Sports Editor
   Lauren Morford credits her Olympic Swimming Trials berths in two events to continuing to train and compete upon graduation from Columbia University.
   The real turning point for the 23-year-old came half her life ago, the first time she made a big decision to continue swimming when life was starting to pull others in different directions.
   ”When I started, I started because of my older sister,” recalled the Stuart Country Day graduate. “I started because she was doing it. I joined (Eastern) Express. I stuck with it.
   ”When she was 11 or 12, she decided she wanted to do other things. That’s the time in swimming when you have to decide if you want to stick with it or do other stuff.”
   There aren’t many people that want to stick with something for a payoff that’s coming 12 years later, but that’s just what Morford did. Now, she’s been to an Olympic Trials and is eyeing a chance at placing highly at the U.S. Summer Nationals, and she doesn’t want to stop there.
   In Morford, we see some of the desire that it takes to reach the highest level in athletics. In any sport, it certainly takes talent, but there’s nothing that beats old-fashioned hard work. Put in the time, and the rewards are supposed to follow.
   It’s just deciding which sport to put the time into that can be tricky. Morford stuck with swimming when others went elsewhere because she really liked it. Passion for a sport is a necessary second ingredient.
   Without passion, the work doesn’t get done the same way. Without passion, the years can go by so ordinarily. A lot of times there isn’t instant gratification. It might take a dozen years to reach the ultimate — 18 for Morford if you count when she first started swimming.
   A strong passion for baseball helped bring Mike Edenzon back to a great situation with the Montgomery 12-year-old all-star team. Following last summer, he was looking to continue to play in the fall. Not many of his then-teammates were looking to do so, but he found a group with the current crop of Montgomery 12s who also are passionate about baseball.
   When the spring came, they asked him to play again, and after a tryout, he joined the all-star team. Now, he has the chance to play in the state tournament for the first time at the 12s level.
   It’s the middle of the summer, when there are plenty of forces and distractions and everything else out there that can tug someone away from their passion. It’s times like now, when it’s hot and sticky in plenty of sports are taking time off from organized play, when you find the most dedicated and most passionate athletes working at their craft when others can’t quite muster the desire.
   It’s times like now when you find the difference between those are playing for fun and those that are serious about pursuing a sport as far as they can go.
   It took Lauren Morford 12 years to realize her ultimate dream. It’s a long time, but there’s no doubting now that she knows it was worth it.