Run, Fillies, Run! Single Moms’ Long Road to the Junior Olympics.

In case you’ve missed it, Beyond Baby Mamas has been helping one of its community members, Nicole Aghaaliandastjerdi, spread the word about her daughter’s track team. The Kentucky Fillies Elite Track Team has been winning medals left and right and because of their tireless efforts, many of the girls have qualified for the Junior Olympics, which begin this Friday. We’ve helped them raise over $1,000 over the weekend. But they still need to raise a total of $3,000 in order to afford for all the girls to travel from their home state of Kentucky to Detroit, MI. For more of the back story, read Nicole’s piece from last week, about single mothers and fundraising. Here’s her update from the girls’ last meet before the Junior Olympics.

After yesterday's competition in Atlanta, the girls were still all aglow, after winning major medals and meeting some of their heroes.
After yesterday’s competition in Atlanta, the girls were still all aglow, after winning major medals and meeting some of their heroes.

This weekend the Fillies traveled from Kentucky to Atlanta, GA for the USATF AAAG Annual Sports Festival in track and field. It was the last meet before the Junior Olympics, and our most competitive to date.

It was also a meet that allowed professional runners compete to qualify for the World Championships in Moscow. The girls had a chance to see runners compete at the next level, up close, instead of through the television set.

I watched their eyes as they carefully studied the runners’ form; a few of the girls silently moved their arms mimicking the pros as they ran. On the second day of the meet, several former Olympians held autograph and photo sessions with the athletes.

The girls hurried over to the tent where the Olympians were seated with their warm up bags and spikes for them to sign. I watched as one by one the girls came back screaming, “He signed my spikes!” “I got her to sign my bib number!” “Look at her time in the 100!” And I could seen their dreams manifest before my eyes. As the day went on, and the results came in I was amazed that of the 13 girls who competed, the majority (if not all) set personal records. And by the end of the meet, we were headed back to Kentucky with 32 medals- 28 of which were in individual events.

Their hearts were beginning to realize that they have a shot at their dreams. National Championships are at stake, and perhaps, a trip to the World Championships at some point. The US selects its top 40 athletes to compete in the Worlds each year — teenagers included.

Kentucky Fillies Elite Track Team founder, Coach T, poses with some of yesterday’s medals. This photo was taken before 100 & 200m finals. Coach T is, herself, a single mom of 3.

This weekend, I was the lone parent chaperone with Coach T and got to witness firsthand the hard work that goes into getting the girls ready for away meets. Two a.m. runs to the grocery store for food at the track the next day, finding a hotel that has a laundromat to wash the uniforms for the second day of competition. Getting to the hotel at 1 am and realizing there is only one washer and dryer and you have to be up at 6:30 am to get to the track by 7:30.

But at the end of the day, I know Coach T wouldn’t have it any other way. Her heart carries the dreams of future Olympians. It is the flint that’s able to make fire in the rain, sparking these girls to believe in themselves and motivating them to courageously pursue their dreams.

The girls have no idea the fundraising struggles we’ve had this year, and quite honestly, that’s how it should be. Their focus is on the track, and ours, as parents, is on the money and getting them to their goal. I haven’t prepared a speech for my daughter in the event we don’t raise the money for the Junior Olympics. My heart won’t let me do that, and after this weekend, I can’t think that that is even an option. Conan O’Brien said it best: “If you work hard, and are kind, amazing things will happen.” I’ve carried this with me since he shared it on his final night hosting the Tonight Show, and I’ve seen it manifest in my own life. I have to believe it to be true for these girls.

Nicole Aghaaliandastjerdi is the mother of two daughters, ages 10 and 11. Please donate to help her youngest make it to the Junior Olympic competition.

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