Senior Mehdi Lacombe (Photo by Shimin Zhang)

SO LONG, SENIORS: Country Day will have to manage without this outstanding athlete

Like most Country Day students, I participated in way too many activities. From acting in plays to Mock Trial to singing along with Mr. Wells’ plum song, I was always busy with something.

But the field I dedicated myself to most was athletics. When I started at Country Day, athletic director Matt Vargo came up to me — probably excited to see a new student and potential athlete show up — and asked if I played any sports. He recommended I try a few, but I couldn’t let Country Day sports win over such a strong athlete that easily. So I respectfully declined. They would have to earn me.

Instead, I joined the noncompetitive marathon training elective. I trained all year to run the race, only to find myself on the verge of throwing up afterward. But that’s how everyone feels after running, right? I didn’t let that experience stop me; I kept training the next year — well, until one unfortunate night. I left my sports bag outside for three days, and by a stroke of bad luck, someone stole it. Who knew the top of my locker wasn’t a safe place for it? And gone with the bag were my custom-made soles, the last bastion protecting my feet from serious pain when running.

So, with that somewhat flimsy excuse in hand, I was forced to bail from the race that year. And for good measure, I didn’t run the year after that, either. But marathon training wasn’t the only time I pursued my passion for athletics. Throughout my Country Day career was the Ancil Hoffman capture-the-flag game. When I joined our class’ team, we had a 1-0 record. So I took on the job of keeping that record positive. And I did. At the end of senior year, after I had repeatedly run across only to get chased back and maybe saved the prisoners once, our record grew to 4-0 — oh, wait, flip the numbers. It seems I heard the record wrong when I joined.

But I didn’t want to keep slumming it in the little leagues (sorry, Ancil). I moved up in the athletic world and joined the soccer team! Actually, I just showed up at one game because the team was down a player. I found a girls uniform to wear and went home to grab some running shoes. Notice I said “showed up” and not “played”? That’s because after warming up with the team (and, obviously, scoring a goal while taking practice shots), I sat on the sideline.

I never actually played, but I got to sit with my friend’s mom, Kathryn LaComb, which was pretty fun.

But as in any true success story, I didn’t let that benchwarmer game get me down. So when this spring came around, I joined the baseball team. I signed up, bought gear and everything. I even went to practice!

And with that first practice began my astounding baseball career. To make a long story short, let’s just say I ended the season with a 1.000 batting average (my baseball mentor, Nate Jakobs, let me know that’s what it’s called when you get a hit every time you bat).

Don’t ask why coach Millsback had me turn in my hat and uniform. But all that success wasn’t enough for me, which is why I decided to dedicate the most time I had ever spent on a sport to the greatest sport of them all: esports. Ironically, it’s the only sport in which I participated that has had a semblance of success. 

—By Mehdi Lacombe

Originally published in the May 28 version of the Octagon.

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