Shift 37: Verbal


People still call me Jazz. I like it. I introduce myself as “J.D.” It sounds cool: Jay-dee. Nobody calls me Jenny, but that’s how I’m listed in the track and field team roster.

Name: Jenny Trevalyn | Event: Women’s Mile | Class: Jr.

I’m training all the time, every free moment, except when I’m studying, sleeping, or eating.


Donnie’s been training a lot, too. Early in the semester, he said we’ve got to train hard if we hope to get our verbals this year, and if we don’t get verbal commitments this spring, chances of signing with a college next year are slim to none.

Xavier and Nadja are athletes, too. Xavier plays football and basketball, and Nadja swims. They’re not planning on getting athletic scholarships, though. Nadja is aiming for an academic scholarship, and Xavier’s going for the ROTC. Either that or studying at community college for the first two years and working part-time.

Still, they like to work out with Donnie and me on days we don’t have practice or meets. All semester, we’ve been joining up at the San Myshuno gym.


I’m still doing most of the cooking at YOTO. I’ve been researching nutrition and training diets. Right now, I’m into peppers, tofu, and brown rice. It’s not as boring as it sounds, and it’s packed with protein and B vitamins.


Early in the season, my coach was really working with me on the splits. He had me on the treadmill, and he’d programmed in the rate for the work out. That way, I could feel what it was like to run splits at various times.


Donnie and I made a pact with each other to stay positive.

“Look,” he said, “we’re not gonna be on our game if we’re doubting ourselves and our future all the time. Promise me you won’t bring me down with worrying, and I’ll promise you the same.”

It’s a good thing we made that deal because Luiza sometimes gets worried. Marquis is so smart that he knows he’ll get into the college of his choice, and he’ll get Pell grants and loans to help with whatever scholarships don’t cover. And Xavier’s got his plan down. But Luiza, she worries. She doesn’t even know what she wants to do.

Aadhya tells her she doesn’t have to know, and she doesn’t have to worry, and if she wants to take a year off, she can work at YOTO while she looks into college options. But Luiza worries anyway.


“I think I’ll be a librarian,” she said one evening.

“That would be so sweet,” said Marquis. “You could recommend my books to all the angtsy teens.”

“What books are those?” she asked.

“The ones I’m going to write.”


Everyone laughed but me. Marquis will be a great writer, I’m sure. He’s got more imagination and greater insight than almost anyone I know.

Around mid-February, Donnie told me he’d gotten an email from the University of San Myshuno wrestling coach.

“He wants to take me to lunch,” Donnie said. “He said he wants to tell me about the program.”

This was such good news. Two weeks later, he met the coach at a coffee shop and the coach gave him the verbal agreement. “Stay healthy, keep up the training, keep the weight in your bracket, and we’ll sign you in the fall.”

Donnie’s got it made.


In March, Nadja got her SAT scores. They rock.

“Ninety-ninth percentile?” she said. She was in shock. “Can you believe it? It’s a mistake, right?”

But it wasn’t a mistake, and now she can pretty well write her way into any college she wants.


Donnie and Nadja tried to downplay their successes. They didn’t want to rub it in, and Luiza had been freaking out more and more.

Aadhya took Donnie and Nadja aside whenever she wanted to plan with them or whenever they need to let loose with a little bit of excitement about their futures.

As for me, I just kept chasing the mile record. It’s elusive. I set a few track records. I kept winning races. But I couldn’t get closer to the high school women’s mile record. I tried to keep my spirits up, all through March, when I didn’t hear from any coaches. All through the beginning of April.

I kept training. My coach kept telling me he saw college coaches checking me out at meets. I kept feeling positive, even though inside I was a nervous wreck. Never once did I let myself say or even think, “What if…” But you know, I had to keep every single “what if” at bay.


Then, in mid-April, the coach from University of San Myshuno called. She said she’d been watching me. She liked my style, my attitude, my level of fitness.

“I can tell you’re not even close to the top of your pinacle,” she said, “and I like what I see already. You’ll get there, J.D. And when you do, I want you to get there with us.”

“Is this my verbal?” I asked. I was so nervous.

She just laughed. We had a few more meetings. She showed me around the university, took me to lunch, introduced me to the head of the botany department, showed me the track (which I’d been running on every time it was open for public running, anyway), and then she said, “Jenny Trevalyn, the University of San Myshuno would be delighted if you would run track for us. We know you’ll be breaking that collegiate women’s mile record, and when you do, we want you to be on our team. Now this is your verbal, and we hope to sign you in the fall.”

So, I’ve got to stay healthy. I’ve got to stay fit. I’ve got to get myself into record-breaking form. And if I do all that, it looks like I’ll be running for USM the year after next.


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Shift 33: Advice

Sofia’s mom, Clara, ambushed me Saturday afternoon.

“Come! Play a hand of gin-rummy with me,” she said.

I got that something’s-going-on feeling that I pick up on when I know adults have something they want to talk to me about.

She’s the volunteer college-readiness counselor at YOTO, so I figured it had something to do with that.


“I read the profiles you wrote for our fund-raising campaign,” she said. “That piece was so well written!”

She went on about how “talented” I was. I was pleased with how the piece came out myself, but I haven’t wanted to let it go to my head.

“Let’s see if it results in an increase in contributions,” I said, “and then we can decide if it’s a success or not.”


“Have you put much thought into your career goals?” she asked. “With talent like yours, you could be a professional writer! Or communication specialist!”

“I want to be a botanist,” I replied.


“Seriously?” she asked.

She went on to talk about how many jobs were available for writers, including social media, marketing, communications, journalism, and web-media.

“There are a lot of jobs for botanists, too,” I replied. “And botanists have to be able to write.”

I was thinking of a project I dreamed up last summer when I was with Ted. It’s sort of like profile writing, but it’s writing the profiles of healing herbs that grow wild in the Sierras. I don’t know enough to write it now. I figure it might be a good college project for me.


Clara laughed. “Well, as long as you use your talents! That’s what counts! Follow your interests, use your talents, and you’ll be set for life!”

She went on to talk about my “map for the future.” She had it all worked out. After winter break, I’ll be entering my second semester of junior year. Since I want to get an athletic scholarship in track and an academic scholarship–in addition to a Pell Grant–now’s the time for me to start preparing.

I’ve got to train, so I’ll be in good shape in track season. If I set a record or two, I can pretty much choose my college. Keep my grades up. Study for the SAT.

“And I’m here to help,” she said. “I’ll be checking in to make sure you’ve got everything on course, and if you have any questions, I’m here.”

I appreciate her help. I really do. I’m starting to feel the pressure. While we were talking, I started feeling it even more. What if I don’t make it? I guess I can go to community college for two years. I’ve got to remember that it’s not my job to become the poster child for YOTO or to live up to anybody else’s expectations. It’s my job to do my best to meet my goals. For me. For me and for all the plants of the high country that want to have their stories told!


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