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From the Rage Archives

Truth is found through devotion,
and intensity is the only true measure of devotion.

2001 U.S. Track & Field Championships: The Rage Volunteers...Again

The Basket Crew: Like Synchronized Swimmers...

"About as pathetic as anything Inspector Clouseau has ever done in one of his stupid movies…only this was real…" -Unknown race official commenting on The Rage's weak attempt at calling splits at the Run for the Shamrock.

The ensuring controversy nearly resulted in pulling all future 10K Truth field pass privileges to USTAF sanctioned events, something most web-sites (even with our connections) might not ever recover from had Manciata not intervened on behalf of The Rage. Knowing the Shamrock's race director certainly helped…plus throwing in a new set of shoes after The Rage repeatedly shoveled hand-fulls of dirt on his brand new pair of Nikes…a reflex from way too many years getting the short end of hard cutter calls that clearly dusted the corners. (Editors note: However, the comment speculating on what appeared to be more that just some liberal pruning on his family tree, was inexcusable, and The Rage has personally apologized).

The Rage and his coveted Field Pass: "...It's all coming back to me now..."

Thanks to Manciata, I was now free to volunteer at one of the premier race events in the country: the 2001 U.S. Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon Campus (Eugene, Oregon). I was anxious to put all of the prior controversy behind me. "Just blend in, baby," I told myself, pulling the bill down over my face as I stood in line waiting to get my field pass. The last thing I wanted to do was have to buy someone another pair of (gasp) Nikes. If I stayed away from the long jump pit or shot put area, I probably wouldn't have much to worry about. Dirt is much easier to find at a road race event.

So, who has to carry the Judges stuff?

The official at the gate scanned the list of names for my name as I stepped up to the window. "So you're The Rage, huh? Nice split calls at the Shamrock." ("Damn," I thought to myself. "He knows me!"). "I heard you'd been cleared. Okay, you're in…but you ain't callin' out no splits here." And then the merciless guy blurts out for all to hear: "THE BASKET CREW MEETS OVER THERE."

I hung my head in shame as I slunk past the long line of snickering volunteers...only managing a shameful glance at those with real assignments, like the hurdle stackers, long jump pit rakers, javelin retrievers, shot put collectors and…the tightest of tight asses...The Judges.

Not that any of these chumps would recognize or appreciate that the basket crew was no chump assignment whatsoever. It requires timing, speed, a keen sense of judgement and, most importantly, working in unison with your fellow basket crewmembers (the analogy of synchronized swimming comes to mind). Each athlete in the running events would have a basket right behind the starting blocks when they peel off their sweats, headphones and whatever else they bring along. When they get done with their heat, they want their stuff in the finishers' corral… and they want it now, baby.

The Rage in Action: How hard can this be?

I was determined to prove that I could redeem myself, but admittedly, I was nervous. To make matters worse, as I waited for my event assignment, someone comes up to me and asks "Are you with drug testing?" I thought I had been demoted before I even got started. Images flashed through my mind of rubber gloves, knee pads and trying to hold some beaker steady with shaking hands while looking up into the apprehensive eyes of a world class athlete. I couldn't help myself any longer and finally lost it. "NO WAY, MAN! I'M WITH THE BASKET CREW!" The shocked official said: "It's O.K. Just chill, all right? I'm sure you'll do just fine."

After those two nice guys in the red coats and the Sam Snead hats helped me back into my chair, (stopping me from going nose to nose with Mr. Druggie), once again, I pulled the bill of my hat down and waited for my assignment.

Maurice Green: "I hope that skinny, bald dude can handle my stuff."

Finally, I received my assignment. I would start with the men's and women's 400 meters and then move over to the men's 100 meters. Things started out o.k. As each runner departed the blocks, we ran out to retrieve the basket, some of which would be overflowing with gear. We had to carry 2-3 at a time back to the finisher's corral, where the competitors would be arriving. Everything went smoothly, until the 100 meters, where Maurice Green would be running.

Green was showing up to this event as required in order to compete in the World Championships in a couple of months in Edmonton, Aberta/Canada. However, he would run only one heat in protest, having already qualified for the Worlds. Green was hurt and had a legitimate beef with the USTAF. Nonetheless, being the fine competitor that he is, he showed up and was determined to run fast…and I might be carrying his basket to the finish area!

Then, things got dicey. The start of the 100 meters was at the opposite end of the track. I was asked to step up the pace and try to carry as many baskets as I could. On the very first heat, after the runners were about half way down the track, I stepped onto the track and started to stack the baskets for transport, as I thought I was supposed to do. I got about three-high and found myself in a rather non-sychronesque-swimming like tug of war with one of my fellow basket crewmembers on the last basket. In the ensuing struggle, one of the garments fell out of one of the competitor's baskets. Which one? Oh, no. I hoped it wasn't Jon Drummonds. I'd especially hate to get reamed by him. That guy can rattle.

Green after his 9:90: "Anyone seen my stuff?"

While I didn't get reamed by Drummond, my fellow basket crew members gave me some feedback. I hate feedback. Expecting to hear about the garment, instead, I heard about stepping on the track too early. I had failed to adjust my retrieval procedure from the 400m and inadvertently obscured the view of The Judges in the first two lanes, looking for lane violations. Duh. How could I have been so stupid?

Once again, I was pulling down the bill of my cap…but it wouldn't go any lower. I tried to hang close to a few of my basket crew colleagues, trying desperately to fit in, but they, understandably, gave me a wide berth as The Judges in the first two lanes shook their heads in disgust. Out of sheer frustration, I yell "So think about why you guys are assigned to those lanes anyway. Let me know when you think you can handle 4 and 5."

Shortly after that, I was asking the same two guys in the Sam Snead hats if I could make just one phone call.

"Bruce? Rage, here…" I then put my hand over the receiver and asked "…Hey, what size shoes do you think those two judges wear?" - The Rage

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   Date and time page last updated: 06/04/2004 8:00 PM