McKinney North senior long-distance runner London Culbreath came into her season year already firmly established as the greatest track and field athlete of all-time from any McKinney ISD school.
Culbreath came out the chute doing big things as she capped off her historic freshman track season by running a 10:13.67 to set a then-state record in the 3,200 meters. Since then, Culbreath has swept the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs every year of her career at the state track meet in Austin and won 10 overall state titles
(nine individual and one team).
After signing to take her talents to the University of Arkansas earlier this spring, Culbreath shifted her focus toward making history at the state meet.
This weekend, Culbreath was supposed to attempt the career sweep, but with the UIL announcing on April 17 that it was canceling the remainder of spring sports seasons because of the global coronavirus pandemic, Culbreath will not get her date with history.
Recently, Culbreath took time to reflect on the events of this spring and shared her thoughts on splendid career and lost senior season with the McKinney Courier Gazette.
It’s difficult to process that this very weekend, I would’ve been toeing the line for my last high school track and field state championship race had the (Covid-19) pandemic not canceled my season. At times, this doesn't feel like real life.
I never would have pictured my last season to end like this, but I’m still so blessed to have been able to accomplish all of the things I have up to this point. I'm beyond grateful for the lessons this sport has taught me, the teammates who have made each day so enjoyable, my family who has supported me, the coaches who have pushed me, the amazing races I’ve had the opportunity to run in, and the competitors I’ve been able to befriend, all in a matter of for years.
As soon as I began to see how rapidly buildings, restaurants, schools and entire cities were shutting down as a result of the virus, the thought that my last high school track and field season might be next, consumed my mind. In all honesty, the uncertainty of whether we would have the chance to race again made it hard to train.
I still continued to push myself during the uncertainty though, holding on to the small glimmer of hope that we might have the opportunity to return.
I feel like most of us senior athletes knew that returning was highly unlikely and braced ourselves for the painful reality. However, when it was officially revealed that all spring sports and the rest of school was cancelled, it really hit me hard. I took a day to be sad and ache over the dreadful news, as it was hard knowing I wouldn't get the chance to potentially make history in claiming the state title in both the 1,600 and 3,200 all four years of my high school career.
On top of that, I had to face the fact that I had already had my last day of high school without even knowing it and I might not get the chance to see my classmates again before we all head on to the next chapter of our lives. This was supposed to be the time that seniors could spend the last few months together making memories, hanging out, going to one last prom, and graduate side by side.
But after those 24 hours of grieving, I decided to change my attitude about the situation. Amongst all the uncontrollable facets of my life that COVID-19 created, there was one thing I could control, and that was my outlook.
I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and that God has bigger and better things ahead for us all. Of course, I wish I could’ve had one last season, or spent more time with my teammates and friends, but I realized that fixating my attention to the negatives would provide no benefit to me.
I began looking at what good this pandemic has brought. It sounds crazy, but I was able to come up with a lot of positives.
For starters, my life before COVID-19 was bustling with a busy schedule, meets almost every weekend, and hours on end of homework every night. Now with all of this time, I’m able to allow my mind and body to rest, spend these last few months with family, and focus on strengthening my relationship with God.
I may not be able to rep North again, but I’m now able to start fresh and begin training for the University of Arkansas. I learned to not take anything for granted and to savor every single day.
Also, I always feared that I would never have any interesting stories to tell my kids someday because I am a “goody two shoes,” but hey, now I can tell them about my unique drive-through graduation. In all seriousness, it is sad to not be able to finish my last track season and the rest of my senior school year, but these circumstances are beyond my control.
The best thing I can do for myself during a time like this is to keep my head up. Like I said before, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and that God has bigger and better things ahead for us all. Good things are coming and I'm looking forward to them.