EAGLE POINT -- Aaron Traister has been running for a long time, but not on a track. He's been running from the upbringing that left him looking after himself, wondering what to do next.
"My dad really wasn't around," Traister said, "I had a step dad, but he was always on drugs. My mom wasn't really there. So, I pretty much raised myself by the time I was 14."
Without a proper upbringing, life in high school blindsided Traister, who said he fell in with the wrong crowd.
"I didn't make good decisions and I grew up from it," Traister said, "I don't regret anything, because it makes me who I am now, but sometimes I wish things were different."
Wanting to go out for football after his sophomore year, Traister went to every morning conditioning session so he'd be able to play his junior year.
"On the last day of school, one of the coaches came up to me and said, 'Hey, you can't play. You're not on track to graduate,'" Traister recalls.
Being ruled academically ineligible to play football was a wakeup call for the soon-to-be junior who hadn't put any work in the classroom the previous two years. He was determined to turn his grades around in order to be able to play sports at some point in high school. the damage was done and by the time this spring, his final semester of his senior year rolled around, he was still ineligible. Athletic director, Seth Womack, told Traister he had one option.
"He said I could write a hardship letter and said I had about a 40 percent chance of it working out and me actually being able to play," Traister said, "It turns out it worked, so here I am."
The hardship letter, detailing his rough upbringing and his slow start to high school was enough to convince the powers that be he deserved to be eligible in sports for the spring semester. He went out for the sport a subsitute teacher coached.
"I happened to see this kid who had great hops that was working really hard and looked developed," Eagle Point head track & field coach, Jef McClellan said.
"He was a sub one day and he came out and told me, 'Hey, you're fast. Come out for track,'" Traister remembers McClellan telling him in his athletic conditioning class.
As soon as Traister got the good news that his hardship letter had made him eligible, he was ready to get training.
"The first thing I thought was, 'Where's the track? I need to start running,'" Traister said, "After I got that, I was like, 'Alright, training starts right now after school.'"
On Tuesday, April 9, Traister competed in his first track meet. His first race was the 100-meter dash.
With his first race in the books, Traister has the rest of his senior year to compete, making up for lost time along the way. He will continue running like he has all his life, but now with a focus and his eyes straight ahead. Traister said as long as he does all he needs to do in the final weeks of the school year, he will graduate on time.
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