Chapter 2 section 3 Tales of Dead Armadillo a Novel About Crosscountry Running words and photos Esteban Erik Stipnieks all rights reserved. 



The mat room provided shelter from the sun.  Stephen introduced Kathrine to Tara.  Katharine’s sister and Stephen's sister had been friends.  Their friendship had continued.  The two Tara and Kathrine were similar hard driving over achievers. The fact that Tara had been a cheerleader in Denton was brought up. Amanda Cook was visibly trying to awaken herself.  Coach Bob announced "You know last night Kurt Cobain committed suicide."  Amanda looked confused.  Stephen snickered.  "Really?"was her comment droopily. Coach Bob looked at Amanda "Go take a wake up lap."  Amanda took off as the group started stretching.  She came back "Lets get a good start Eden Home" Tara was yet to get used to Coach Bob’s sense of humor.  Stephen was smiling.  

Tara heard the song play as they approached.  Stephen's lips were moving.  Amanda knew it was the Alma Matre that was being played. For once, she had been felt assured about Stephen.  This was so different then workouts at North lakes park for Tara.  The training runs were around the high school and as the band played, the tempo of the upcoming school year could be felt.  Stephen was already surging ahead with Bo and Aero as if he was chasing a dream...he was in reality in hot pursuit of a vision.  Tara could feel herself being evaluated by Kathrine.  They went down the street really close to Katharine’s house.  The Road above Panther Canyon had its thick tree cover.  They turned on to California.  Stephen had decided to keep pushing it with Bo and Aero.  That group had steadily started pulling away.  Coach Bob quipped, "At least that side of Stephen has not changed."  Amanda nodded "More weird."  The speed that Stephen was displaying was not sustainable. The Alma Matre was only partially reassuring. Tara asked, “Ever been to Denton?”  Amanda replied "No."  Tara left it at that point.   Kathrine seemed surprised.  Stephen had lead Tara Coach Bob noted and Tara seemed to watch his back like a little sister.  Tara as at a fast side of comfortable.  She took advantage of the slight drop of topography that was California to Lakeview. 

For Tara the run down California did not have the Faulkneresque overtones.  The trees were tall the neighborhood was nice and at Lakeview she turned.  The neighborhood had houses the vintage she was familar with. As she looked to the right she could see a spectacular drop off and a couple deer darted around.  This was the beauty the trees, the deer. 

White tail pictured in front yard off Laurel Lane New Braunfels Texas so technically to hard core Unicorn CC'ers 1990-1991 the house by Erik's!

New Braunfels was pretty.  She did not know that the mass of grass that made up the wilderness that was Denton was actually native to the stretch of land and that trees were there as a twist of a greater tail.  The local flavor was stronger more intense.  Denton had echoes of it on Fry St and the downtown area.  Otherwise Denton appeared to the sterile.  New Braunfels exuded local color and revelled in it.  Braums was not there but DQ held on at locations in its place.  The deer themelves were struggling the predators that would kill them and keep the herd size in check had been killed off for ages.  The deer rifles that could take them out were forbidden inside city limits.  They became suburbanites breeding like rabbits growing smaller and always starving off as the birth rate exceeded carrying capacity of the suburbs themselves.  The deer were great at eating gardens.  The view as it zipped in and out was spectacular.  The guys were sending their encouragement as she descended toward the Eden home sign.  She felt the force of the team.  It was powerful.  The encouragement was sincere and the feeling of unity growing within the team was powerful.  She as she made her way back in the heat her legs slowly getting stiffer sweat soaking her eyes. She was less concerned about her personal fame.  Amanda was cool in her own way she was struggling with the talent she had that overwhelmed her personalty.  Kathrine dominated what talent she had.  Coach Bob was a kid at times in adult’s body who could lead pirate cove.  He was the chief pirate.  This was actually interesting for her.  She was back huffing up the long incline of California.  The elevation had Linda and Amanda drift ahead. Coach Bob slowed down to encourage her.  She made it to Ohio and as left turn was made her pride kicked in and she did a surge keeping pace with Kathrine and started closing on Amanda who was 200 yards ahead as the fight song played.  The crunches and pushups were a necessary formality to end the workout.  The Exceed replaced what had been sweated out.  

That weekend Stephen went to Austin Aero he located a flight instructor who was green.  The ride in the Cessna 150 revealed Stephen had three flight instructors.  He was practiced having only been a couple weeks removed from the cockpit.  Only a couple more hours of dual and solo Stephen would be ready for the check ride and easy pass.  What Stephen did not realize the cockpit was already shaping things for the crosscountry season.   Stephen was becoming smoother and learning to deal with energy and emotion.  He would have a much better season because of it. 

Stephen was looking forward to high fat lunch at the Shlitterbahn employee cafe as he showered. He changed into his clothes then off the employee lot of Schlitterbahn as he arrived he realized that probably the best bet was to take the tram to cashier base.  The exceed was taking its effect.  He was assigned to Scott at Surf Pizza and he took the tram to minimize walking again.  Coach Noel Scott saw him.  The cashier lead was there and signed off that cashier from the register and set things up for Stephen real fast.  Coach Noel asked about the run.  Stephen told him.  Talk drifted to a quiet time.  Coach Noel was at this point his older brother. Coach Noel Scott realized that Stephen could go astray with some of girls on the team and he had been familiar so he decided to give him the tape series Song of Solomon by the adult pastor of the church that Stephen had attended in Denton. He knew that Keith would be later be doing Marriage Without Regrets but from a Coaching standpoint and a strategic stand point he wanted an Achilles heel guarded. He told Stephen he wanted the material in him by the time of the retreat. 

 Stephens father and him would take the Piper Comanche to Sunrise beech.  Stephen had just about finished up his private his check ride was to be in about a week.  Stephen's brain compensated for some of his sloppy hands.  He thought more to compensate for less then stellar reflexes.  The result was despite dyspraxia he was on course to get the license.  The mentoring from his father was paying dividends.  His attitude was rare in some respects.  Stephen has been saturated with Richard Collins and J Mac Mcllellan.  That meant he was an able student of flight despite the fact the field he was advancing uphill.  Stephen would have a solo endorsement soon just to burn up three hours of flight. 

The following morning would bring a light workout.  Coach Bob wanted to do form work.  Bad form was bad news he wanted to make sure his runners had good form.  If anything, the emphasis on form was a secret ingredient in the success of previous teams and mediocre talent over achieving.  The explosive team chemistry was the thunder but the finesse was simple each little detail on each runners form repeated step after step was like putting a dime a day away in a CD. Tom, Dennis, Paul, Aero, Stephen, Kimber, Tara and Amanda were there.  He said give me half up and we will do 6 strides half down do 20 pushups and 40 crunches.  Coach Bob wanted to check out Tara and Stephen's form.  He was skeptical.  As the first stride was done the acceleration showed Stephen had gotten a little more finesse and the form Coach Bob taught him years before was unchanged unlike Stephen King.  There was minor stuff pointed out mainly do lists specific instructions.  Run taller, shorten your stride a hair etc.  Tara looked like she run for Coach Bob since the 8th grade.  Coach smiled another pleasant surprise.  Each time the group ran up and down the football field the happened.  Coach Bob grew in respect of Coach Noel.  Coach Noel could be the head coach of the team but had taken to the role of second fiddle.  Again and again his team looked like his team.  The workout ended.  Noel had provided comfort to Stephen and Tara but his actions were clear Coach Bob had the helm of the team.  

Wednesday rolled around in the morning Stephen ran his first golf course of the summer. Tara was doing an Eden Home.  The force of the team was growing summer casual.  Coach Bob worked with the new comers and him and Coach Noel talked.  The excitement was palatable.  Meet the Unicorn night was coming up soon as well

Thursday was a day without incident.  Stephen would be flown to Sunrise beach with his father.  It was unofficial dual instruction.  His dad was a third partner in a Piper Comanche.  The tube amp and Stratocaster were also secured.  The flight was a short one from Robert Mueller.  It did though provide a degree of practice.  Stephen had JROTC boots from his freshman year since the hard rubber transferred feel of the rudder to his feet. 




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