For the Love of Kids, Not One More

Saturday morning, we awoke to uncharacteristically gray, dreary weather here in Santa Barbara. The air felt like heavy wet wool.

Normally, Saturday mornings are one of my favorite moments of the week because I have the joy of coaching our Kids Corner Coyotes running program with Nash Jimenez, but this morning was anything but light and joyful. My shoulders were wrapped in a heavy shawl of melancholy.

It was almost as if Mother Nature knew.

She knew that less than twelve hours earlier six college students had been murdered at UCSB-Isla Vista, just two minutes from where we were holding our morning practice at Goleta Beach Park. And she knew that thirteen others had also been injured by a gun-wielding madman, incapable of managing his rage.

When I first heard the news earlier that the morning, I was sickened, saddened, and furious.

But I was not one bit surprised.

Why wouldn’t another mass shooting happen when nothing had changed since the last one…or the one before…or the one before? And why wouldn’t it be in my own backyard? Santa Barbara is no more special than any other place in America where anybody can buy a gun and use it whenever they feel disenchanted with their life.

As I drove to practice Saturday morning to get everything set up for our team’s arrival, I fought off the angry lump in my throat and sported my World’s Best Actress hat. This coach was not prepared to explain to thirty-five little ones why she had tears in her eyes, nor why something this atrocious could possibly happen AGAIN, and so close to home, especially since several of our Coyote parents are UCSB professors.

As I plastered on a fake smile when the kids arrived and looked at all the bright, and blissfully clueless faces sitting before me, all I could think about was how horribly we have failed, and continue to fail our kids.

How by not standing up to the NRA and all the greedy gun-lobbying bullies and politicians, and those who claim that it’s their “God-given right” to own assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons, we are showing these kids we do not care. We do not care if they are murdered at their preschools or elementary schools. We do not care if they are mowed down the week before they are supposed to graduate from college. We do not care if they’re scared to go to a movie theater or shopping mall because it no longer feels safe. We do not care if they’re terrified because their parents are teachers, principals or university professors.

As I moved through the motions of our team announcements and chirped on about our fabulous Runners of the Week and our Word of the Week, I was thankful that kids always have a way of making you operate in the present, whether you want to or not. It was soon impossible for me to think beyond the immediate circle of adorable-ness sitting before me, and certainly not beyond the workout ahead of us as I got peppered with question after question.

“Coach Becky, how far is the State Street Mile race we’re doing next week?”

“It’s called the State Street Mile,” I replied while trying not to laugh, “because it’s a 1-mile race.”

“Coach Becky, can you tie my shoe?”

“Coach Becky, guess what? I ran 7 miles this week!”

“Coach Becky, can we run on the pier? Pllllleeeeaaase?”

And so it went, an hour and fifteen minutes of kids being kids, runners being runners. Pure bliss.

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Photo of Coach Becky running with Coyotes on Goleta Beach pier

By the end of practice, my shoulders felt lighter and my heart felt full, but anger still simmered deep inside, knowing there will undoubtedly be another shooting…at least until we have the guts to take a stand and say, “NOT ONE MORE,” to show our kids that we value their lives and their futures far more than we value our freedom to own and wield a damn gun.

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26 thoughts on “For the Love of Kids, Not One More

  1. I keep hearing chris’ father say,”what about chris’ right to live?” I see those sweet faces of those kids in your post and I know we must do better.

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    • Our country’s paralysis over this issue is enough to make me cry from frustration. Throw in all these kids whom I adore, and it hits me right in the gut every time. Richard Martinez couldn’t be more right when he says, “You don’t think it will happen to your child. Until it does.” I have no doubt that this will happen again (unless we change something), and unfortunately, it will eventually be someone near and dear to us. Time for a change.

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    • Thanks Jayne. I hope one day soon this conversation becomes uplifting–about how we made a positive change for our kids instead of this ongoing cycle of tragedy, candlelight vigils, sorrow, then more of the same. Our kids and our country deserve better.

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  2. So perfectly expressed, Becky. That shawl of melancholy is something we all wear. Tonight at the movie theatre I was struck by a sign re: Costume Policy — the point being that they’re not allowed for reasons it doesn’t take too much to figure out. At least I saw a charming movie — ‘Chef’.

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  3. Hi Becky, I enjoyed so much reading your moving words and story. I’m also aching from hearing the news. Our children are too precious to deserve this.

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  4. Becky this is a GREAT post. Well thought out, from the heart, to the point and you probably would have the approval of more than half the people in this country who also say NOT ONE MORE. I encourage you to send it to newspaper editors across the county and ask that it be published in their “Op-Ed” sections. People need to stand up and make their voices heard. Why do we cower to the NRA? It’s up to us to tell representatives in Washington, D.C. that if they accept money from the NRA in exchange for votes or campaign contributions, we will vote them out of office because this is not the direction American’s want for OUR country. Every one of us who believes in this cause, need to call these people out by name and make them accountable for supporting gun rights. We must act now while the pain is in our hearts or it will be forgotten like Sandy Hook.

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    • Tamara, thank you for your kind words. I agree we must act now. I am in the process of making my voice heard in several different ways and hope others will join in too. It’s painfully clear that it’s way past time to make a change. Not One More.

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