Very few cyclists ever have the opportunity to become National Champions or even to know one. Very few clubs get to enjoy the honor of claiming a National Champion as one of their own. For those athletes who are able to bring home a “Stars ‘n Stripes” jersey and the clubs they bring them home to, life can never be quite the same.
There is no such thing as an “Easy” National Championship: the competition is always hard. The only athlete who is able to win “Easy” is one who has worked harder than anybody else to get to the Nationals in the first place. A National Championship brings honor not only to the athlete but to friends, family and community. The athlete’s drive to excellence makes all of us a little better and a little prouder.
Aurilla Lesley is ours. She is our friend. She is a fellow club member who came to cycling as a tourist, not a racer. Many of us still remember her “Valley of The Refrigerators” Tour and her stories of cross country ride adventures.
But somewhere along the way, Aurilla got bitten by the excellence bug, began to set goals and work toward them. Don’t listen to Aurilla when she says that she hasn’t done that much: she has worked toward various goals for three solid years. She attended classes, she worked with coaches, but most of all, she worked. While others slept in, Aurilla was out on the roads of eastern Jefferson County training. When others backed off and “cheated” on their training schedules, Aurilla did exactly what her coaches asked of her. Aurilla trained, she worked and she learned from others.
Now, Aurilla owns a boatload of medals and trophies. She is “our” National Champion. Aurilla’s name is in the record books. She dared to dream, she worked to realize that dream and she won it all. She gets to wear her “Stars ‘n Stripes” jerseys for one year before she is required to pack them away. If she wants to continue wearing a Stars and Stripes jersey in 1997, Aurilla will be required to go back to “The Natz” in 1996 and do it all again.
I hope that Aurilla will wear her jerseys a lot in 1996. Standing next to her is as close as many of us will ever get to a National Championship. Aurilla is our friend and our teammate and we hope that a little of her pride and her drive to excellence will reflect on us as well. I hope that I speak for the entire club when I say, “Well done, Aurilla”.
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