I ran in to my high school coach today in the hall at the college where I work. I was engrossed in conversation with a colleague, and never expected my coach from thirty years ago to be there. As this spry woman was walking past us, I caught a glimpse of her and said, “Majka?” and she looked at me, because I’m sure she was thinking the same thing, “Why would Hemmes be in this hallway?”
We greeted each other with a big bear hug, and not enough time to catch up. She was headed one way, and I another. I told her where my office was, and asked her to stop in one day to visit or stop by for lunch.
It was this woman who used to yell from the other side of the track, “KICK IT HEMMES” when I was on the last 200 meters of the grueling 800 meter race. I heard her yelling these very words every race in my senior year.
For some reason people in sports typically called each other by their last names. Hers was Prumo, and in my head I still think of her as Prumo, even though I know she’s been married for at least 25 years now and her last name is Majka. She’s the one who brought our school out of the gymnastics era and into the Title IX era, where we had teams of girls playing soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball and track. She’s the one who mentored us to become what we are today.
We learned so many skills playing sports and being coached by Prumo. She was more about the hustle and less about the skill. Of course if you had both, that was great. Prumo was always looking for those who would work together and form the perfect team.
The “KICK IT HEMMES” helped me when I was young, just as it helped me when I really needed it. I don’t know if I can tell you a particular time when I heard her yelling in my head during my chemo treatments. I think whenever it got difficult, she was there yelling. Maybe it was on my fourth chemo treatment and I was sicker than a dog and vomiting like I have never vomited before. I heard her yelling “KICK IT HEMMES!” Or maybe it was during the 12 weekly chemos that I had to go through and just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore – I’d hear her voice.
I don’t know if she knows how much I appreciate all that she did for me when I was in school. She helped me apply to college, helped me get a soccer scholarship, and even gave me a job coaching JV soccer when I graduated from college.
But I really think she helped me make it past anything that was difficult in my life with three simple words yelled at the top of her lungs. “KICK IT HEMMES!”
So all I can respond is with a “THANK YOU PRUMO!”