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Class of 2019: Taisho Miller

By: Mr. Dashiell Quasebarth, Middle School History Teacher and Varsity Cross Country, Track/Field Coach
The starter’s pistol went off, and Taisho Miller started his final race as a member of a team at Cape Henry Collegiate. With a smile on his face, he used his first lap of the mile to think back on the memories of his time at Cape Henry and how his time here has prepared him to head to Hampden-Sydney in the fall.

Taisho broke down Upper School with the step-by-step view he has learned to approach the mile with when he steps onto the track. In the walls of Cape Henry and on tracks through the Tidewater area: “I learned to have fun, work hard, make new friends, and manage my time wisely.”
Lap 1: “The first lap is easy.”

“Freshman year is a transition year where things are usually pretty easy and you feel good.” The first lap of the mile is very similar, you feel great when you are only 25% into the race and you are making friends. Runners tend to use their first lap to size everyone up around them. You learn about your competition, the runners you can lean on for support, and where you fit into the fold of the race. While it may be easy, you also take your lumps.
“I remember the coaches had me try the long jump with no coaching. The meet was at CNU, and there were two kids that would go on to the Junior Olympics. I scratched every time but I knew that because I hadn’t trained for it, it comes with the territory.” And with that, Taisho learned that he had to prepare to experience the success he was looking for down the line.
Lap 2: Things “move a little quicker.”

In the mile, the second lap starts to sort out the haves from the have-nots. Those who started too quickly are quickly exposed, and those who ran smart, start to settle into their race. The fun starts to fade away as your heart begins to labor and your legs turn over relentlessly. It’s not that it isn’t fun, but it’s a different kind of fun. Taisho explained the connection with Lap 2 to his sophomore year: he had more experience so he was ready to race, but he was still learning who was in the race with him.
“My coaches made it so running was first, but fun.” During his sophomore year, Taisho applied the same attitude towards his classwork and relationships knowing that each required work but he would also have fun. One thing Taisho continually mentions is how Cape Henry became his family. “Because of the small population at Cape Henry, you get to know people on a different level than somewhere else.” Those close relationships influenced his decision to attend Hampden-Sydney where he saw teachers “who will know my name, strengths, and weaknesses.”
Lap 3: “The sucky lap, because you’re not done.”

In the mile, the third lap starts to burn. Your legs are starting to scream for oxygen and you cannot wait for the finish line, but you won’t hear the bell to signal the final lap. This is often where you start to question how you ended up in the predicament in the first place.
Taisho talks about how he is thankful for his parents and their decision to send him to Cape Henry initially over his misgivings. “My parents got me to Cape Henry despite my objections. I didn’t want to go here at all. But now I am more prepared for college.” From the earliest years at Cape Henry, his teachers saw his potential even when he did not. His second-grade teacher, Mrs. Hagadorn, first saw that he may have a future running and encouraged him to give it a shot. “I thought she was nuts.” However, that foresight from his teachers carried him into the sport that would define his teenage years. In Middle School, Mrs. Mason “pushed me very hard.” His grade in Geography was low, and Mrs. Mason told him that she expected it to be nearly 30 points higher. Taisho recalls, “It was hard to hear, but I knew I needed to step up.”
Lap 4: “Go out with a bang. Go have fun.”

In the final lap of the mile, you’ve experienced the pain, but you have heard the bell that signals this will all be over soon. You have to race, chasing your goals of place and time. And as much as you’ve gone through over the past 4 to 5 minutes, the final lap is fun.
As Taisho looks to the future, he speaks of happiness and fun, all while balanced against opportunity. Taisho loves history. He memorized the full text of the Declaration of Independence during his junior year. Taisho chose Hampden-Sydney because of its history. “It’s older than our nation!” But that love of history will not influence his major because he is focused on his future happiness and opportunity. He is excited to major in Biology or Pre-Med in school because he wants a job where he can “be happy, not in a cubicle all day, being sad, typing away.” He is especially grateful to Dr. Grant who “took me under his wing to learn about being a podiatrist.” Hampden-Sydney will help him work towards his goals in the medical field by offering students the opportunity to apply to medical school during their sophomore year.
The Finish Line:
With Taisho just steps away from the finish line of the final race of his upper school career, I watch teammates and friends look to him with admiration. I watch his parents smile as they celebrate their son’s final race after driving endless hours to countless Cross Country and Track meets throughout the last 4 years. They are probably secretly thankful for Taisho’s only regret from his time at Cape Henry: “That I didn’t start running earlier.”

Taisho’s parents drove him here for the first time in first grade and so completing all 12 years of his education at Cape Henry, Taisho will go down as a legend. He has served as a great mentor to many of his running partners and continues to offer three bits of advice as he winds down the race that is Upper School: “Have fun, let this school push you to do the best,” and the final one comes out with a gasp of exasperation, “Listen to your teachers.”

In staying true to the themes that defined the last four years, Taisho leaves me with a final thought before walking off to help a teammate get loose before his race, “I don’t know what my college life is going to be like, but I will want to have fun, study hard, and reach out to as many opportunities as I can. And stay in shape.”
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