Feb. 13, 2013
For a group of athletes whose utmost measure of success is time, there is one place where time has no consequence: Mertz. Lakeshore Dining is the post-practice destination where the LUXC/TF Teams make the most of our $9.00 all-you-can-eat meals. One of our biggest selling points when we have prospective student-athletes on campus is our team dinners. Every night we pour into Mertz in dozens and monopolize as much of the dining hall as possible.
For the next hour (or two) we share a meal and stories from our day or from Mertz dinners of the past with one another. It is a unique time because it is one where the sprinters, throwers, distance runners and jumpers all can be in one place, which is never the case with our practice times. For a sport that has such an individual component, this is the time where we can build relationships among teammates and move toward our common team goals without speaking a word of track and field.
My favorite part of dinners in Mertz, mainly due to my competitive nature, is winning. This is a part of Mertz dinners that most people do not know much about. It is an unspoken battle. It is a test of will. It is a battle of attrition. It is a competition where the last man standing (or last table sitting) is the winner. It is so intense that you don't even know you are winning until its 7:45pm (the doors close at 7) and Joyce, the lovely worker who knows you by name because you've had every dinner there since the first day of freshman year, starts cleaning off your table while you are still conversing with the rest of the team. You look up and see every table empty but one. It is yours. You've won Mertz.
I do fear that letting this be known to the world may make the game of winning Mertz a more difficult task, but I'm up for the challenge. I'm well into the double digits in my win column this year and I don't think that anyone can dream to challenge me for the record, except for a few experienced fourth or fifth-year teammates.
Some of my fondest memories of my four years aren't on the track or in the classroom, but the place where I eat. It is in Mertz that I find a home away from home. I sit and eat with my team, my family, and build the relationships that have made my time at Loyola so remarkable.