About Laura & THE CAUSE
High School athletics has always been a huge part of my life. I ran Varsity High School cross country and track for 17 straight seasons. I went on to compete at two Division 1 colleges at UNC-Chapel Hill and SUNY Albany on full scholarship. It changed my life significantly. I immediately returned to high school athletics and started coaching at Manhasset I stayed there for five years before going to Calhoun where I am currently on my third year. I have taken a year off here or there but always find my way back to it. I lived it and breathed it as an athlete and I still do as a coach.
I won league and county and state and national championships. I was the anchor leg of a relay that held a national record. For me- I loved the competition, I loved the self-discipline and I loved winning.
When my dad passed away in 2018 my high school coach was one of the first people at my doorstep. Aside from my parents, nobody has ever done as much for me as he has. He is a huge reason why I coach.
When I transitioned from student-athlete to coach I realized that for a lot of kids, high school sports brings something else entirely than it did for me.
For some kids it is as simple as their love of the sport and for others it is an escape. Some kids use it as a resume builder, and others do it because their friends join. A few do it because they view their coaches as role models and a lot do it because they love their teammates. For some kids, sports are an outlet from home or an outlet from academics. A few will get a cheap or free college education out of it but most won’t. Some take it so serious they cry or yell when they lose. Some could care less about that part.
High school sports brings all different kinds of kids together. They learn to work together and win together and lose together. Most importantly, they get to build memories together. I took it personal when COVID 19 stole those memories from my athletes, from my younger cousins and from all the student-athletes on Long Island.
I am doing this FOR all Long Island high school athletes in HONOR of my dad, John Cummings, who passed away in 2018. My dad had the biggest influence on my athletic career.
Growing up he went to every one of single softball games, swim meets, and gymnastics practices. He went to the bus stop an hour early with me to pitch. He took my first run with me when I decided to join cross country. He went to all of my brothers wrestling meets and practices. He went with my brother and cousin to wrestling camps in Iowa. My brother went on to become a county champion in wrestling, a state runner up and D1 athlete. He drove or flew with us to every single state in the continental United States. I still do not know how, but I think he came to almost every college meet when I was in North Carolina. He went upstate to watch a co-workers kid play soccer and went to middle school football games for other co-workers. He went to all of my friend’s professional UFC fights and my little cousin’s youth soccer and lacrosse games. My dad did not miss a beat.
Even after serving in the NYPD for almost half of his life, and running towards some of the most traumatic events in recent history, he went back to school to become a radiation therapist.
His passion to help those around him was limitless...
The thing that always stood out was that he was never NOT there for us. By us- I mean me and my brother, my 50 plus cousins, his friend’s kids, his co-workers kids and anyone else he just felt like helping.
He paid for private lessons for high school kids, he paid for dinners, he drove everyone EVERYWHERE. I cried on HIS shoulder when I lost and I looked for HIS face in the crowd when I won. When my dad passed away in March of 2018 just four months after losing my loving boyfriend I turned to the one thing I knew could save me- my sport. I ran my way to an Olympic Trials qualifier time in the marathon and onto a Spartan Pro Team. In high school – I competed because I loved winning.
I compete now because that is when I feel closest to my dad. I know he would not miss it. In my heart and in my soul- he still shows up.