Untold Stories: How Sharing Stories Builds Our Community and Sport

Zach Miller examines how our stories can be a gift to others.

By on April 19, 2024 | Comments

A few years back, I listened to a woman speak about the importance of sharing stories. Her presentation was targeted at a group of athletes, and in it, she shared a story involving her son, a trampoline accident, and a mohawk. As I type this, I’m trying to remember the point of that story. I think it may have had something to do with self-confidence. Whatever the point, her reason for telling it was to show us, athletes, the importance of sharing stories.

I remember leaving the presentation feeling a bit conflicted. On one hand, I could see what she was saying and could agree that there are times when stories ought to be told. Yet at the same time, something about her message bothered me. She spoke as if sharing stories was some sort of moral obligation that every human ought to adhere to. To be frank, I thought it sounded dumb.

Zach Miller making donuts in bus

Sharing stories, either through words or photos, can be an amazing gift we give to others. All photos by Peter Maksimow.

A lot of time has passed since I listened to that presentation. Back then, I made no big life changes after hearing it. Then one day I texted my buddy Peter Maksimow to see if he had some pictures I was looking for. He sent a multitude. Some, maybe all, were images I had never seen. There were some really good ones, images capturing and inciting feelings and emotions. A couple in particular made me smile.

They were like stories penned but never shared. Peter commented that he likely has so many photos that no one has ever seen. To me, it seemed a shame and my mind went back to that presentation I didn’t really like. Was the woman right after all? Is it some sort of civic duty that we have to share our stories? I still think not, but I do recognize that the world is sometimes a better place when we do.

Zach Miller making donuts

Whether there’s a moral to a story or it’s just one that leads to a smile, it’s worth telling.

When I was in school, and still relatively new to running, I loved listening to stories about running. Oftentimes they came from my coaches and were tales of yesteryear stories of young men, hard work, and fast times. I listened intently and found inspiration in them.

Some of the stories were quite commonplace, nothing more than a recollection of running to school for extra training. Others were rather extraordinary, like tales of racing Frank Shorter. And yet, they all seemed to fuel my fire for running.

As a young runner, I was fortunate to have people in my life who were willing to share their stories. Whether they knew it or not, their stories fanned the flame of a fire that would forever change my life. And while I still don’t feel that sharing one’s stories is some sort of civic obligation, I do feel that it is a beautiful gift that, at the right time and place, we can bestow upon someone else.

Eating Zach Miller donuts

Stories, as well as donuts, are worth sharing.

Peter’s hard drive may be filled with photos no one has seen. Your brain is likely teeming with stories you’ve never told. Some of these need not see the light of day. They are happy to live right where they are, tucked away safe and sound on some dusty shelf. But, many of them have value that won’t be fully recognized if not shared. These are the stories I encourage you to pick up and make use of. Who knows where they might lead?

Call for Comments

  • Do you tend to share your stories, or do you prefer to keep them to yourself?
  • Are you someone who seeks out stories for inspiration?
Zach Miller
Zach Miller lives in a school bus he outfitted himself. He competes for The North Face and Team Colorado. Additional sponsors/supporters include Clean-N-Jerky, GU Energy Labs, and Nathan Sports. Follow him on Instagram.