Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Daughters of My Alma Mater

In the interests of full disclosure, it happened to me some time ago. If we live long enough, it happens to all of us. We reach the point in our life at which we can no longer attribute the emergence of wrinkles around our eyes and gray hair in our temples to a lighting effect. A tell-tale sign of aging occurs when we "mature" to the point where there is not a single student matriculating his/her way through the halls of our high school who had yet been born at the time we graduated.

My class is twenty-five years out in June '10 so we passed the point of no return several years ago (Hell, I hope we did anyway as I would hate to think there was a twenty-something student roaming the Inman Avenue campus trying to master the intricacies of Mr. Howard's calculus class). There is an ever-growing level of institutional disconnect - I think - as we age and have a greater and greater separation both spatially and emotionally from where we went to school and those with whom we attended. For me, the advent of "social networking" on-line has slowed that process perceptibly. I have been able - over the course of the past year to eighteen months - to reconnect with a number of faces I had not seen in more than two decades. To the credit of many of them - and to the chagrin of yours truly - a lot of them appear to have aged ten minutes in twenty-five years.

Perhaps it is that element of it - the social networking - that has reopened the portal in my mind's eye back to that place and to that moment of time. It may be as well the fact that I know that I shall be on campus this year for Homecoming since that afternoon my sister Jill will be enshrined (or inducted - I must admit I never know which is which or if the terms are interchangeable) into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame. For whatever reason, I have been paying a bit more attention to the happenings there than I usually do.

And I am glad that I have been. For had I not, I would not have read about the exploits of Head Coach Jackie MacLean and her Girls' Varsity Soccer Team. On the field they appear to be holding their own. I checked out the school's web site last night and as of that date the team was playing .500 soccer. Their success, however, is not confined to the pitch on which they play.

On September 27th Coach MacLean and her charges participated in the 8th Annual Tunnel to Towers 5K. Not only did the coach and her players take part in the 5K run, the team contributed $1,000 to participate in the race. Coach MacLean organized their participation and in spite of some rather ugly, cold and rainy weather on that final Sunday of September, participate they did. Coach MacLean calls the Tunnel to Towers 5K, "an outstanding, memorable, life-changing community service event which honors all of those who lost their lives on September 11, especially the first responders." Well said.

Then, this past Friday the young ladies of soccer (a sport that did not exist twenty-five years ago when I attended W-H. Further proof of the fact that Dylan was right - Jill was first-team All-State in field hockey and lacrosse in high school, two sports in which the school has not fielded a team in a number of years) participated in Denim Day. Denim Day is a fundraising event sponsored by Lee Jeans as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month wherein people in businesses all around the country pay $5.00 for the right to wear blue jeans to work in lieu of more formal attire. The girls' soccer team had a bake sale to raise money for the cause and - for good measure - a game that afternoon. In furtherance of their efforts to help this great cause, the girls played their Friday afternoon game adorned in special "pink ribbon" jerseys. Apparently it is not only real men who wear pink but real soccer players as well. The girls defeated the Ranney School 5-0.

A good high school coach - regardless of the sport - is an adult who imparts to her/his players not only the wisdom needed to be as successful as those players can be on the field but also the wisdom those players need to be successful once their days of glory are receding from view in the rear-view mirror. Jackie MacLean appears to fit the bill. Kudos to her and to her girls for a job well-done. Here's to hoping that they continue to experience success on the field as well.

-AK

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