Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Tale of the Tiger

It had been twenty-five years or so since Kara, Jill and I had been on campus at our high school Alma mater together. For that reason alone, from my wholly selfish perspective (as if I ever view the world from a perspective other than that right?) last night was something special. Sure, I could have lived without the monsoon but then again how often does one see three squirrels playing rock, paper & scissors for seats on Noah's big boat.

Last night Jill joined a group in which her place was earned more than twenty-five years ago. She was enshrined in the Wardlaw-Hartridge School Athletic Hall-of-Fame. At last night's ceremony she was joined in the Class of 2009 by a young woman named Valerie Pate - a member of the class of '92 whose prowess clearly extends beyond all things athletic. Valerie was introduced last night as "Dr." Valerie Pate, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Maryland. The 1975 Boys Soccer team, which is the only boys soccer team in the school's history to win outright the state championship. was enshrined as well. It was interesting to me to watch the members of that team, all now men in their 50's interact with one another. They were apparently a fairly close-knit team and their bond has clearly not been broken.

Among the other honorees last night was a man who I have had the pleasure of knowing since he and I first tormented each other on the soccer field when I was a 9th grader. Howard Freeman recently retired from W-H, an institution that had been graced by his presence for almost 40 years. He was the coach of the 1975 State Champions and he was - slightly less than a decade later - my head coach. He was passionate about the game and was an excellent teacher of it. I hope that his retirement is a long and enjoyable one. He and his lovely wife have certainly earned it - having spent a lifetime in the service of others.

It was wonderful last evening to see a number of old friends - including those who I had not seen since we were all kids. Ah, those halcyon days of life before I had laugh lines etched into my face like stone and gray hair overrunning my beard and my hair. It was quite nice to hear more than a few of them say that they had come to campus - in the case of more than one of them for the first time in a lifetime - because they wanted to be present to see Jill get honored.

And weather notwithstanding, it was simply a wonderful evening. Kudos to the folks who are in charge of such things at W-H these days including Bill Jenkins, Rudy Brandl and Rob Rizzo. A place that people like me only view as a place to which we pay an occasional visit is a place that is in their blood and in their bones every day. And W-H is well-served by the passion that they bring to what they do and the compassion with which they do it.

-AK

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