Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Twenty Five Years From Now

In my opening convocation to the faculty and staff this year I articulated the idea of legacy. In those remarks I spoke of the time capsule we buried and our intention to have it opened some 50 years from now. Certainly this was a great 'hook' for a legacy speech. But more importantly, intertwined throughout my address were rhetorical questions posed to those assembled, "How do you wish to be remembered?" My emphasis was placed on the fact that it is likely 'through the little things' that youngsters who become adults will recall decades from now. Undoubtedly we hope the memories created are from positive experiences and interactions we have with our students. Yet, at this point in our lives and career, we never really know, do we? But maybe, just maybe it will be a time when you reached out with a hand to help; a simple gesture. Indeed, the allure to this inquiry lies with our inability to see into a crystal ball. But what if we could?

I submit examples are all around us, and frankly are easy to spot. On the evening of January 5th, we hosted what was a routine wintertime event at Hudson: basketball games (or in our parlance a 'quad'). These evenings typically bring out large crowds because not only do we host a varsity double header, but the junior varsity teams play as well. On this cold January evening, we had an even larger crowd on hand, and at the time I assumed it was simply because it was after the holidays and people were looking for something fun to do. 

But that is not all there was to it. You see, on that night we honored the 1993 Hudson boys basketball team on the 25th anniversary of their historic state championship run. While it was fun to bring these men back to their school and introduce them to the crowd during halftime of the boys game, the true significance of that evening was lost on me. It wasn't until I read the 'Soo Line' last week that it really sunk in. You see, as great as that basketball team was, and as memorable as winning a state title is for a community, that evening wasn't about basketball. It was instead, about the legacy of a coach who united a team to overcome insurmountable odds and win a championship. But again, it was (and is) not really about basketball. In Soo's article she asks each of the players to do two things. First, what are they doing now; and second, what are their memories from that season. The first takeaway was that each of these men are incredibly successful in their chosen fields, all with college degrees, several with advanced degrees, and two with terminal (doctor) degrees. That in and of itself should be a source of great pride for our school district and community! Secondly, and even more important was the impact Coach Dober had on these young men. Each spoke eloquently about the philosophy of coach, his spirit, demeanor, and the way in which he inspired his team to do their very best. It was evident from these reflections that Coach Dober loved his players, and they loved him. Not only did Coach guide this team to a state title in 1993, he taught them valuable lessons that helped turn them into the successful men they are today.

Hopefully each one of us can recall a teacher or coach who had a positive impact on us as youth. Perhaps it was that extra encouragement you needed before a big test, game, or performance. Now, year's later you can smile when you remember that time in your life. For me, it was senior year in high school and I was auditioning for the Iowa All-State Chorus. This was my last shot, and each previous year I came up short. Resigned to the fact that I was probably going to come up short again, my teacher encouraged me, worked with me, and believed in me. In the end, I made the choir, and that achievement served as the catapult to where I find myself today. I wanted to someday have that same kind of impact on students that my teacher had on me.

I'm not a whole lot older than the men who made up the 1993 state title team, but the similarities in the trajectories of our lives are similar. It was a coach and a teacher who created a spark. That is how a legacy is created.

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