As I spent time strolling through countless graduation items on various social media platforms, I began to feel some sort of way. For a coach, teacher, mentor, or reporter, it's a joyous time to see your pupils reach a critical milestone in their journey. Not many of us who are fortunate enough to have an impact on young folk's lives count the actual number of kids. Personally, I'm often saddened to see great young people move on. Sometimes we don't realize those who cross our paths as freshmen or their entry date into our lives actually make us better individuals. We all just go to work and craft out quality young people without realizing it.
For me, I know that coaching track and field is a long season process that often begins right around the holiday season and does not end until late into spring. Sometimes we are able to reach our milestones and other times we come up short. But what I adore most consistently are the kid's ability to prioritize important things in their lives such as college placement exams, college applications, college visits, prom, extra-curricular activities, and of course track & field.
Now that the season would be waning down, families and the senior student-athletes are preparing and/or graduating from their respective institutions. There is nothing more exciting than seeing families and friends be included in the process.
On the personal side of the game, I have two high school graduates in my family. Though my daughter and son were not student-athletes at Oak Park-River Forest and Evanston Township High Schools respectively, it was delightful for me as a father to track their progress (good and not so good at times) throughout the four years. I know I had to lead by example on both fronts, but especially more in the dad role. It required going to report card pick up, attending parent-teacher conferences, signing off on school projects, and/or giving my children the green light to attend social functions with their school friends.
I know that I was the happiest parent on graduation day in 2012 and 2018. I am looking forward to one more in another decade. In the meantime, I want to congratulate the class of 2020 on their fine achievements and the best wishes in the future!