This is graduation week on the campus of St Johnsbury Academy. It is both a happy time and a sad time. It is also a beginning and an end. Perhaps I am a glass-half-full kind of guy, but I choose to look at graduation as a happy time and a new beginning. Some of our graduates will begin service to our country, some will start their vocation, and others will begin a path towards their next graduation. Emotions soar as graduation caps are thrown skyward, and seemingly just as fast, they fall to Earth reminding us there is a road ahead beckoning us to come and see what’s next…
The root of the word graduation is from the Latin word “grad” which means “step.” Graduation is just another step in their lives. The term commencement refers to the actual graduation ceremony, but the word commencement comes from the stem “commence” which means to “begin.” It is the beginning of the next step in their lives, or new chapters, opportunities, and journeys. While there is certainly recognition for successes of the recent past, the focus is on the untapped potential available in the not-too-distant future.
As their teachers, coaches, and mentors, we know we only have four short years to make an impact on their lives before they move on to their next chapter(s). We trust the lessons they learn on the fields, in the classrooms, and on-campus, coupled with the friendships they forged will make them better members of their communities. We hope those little “inoculations” against fear and loss will serve them well in the face of life’s more daunting challenges. As noted in last week’s blog we occasionally have the opportunity to celebrate those who have embarked on Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, “wrestled dragons,” and returned proving their transformation. Many more ripple outward serving as “Good Samaritans” in ways we may never know, but still appreciate.
Unlike parents who become “empty nesters” as children graduate and move on, coaches look to the depth chart and find new student-athletes replenishing the nest. The 8th graders of 2022 graduate providing us with another group of young men and women craving pride in belonging and role models as examples. I am happy for the seniors who move on, proud of who they are today, of their evolution in our program, and for having the privilege to contribute to the process. Concurrently, I look forward to the new season, the new faces, the continuing evolution of our players, team, and culture, and the opportunity yet again to commence team building and take steps toward who they and we will become together… to build upon the legacy of what it means to be a Hilltopper, and to remember, “Tradition Never Graduates!”
Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at firstname.lastname@example.org and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time!