I would love to hear from you……..
Having more time to reflect these days during my daily running routine, I often think about a variety pack of things. Some of the questions are being pondered by many of you as well I am sure. When will this pandemic end? When will things return to normal? When can we begin to transition back into regular life routines? Because we live in the present and plan and work towards the future, we often times forget to look back. Sure, a Facebook post may provide a momentary reminder of something which occurred on our timelines with a photo or similar memory. What I’m talking about is a reflection upon those things which may have profoundly impacted our lives, altered the pathway we were on or simply inspired us in a specific direction. Athletics did that for me and I’d like to tell you about it!
As I think of the title statement, I return to my roots in neighboring Gouverneur. I am sure that simply writing this fact will garner a stink-eye from the Golden Bears faithful! I can think of one such person as I write this who will undoubtedly call me “Wildcat” when I see him…..even though I’m closing in on thirty years now living in Canton. Growing up in Gouverneur and Section X was truly a blessing. The mentors which I had as a young boy were those adults which I related to. I suspect that every adult has a similar experience. I challenge you to think back to a person who you either looked up to, inspired you, or simply helped you find your way. I’m not talking about your parents….as we all know…our kids stop listening to mom and dad until about the time they become moms and dads and then realize….we are not as dumb as they once thought! Like many, I suspect there was another adult in your life. Perhaps it was a band or vocal instructor, “shop” teacher, “gym” teacher, counselor, “ag” teacher, health, math, science, language, history, or other teacher/person which helped you along your way. For me it was my coaches. I learned early on that my day truly started at 2:30. The fact of the matter is…. it still does.
Athletics has always been a driving force in my life. The statement above is not meant to undervalue the remaining hours of the instructional day whatsoever, because of course they are important. What I mean is that the time spent with sports every afternoon was the driving force for my motivation in the classroom. Without them in my life, I am not sure were I would be now. The constant reminders about getting homework in on time, doing things to the best of your ability, not getting behind, showing up on time, being prepared, being a team player, treating opponents with respect….I could go on and on. These reminders reinforced the values which my parents were working diligently to instill in me as well…..whenever I would listen. To me, time in front of coaches and teachers is needed because they are honest. The best ones tell us not what we want to hear, but what we need to hear. That process of understanding ones limitations and then working towards improvement or even mastery is the foundation for learning both on the field, diamond, rink, court, course, track, mat or in the pool and of course, in the classroom.
I’ve also been reflecting upon the importance of 2:30 pm each day in my life and how important sports were to my mood, attitude, and frankly my emotional well-being. I learned to work through an abundance of emotions such as the feeling of frustration when an official’s call didn’t go my way or my coach criticized me. I learned to pick my battles in terms of what items I would discuss or even argue about with my coach, an official or even a teammate. It also can’t be overstated that the emotional arousal experienced by a heated athletic contest, a competitive race or facing ones rival is so important to experience! It prepares one for adversity and the many challenges which life will bring. Very simply for me…. these are the moments often described as “living life to it’s fullest”!
Other fond memories I can recall were of practice sessions when something funny was said or done. I also recall the people which I shared them with and how they affected me both positively and negatively throughout the journey. There are so many stories of successful moments as well. There were small and large accomplishments both individually and within teams. I should add that each of them have aged, or have been embellished to be bigger and better than they actually were. Those moments and relationships which were fostered remain priceless to me.
The athletic travel opportunities which were afforded to me as I entered into my collegiate days gave me a better glimpse of the larger world beyond Section X. Suddenly the big fish wasn’t so big and life knocked a well needed dose of reality into me once again. I was also given my first opportunity to meet and become friends with many individuals who came from a variety of backgrounds, races, sexual orientations and ethnicities. My teammates were from rural areas, suburban sprawls and the inner city. Getting to know them and gain a deeper understanding of who they are and the challenges which they faced made me not only a better teammate, but I believe, increased my level of empathy as a person. All of these experiences have been impactful for me, however none of them more important to me than one. Without sports in my life, I would never have met my wife and started a family. As one may suspect……. we met at a basketball game.
This pandemic has certainly shaken things up and despite our best efforts, I feel as if we are failing our students and athletes in many ways. What I am hoping for beyond a quick return to normal is to gain a better understanding of what you are going through at this time. My purpose for writing this article is to hear what athletics means to you or what you are missing most by not being able to play sports yet. I do emphasize the word “yet” because we will one day get back to work. Although none of really knows when this will happen, it will happen. If you felt so inclined to send me your thoughts, we may be better equipped to help you and others manage this journey. Please send write-ups to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you all for your continued support of all co-curricular experiences and as always………GO BEARS!!
William Porter, CCS Director of Athletics