I’ve written often about my support for team sports, and its relevance in the development and education of its participants. There is no deeper connection, except perhaps, the camaraderie on the battlefield, that engenders lifetime connections like competitive athletics. It is not just the hours spent during an intense competition, but the shared intensity of training that knits bonds that will last a lifetime. The life of an elite athlete, which is who these young Division One student-athletes are, is a shared experience. It melds into a community that can last a lifetime.
I receive from time to time, email from past and present field hockey Leopards, letting me know what they are up to and I thought I might share this with my readers ( with their permission).These are examples of how lifetime connections develop and flourish. It demonstrates how those connections can continue not only after a completed season, but after graduation.
I suppose it all begins during the recruiting period. Official visits are usually timed to coincide with games and allows the prospective teammates to begin that lifetime bonding process, not only with their classmates but with the team with whom they will be spending training hours on and off the field. There is no group on campus with which they will interact and depend on more than their teammates.
Several days ago I received an email from junior forward Rosie Shanks as she was about to leave for the USA from her home in Scotland. She reflected on her wonderful time at home with family and friends. Rosie emphasized she has been training hard and recounted that in the games she played in at home, she had scored in every game. She opined on the different style of play, and how interesting it was to experience both hockey cultures. Rosie used her time to also complete her level one coaching certification, while also coaching at her old Club, Clydesdale, with 120 children ranging from 5 to 15. She loves coaching and is considering becoming a coach after graduation, perhaps even coaching in the US.
The highlight of the summer was a visit with a friend in Paris who is studying art after which Rosie traveled to Ireland to meet up with teammate Meg Lillis. The two had adventures in Dublin and later returned returned to Scotland for a few days. Rosie was able to show Meg, Edinburgh and on another day Inveraray Castle in Argyll before Meg had to rerun to Ireland to complete her internship.
Part of maturing and growing is to expand your connections. Those connections endure after leaving the playing field for the last time. Earlier in the summer I received an email from Megan Cicchi ’11 who was an all league and region all american at Lafayette graduating with a degree in Chemistry after only 3 1/2 years. She was obviously a terrific athlete, and given her intelligence and ambition destined for great things. Megan is working in her field and still is connecting to field hockey as a volunteer commissioner for her club team. Her brother is on the US under 21 team and recently selected for the US team. She has managed to stay connected with her teammates as well. Megan and Bridget Hilbig also a teammate and classmate from the class of ’10, make it a point to go backpacking at least once year. At the time of her email, they were preparing for an 8 day trip to Iceland. Bridget recently received her PhD and one year of post-doc. and will start teaching at a small California college this fall.
Finally, the connections are made even to those who were not teammates. but share the experience of playing hockey at Lafayette. This fall, the current team and alumni shared a moment to support Emily Goldman Garibaldi’07 and her husband Peter. Their two year old daughter had succumbed to a terminal illness. As Emily and Peter stood surrounded by Emily’s teammates, one former teammate remarked how she had given her daughter the middle name Lucille, after Emily’s little girl. Her short life was remembered in a dedication on October 24. It was a remarkable ceremony as current teammates and alumni teammates stood in support and dedicated a tree at the playing field they shared during their stay at Lafayette. The dedication reads, “In loving memory of Lucille Elizabeth Garibaldi, daughter of Emily Goldman Garibaldi ’07 and Pete Garibaldi.” The message finishes,” The legacy is really the lives we touch, the inspiration we give.”
Those that say athletics is just about the game… are wrong!