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Given during the Winter Athletic Banquet

Caution: Pubic speaking may cause dizziness, loss of feeling in all limbs, hallucinations, blurred or loss of all peripheral vision, quickness of breath, fainting, loss of control of the bowels, vomiting, uncontrollable sweating, and potentially death. These are the symptoms that went through my mind when Mr. Pratt first asked me to do this speech. But being my competitive self, I decided to accept the challenge.

I was in first grade and it was my big moment to go show everyone my nasty figure skating skills. It was seven o’clock at night at the YMCA.  The smell of microwaved ramen noodles wafted through the air from the concession stand. My parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles all were there in the stands. And what was I wearing? I was wearing black velvet leggings, bumble bee wings and...a tutu. And don’t forget the green antennas. I was dreading the prospect of going out on that ice with all those people looking on as I did my little routine. That was me at age 7.

Let’s flash back a few more years before, to age three. I was “a big girl now.” I had the new responsibility of dressing myself. At this point in my life I decided that I was never going to wear a dress ever again...so you can imagine how wearing a tutu was making me feel. I was not prepared for this.

In figure skating, girls wear white skates and boys wear black skates. As the middle child I had the luxury of hand-me-downs, of course. But my sister’s skates were white and that was not going to cut it. So I took my sister's old skates and colored them in black with a Sharpie. My parents were not too thrilled about my coloring skills. But I simply refused to be associated with any colors that were considered girlie. The tutu was enough as it was.

I was just following in the footsteps of my older sister, who was a natural already, and to much of my frustration, many levels ahead of me in skating. Sibling rivalry was fueling my frustration.

I was envious of the hockey players who got on the ice after figure skating lessons on Saturday morning. So after that dreadful performance when I had to skate around like a bumble bee, I asked my parents if I could play ice hockey. To my pleasant surprise they fully endorsed the idea. I could now wear real black skates.

This new amazing world of contact sports was an eye-opener for me, so different from figure skating. You go fast all the time, you carry around a stick, and it’s okay to run into people. My first coach, Coach Mike, former marine sergeant, police officer, volunteer coach, and a great man, made my first years of hockey a trial-by-fire kind of experience. Sometimes I found the coach as exhilarating as actually playing. Sometimes he’d forget he was talking to 8-9 year olds, not newly enlisted Marine Corps recruits. His language was very colorful to say the least. This was much different than figure skating, but I was taking it all in.

I am from Jaffrey, New Hampshire, a small town about an hour away from here. I attended a small Catholic school from kindergarten to eighth grade with an enrollment of fewer than one hundred students. In my eighth grade year there were four people in my class including myself. We did not have enough students for any sports team other than one coed basketball team, for grades 5-8. Hockey was a life saver for a sport loving kid like me. I loved it, and I continued to play from second grade on.

At Northfield Mount Hermon my eyes were opened once more to this great world of competition, both on the playing fields and in the classroom. At the time I was not very interested in boarding school but because of my father’s urging and his love for his alma mater, I decided to go along with the process. I filled out the forms took some tests -- you know the drill.

One evening, the phone rings, my mom answers the phone and calls, “Camille, there’s someone on the phone for you.” This was already an odd situation to me because no one ever calls my house to talk to me. So who could be calling me? I put the phone to my ear and I hear, “Hi, this is Ted Kenyon from NMH; I’m the girl’s hockey coach.” In total panic, I held the phone out as far from my ear as possible, threw the phone to my dad and said “It’s for you.” Then I ran to my bedroom to hide. True story. I still to this day don’t know what my father said to Ted to salvage my reputation.

It was not until a couple months later that I became more comfortable with the idea of boarding school. In April, my older sister, Celia, and I decided to come to NMH. I never planned on leaving home for high school; the very idea of it was daunting. Coming from a school where it was impossible go to the bathroom for a break from class without being noticed, to a school of 650 plus students, was a big change for me. In August when I arrived at orientation, I was a wreck to say the least. I cried all the way from my house to the NMH. Considering the fact that I lived only 1 hour away and my new roommate was a 12 hour plane ride away from home, I still could not convince myself that I would be okay.

After about two weeks and the successful intramural dodge ball tournament, I was hooked; I recovered, and I was loving it. I was making new friends. My friendships were no longer restricted to the three other people in my class. I think I’m a terminal freshman at heart because I have lived in C5 for three of my four years here. Perhaps it’s precisely because I was such a fragile case when I first came here that I like working with the freshmen. But I’m moving on next year -- I’m going to be a freshman all over again.

I’ve come a long way in my four years here. I even wear dresses every once in a while but I don’t wear high heels because I have to leave something to achieve in college. I owe a lot to this place and to the many people who helped me along the way. I will be sad to leave. There are many things I still want to do and experience here. There are other sports I’d like to try. Maybe I’ll try out for senior dance company -- sorry Francesca and Diane.

We are so lucky to be here. We’ve been given a tremendous opportunity. And there are so many people around for support. And I’m grateful. It is the athletic banquet so I’d like to thank my coaches. Ted, Sam, and Sally, thanks for great season. I appreciate all you have done for us and regret that I will never know how much time and effort you put into the hockey program. We didn’t win as many as we wanted, but we were “in” every game. And Ted, thanks for not writing me off because of that first phone call.

Given the abundant support system we have here at NMH, it is hard to thank each individual who has encouraged and guided me throughout my four years.  Teammates, parents, generous alums, coaches, bus drivers, faculty, staff, dedicated fans, and everyone in between -- I can’t explain my gratitude. Although sports only take up a fraction of our lives here, they still have played a big role in assisting me in my growth and transition to who I am today, from that bumble bee figure skater, to  hockey, and finally to  lacrosse. And thanks to Tom Pratt for giving me this opportunity to speak, and to share some of my experiences with all of you my friends and fellow Hoggers. Sports have been a big part of my life here on the hill, and after reflecting on the past four years, I can’t help but smile.

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