The first time I pulled on an NMH uniform was as the batboy for the varsity baseball team, when I was 10 years old. The joy and pride I felt from buttoning up the maroon, number 2 jersey, which hung down below my knees, is unforgettable. Standing beside Jim Shea, waiting for my moment of glory when I would run onto the field to pick up a bat, I felt like I was a part of the team. I bonded with the players and appreciated that they treated me like one of their teammates. I especially got to know the players who spent a lot of time with me on the bench. They talked to me, asking me about my Little League team, and they made me feel like they were enthusiastic and grateful for my presence and my role on the team. Now, eight years later, I still chase down foul balls behind the NMH bench on McLamore. Each time I go after one, I think about the journey I have taken as an athlete, from that little kid eagerly running after foul balls and dreaming of one day stepping on the field for NMH, to achieving that dream last spring in my first varsity baseball game.
My love of athletics goes back even beyond my days as a batboy, to when I was a toddler at the NMH Nursery School. I attended the Nursery School along with many of my current classmates at NMH, including Anna Messer, Ellen Arena, Celine DeLa Cruz, Finn Tierney, and Simon van Baaren. Any adults here who knew me as a child can attest to the fact that I would latch onto an interest in an all-consuming way. So it was no surprise that when I fell in love with soccer, I insisted upon wearing soccer uniforms, complete with shin guards, to Nursery School every single day. Much to my dismay, this habit was ended when the teachers told my mom to leave the shin guards at home, because it took way too long to get me dressed for recess.
My parents have been involved in all my athletic endeavors, constantly supporting me, and even coaching me. I am often asked now, “How is it having your dad as your coach?” I always answer, I think often to people’s surprise, that it is awesome and really it isn’t much of a change because he has been coaching me since I was 2 years old, skiing in our yard behind Wallace.
As I got older, my dad coached my first team, the Gila Monsters, which was the rec soccer team out of Gill. With an all-star lineup including Patterson Malcolm, Dom Poulsen, Finn Tierney, Simon van Baaren, and me, our team was unstoppable in the world of Franklin County rec soccer.
Next, my dad and Charlie Malcolm founded the Connecticut River Valley Soccer League and the Mount Hermon Wolves soccer club. This league was important to my experience with NMH athletics, because not only was I playing on NMH’s lower fields every Sunday, but I got to know the NMH soccer players who refereed our games. I looked up to them, and wanted to be like them when I came to NMH.
At the same time that I was playing for the Wolves, I also ran the lines as a ball boy for the boys’ varsity soccer games. In 2010, a group of faculty children ran the lines for every home game that season. That team made it to the New England Class A championship, so it was an exciting year to be watching, and I had a front-row spot on the sideline. I followed the team all the way to the finals, and watched from the sideline in front of the Kent bench as Diego Medina scored the game winner with four and a half minutes remaining in the second overtime to secure NMH’s sixth New England Championship.
Watching them play and compete hard to win games on Saturdays inspired me to play well in my Wolves games on Sundays. And like my experience with baseball, I dreamed of wearing the Hogger blue and representing NMH on Peller Family Field. This fall I have had the chance to do so. After playing on JV for three years, finally being a part of the varsity team has been a dream come true for me, and for the little kid who watched every game growing up, waiting for the chance to step onto that field.
However, you could say I fell short of my dream, which as a little kid was to play center back for the NMH varsity team, because the only time that came true was when we were beating Vermont Academy 5-0. On the other hand, I would argue I achieved something just as important as a starting position on the field. I became a member of the team, and I had a role on that team. Each and every one of you has a role on your team. Some of you may know your role and be happy with it, while others may wish you had a different role. But whatever your role may be, it is up to you to find value in it. Some players are the obvious stars of the team, while others ride the bench, but everyone is a part of that same team. Maybe I can’t have the same direct impact on a game from the end of the bench as Miguel Yuste can while he’s scoring goals from the midfield, but I care about the team just as much. And caring for the team and for each other is what makes playing on the NMH soccer team, or any NMH team, meaningful.
As the ball boy, I felt an affinity for the team as I followed their success all the way to a New England Championship, but now as a player, I can truly say I am living my dream as a part of that team on our journey to another New England Championship. Every one of you probably grew up dreaming of being a star athlete playing in the big game, but as a faculty child I didn’t just dream of being a great athlete, I dreamed of being an NMH athlete. I wasn’t only hoping to be on a championship soccer team, I wanted to be on the NMH soccer team. Now that I have achieved my dream of becoming an NMH athlete, I am even more proud of the name emblazoned on our uniforms and I am even more proud to be playing for each team that I have been a part of these past four years.
My dream would not have been created if it weren’t for NMH athletics. Along with my dad putting me on a pair of skis at age 2 and making sure I never lost that passion, it was the NMH athletes who inspired me to love sports, to love NMH, and to have the dream, which I am living out today.
Look at all the younger faculty kids, like Aaron Burstein finishing 14th the pie race, Aidan and Liam Shea playing baseball on McLamore, or Lily van Baaren practicing with the girls’ volleyball team. All of you, whether you sit the bench, play on the thirds team, or score the winning goals for varsity, can and do inspire this next generation of NMH athletes. So the next time you compete, think about your athletic dreams as a little kid, and then look around at these kids, because they will be there watching you, cheering you on, and dreaming of one day being an NMH athlete just like you. Thank you.