I spent a part of this afternoon before Thanksgiving watching the Trinity Tigers Basketball Team mount a valiant effort against the Catholic University Cardinals. Today’s strong showing followed a game last evening at the Trinity Center against Christopher Newport College. What do basketball games have to do with my Thanksgiving message? Well, I found myself reflecting on the fact that I am so grateful to all of the women and men who work so hard to teach our students well, and among our many great teachers here at Trinity, our athletics coaches sometimes do not get the recognition they deserve. They are some of the most valuable teachers in the lives of some of our students. They have helped many young women develop specific skills in particular sports while also learning the lifelong skills of leadership, discipline, health and conditioning, good competitive spirit and the ability to accept loss without bitterness but with a good measure of determination to improve tomorrow.
Our coaches work hard, often coming to work with our teams after full days at other jobs. They work odd hours during the playing seasons, traveling with the teams and supervising the students on the road trips — study halls are part of the deal, as well as recruiting the next crop of student athletes in each sport.
Most important, our coaches make us glad because we can see the fine results of their hard work in the performance of our student athletes. I’m a big fan of all of our teams, as everyone knows, and I find few pastimes more satisfying than watching our teams compete well. Victories may be occasional, but that’s not the real gladness — seeing how well our students have prepared for the games, knowing that students and coaches have devoted a great deal of time to practice, realizing that some of our students are now varsity players in sports they never imagined they could play just last summer — this is what makes me glad, and causes me to pause to give thanks for our coaches: Gary Blake and Briana Green in Basketball; Beth Stone (who is also our Sports Information Director) and Erik Beall in Soccer; Liz Scheiner in Volleyball; and new this year, Kevin Bembridge and Marvin Parker who are developing a Cross Country team, and Caron Whitaker working on the Swim Team. In the spring, we’ll cheer for Lacrosse whose coach, Kristine Manning, does double-duty as Athletics Director, and Ellen McEwen, our Tennis coach and Associate Athletics Director.
Many thanks as well to Chad Jones, our tireless Athletics Trainer who keeps our athletes healthy.
And of course, the Athletics Program would not be where it is today without the overall guidance and outstanding work of Trinity Center Executive Director Becky Vuksta, Assistant Director Jamie Burket and the excellent staff of the Trinity Center. Thanks to the good work of the Trinity Center staff, everyone at Trinity can enjoy a broad variety of fitness, wellness and recreational sports activities.
Let me take this opportunity to thank all of our student athletes as well — we have other occasions to celebrate their achievements, and you can see their photos on the screen in the Well from time to time. But they also wear our school colors proudly, and they work hard to represent Trinity well in every game. I am proud of these students and the level of excellence they strive to achieve in each game. We’re not a big “sports school” and that’s as it should be, since the academic and intellectual life of every student is why Trinity exists. But as our partners at the Women’s Sports Foundation have documented regularly, a fine athletics program is a vital part of an excellent educational program for women, and Trinity’s Athletics Department has become a truly vital part of the lives of many of our students.
Of course, I also have to thank all of the many fans — students, families, faculty, staff, friends. The many fans who come out to root for the teams, often wearing Trinity colors and cheering loudly, also are a source of great joy and encouragement for our student athletes and coaches.
In this season, in thanking the coaches, athletes and fans, I want to highlight just a few of the people who contribute so much to the education of students at Trinity. Of course, I am immensely grateful to the faculty and staff for all of the hard work accomplished each day. We have so many generous benefactors, loyal alumnae and alumni, great friends and distinguished leadership on our Board of Trustees.
To everyone who has given us reason to cheer for Trinity this year, who have brightened our days and been sources of true gladness — many thanks!
Happy Thanksgiving to All!