I joined the Wardlaw+Hartridge community in February of 2000, so my first commencement was a group of 12th graders that I only knew for a few months. Those seniors are now in their 40’s and since then I have seen a few at alumni events or occasionally at a Fall Fair.
Over the next 22 years I’ve had the great privilege of seeing students I’ve taught and coached come back to campus. It’s hard to describe the feeling I get from seeing the grown-up version of the kids I remember. Often the conversations turn to sharing stories from their time here at Wardlaw+Hartridge. Many of those stories are memories that were made while participating on our teams.
About a month ago I attended an alumni event in Manhattan that featured former Rams spanning from the early 1990’s to 2018 graduates and I was intrigued by the unique bond that this group had. I was pleased to see older alumni connecting and enjoying spirited conversations with some that were just out of college. The commonality was much more than the fact that they all went to school in the same building. There seemed to be a mutual respect and admiration for each other that only a Wardlaw+Hartridge Ram can feel.
That night convinced me that maintaining strong relationships with our athletic alumni is crucial for the success of our school and athletic program. Many alumni tell me that they still check how our teams are doing, especially the teams in the sports they played. Alumni care because they remember what putting on the Rams uniform meant to them. There’s a noticeable sense of pride when they speak about their playing days here.
Alumni clearly help build a sense of community and tradition that every athletic program prides itself on. This is why I will always introduce visiting alumni to our current student-athletes. I recently made one of these introductions and the visiting alum said to me that he remembered me doing the same many times when he played for me and he could not believe that he was now the W+H graduate meeting what he described as his “young self.”