Tonight we had our banquet. A time for food, reflection and closure. We feasted on Pollo Tropical. Mr. Charm and I improvised speaches and Coach Lange worked off of his carefully crafted note cards. People listened, laughed and I hope felt the appreciation we have for their contributions to our program.
If they listened to our speaker, I know they were moved, Dr. Richard Lapchick spoke at our banquet. He is recognized internationally as the “social conscience of sports”. He spoke for twenty minutes and didn’t waste a word. He spoke of the platform an athlete has even at the high school level to model behavior. He urged our players to get the most out of that platform and in doing so the most out of themselves.
When speaking of his life’s journey, he spoke in snapshots. Moments that altered or affirmed his course. In the summer of 1960, Dr. Lapchick accompanied his father to Europe to see the Olympics in Rome. Before arriving in Rome, his father took him to Dachau Concentration Camp. I don’t know if this was by design or coincidence, but in the span of two weeks, Dr. Lapchick was exposed to the worst and best of human behavior. The lingering ravages of the Holocaust and the uplifting spirit of the Olympic games. Millions put to death for thier faith and hundreds medaled by for thier accomplishments, and as Dr. Lapchick noted regardless of thier faith, race or creed.
His message was that our world is troubled, but their is particularly in sport, a capacity to effectuate positive change. I took from his story the value of experiencing life. The snapshots he spoke in did not occur on a couch, or at a laptop or behind a desk, but by being places, interacting with people and observing conditions firsthand. Ultimately, to live life.
I hope our players, and parents, recognize the gift of Dr. Lapchick’s speach.