At the 2011 All-Sports Banquet held May 14, Ashmead White Director of Athletics Jeff Ward spoke of Polar Bear pride – and not only as it pertains to the triumphs of competition.
Tonight is a celebration. We’ve honored a dozen of our friends for their fantastic accomplishments and efforts, but tonight is about all of you and it’s at least as much about who you are as what you did.
I will remember that day in November when two goals only seven minutes apart propelled one Bowdoin team to a national championship and another to a Final Four for the rest of my life. But the feeling that day doesn’t top the pride I felt on Yellow Shirt Day when our community-within-a-community stepped up to make a statement about valuing all people.
It was thrilling to cheer Polar Bears across the finish line or first to the wall. But it didn’t top the joy I felt seeing one of you light up the world of a kid on Girls and Women in Sports Day, Skate with the Bears, or at Kick Start Soccer.
The little victories within each contest, within each game are as meaningful as the games themselves. The athlete whose heart raises the play of her whole team or the one split-second skill that’s the product of hours of practice, or the race the that is the result of a year of training. As much as I love my special seat to see those successes, they don’t top the source of my tears at Relay for Life.
It was a great year. We won over 60 percent of the contests versus NESCAC opponents and over 75 percent overall. But our seniors also led us to new levels of caring in our community. Kat [Flaherty “˜11] and Caitlin [Callahan “˜11] are very deserving winners of the Wil Smith Award for Service, but there are several others of you who could have also won and no one would have blinked an eye. It’s a wonderful legacy for the class of 2011 and, I hope, the permanent identity of Bowdoin Athletics. We are a place that proclaims our standards with “ands.” At Bowdoin, we seek to be winners in the arena “and” in the classroom “and” in the community.
Seniors, as you go out into the world, I hope you will return often and that you remember that you are a Polar Bear for life.
As we begin to focus on next year, I hope that each of you will aspire to the greatest in all areas. I am very excited by the potential of our teams. I want to challenge each of you do the daily little things that will result in you, and then your team, reaching that potential. Next year can be the winningest in Bowdoin history if we seize the opportunity.
And we can match that off the field. When Brian Burke spoke so eloquently a few weeks ago, he talked about how teammates needed to be more than tolerant, they needed to be accepting. It was an important lesson. Acceptance lies at the core of what makes a great team great. At Bowdoin, I hope that all of you will think of your team as your team, the Athletic Department as your team, and the College as whole as a team. Polar Bear Nation is about more than cheering.
Congratulations to all of you for a wonderful year. Have a fun and productive summer. Thank you for coming.