"Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. Then, it will be a really good day." Louie Schwartzberg
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A Wonderful Night

posted by Susan Dominikovich on , , , ,

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Last night Paul held his annual Pieter vanderKooij shield race with his athletes in Inglewood.  Parents came out as well to witness the boys’ attempts to post the fastest time of the year in the 3000 meters track race, thus securing the coveted shield with their name engraved.  Matt Baxter has had his name on the shield for four years and before him, a boy named David Morton held it during his tenure at New Plymouth Boys’ High.  Matt has finished school but came last night along with a few other old boys to witness the contest and pass the shield on to a new name.  It was fiercely fought but the race was clearly won by a year 10 boy named Angus White, who ran the event in 9:11—the fastest time of the year. 

As per tradition, the boys and their parents came back to our place for ice cream and presentations.  Paul serves the ice cream and I mingle.  Paul was certain that 29 cones and four boxes of ice cream would be enough.  The cones ran out and I lost count, dipping into the drawers for bowls.  I allowed our kidlets to join the party and enjoyed watching my girls shyly wend their way through the crowd of long-legged teenage boys.  Paul downloaded the video of the race onto his laptop and we were able to enjoy his commentary and the excitement of the crowd on our big screen in the lounge.

It was wonderful to witness the respect the boys have for Paul, their coach, his team.  They laughed at his jokes.  They wanted to be near him.  Some of the younger ones played with Sam and his Lego.  The older ones gave Paul a gentle ribbing for his bruised toe. 

It was wonderful to see how much love the parents have for Paul. Every one of them chatted with me about life and kids and school but their constant refrain was how much they appreciate the time Paul puts into their boys.  How committed he is.  How fantastic the team culture is that he has created.  How much he has given them.  Their boys.  His boys.

It was wonderful to hear Paul’s speech which affirmed the boys and their efforts but also had us chuckling and nodding in appreciation of the shield's traditional context.  It was wonderful to hear Matt’s speech in return which clearly indicated how much the team has given him.  It was wonderful to extrapolate that and to think of all the boys on which Paul has had such a significant impact—hundreds of boys over the decade.  It was wonderful that one of the parents publicly thanked Paul in front of the crowd and that the general nodding and clapping spoke volumes.

But most wonderful of all was that the four old boys who had come along while on a break from university, stayed to chat and reminisce with Paul long after the others had left.  It was no longer teacher and students, coach and runners.  It was mutual respect and friendship among equals.  Young men and older man but with mutual interests, desires and most of all, shared precious memories.  They stayed late to chat with a mate.

I am proud of my beloved.  Proud of his character and commitment and proud of his significant contribution to society.  God has given him many gifts, but one of them is to lead.  He leads these boys well and he gives them much.  That is why his team grows from strength to strength every year.  Yes, he gives them opportunities and contributes positively to their self-belief and self-esteem.  More than anything however, he gives them traditions and a community, a team to which they belong in their formative years, a foundation for their future.

This time next year, there will be another race, potentially a new name on the shield, more parents, new old boys, fresh young ones, girls in their pajamas a little taller. 

Another wonderful night.

And more ice cream cones.  

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