Minds to Lead – Hands to Serve – Hearts to Love

“Laugh, clap, or cry?”

Author: Mr. Ron Glodich

"It's an involutary action, just a way for our bodies to express excitement."

“It’s an involuntary action, just a way for our bodies to express excitement.” This is just one response on Reddit.com when the question was asked, “Why do we jump for joy?”

On Friday, March 24th I had the pleasure of working as an administrator/trainer at our home girls’ soccer match with Landmark Academy. In that match, Austin’s 1st year head coach Carolyn Balzano led her team to a 2-0 win over the Lakers. I was privileged to a front row seat at the match and experienced all the emotions that go along with a hard fought victory.

I have coached a variety of sports since 1984 and it is safe to say that I have witnessed just about everything at athletic events. But on that Friday, a powerful set of images were seared into my visual memory banks during the second half.  The images were beautifully captured by our Marketing Associate Jessica Ericson, and she later posted them on our Austin Facebook page.

Freshmen Sophia P. scored a goal late in the second half to put the Crusaders ahead for good. Sophia has never played soccer before and thus has never experienced the thrill of scoring a goal in a game. The unrehearsed emotions she displayed literally was one of the purest forms of happiness I have ever witnessed. Sophia repeatedly jumped into the air with a smile on her face that was undeniable. She then raced toward her teammates, who also joined in on the jump for joy party. Finally in the background of this incredible scene was a group of Austin students who were equally expressive of their celebratory enthusiasm.

The actions of Sophia, her teammates, and the fellow Austin students were all caught on film by Mrs. Ericson. Pride could not be contained and oozed from me as I purposely enlarged each photo to relive the impactful moment. My reaction to this play live was something I have rarely experienced as either a coach or a spectator. I spontaneously gasped for air and emitted a sound that was unrecognizable. I did not know whether to laugh, clap, or cry in happiness for Sophia and her hard-working teammates.

The support from veteran players like Evalyn T. and Meta K. made this scenario even more special.  Add Molly C. to the list of veterans that along with Coach Balzano, are transforming these young Crusaders into a relentless group. Austin provides an opportunity for student/athletes to experience these special moments that might not be possible at a bigger school.

We as educators pride ourselves in the educational foundation we provide for our students. The success our alumni have had in post-secondary schooling is positive feedback that we are doing strong work there. Whether we like it or not, the experiences in the classroom can hardly match the thrill of scoring a goal, or making a game winning shot, or breaking a school record in track. Solid educational foundations paired with life lasting athletic experiences make for an incredibly adaptable adult.

I am in the twilight of my career and so happy to have found a school where the big picture of athletics has never been so clearly painted. None of our students will ever make a living playing a sport professionally.  Yes it might be possible, but statistically the odds say else wise. Athletics should be valued for the discipline they create and for the team work and communicative skills they create.

Having watched several soccer matches now for the 2023 season, I am so proud of a group of girls who might get knocked down during the match but bravely pop right back up. They collectively say thank you to me every time the match ends, win or lose. I will proudly watch these girls evolve and improve as the season continues.  And during that time, I am sure I will laugh, I am sure I will clap, and I am sure there will be moments where a tear will form in this old man’s eye.



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