About a month ago I was afforded an opportunity to attend a retreat for Jesuit Education. On the retreat we were allowed to tour a Jesuit school in the San Jose area. I chose Bellarmine College Preparatory School.
Bellarmine is an all-boy school with an enrollment of 1,650 students. The school was established in 1851, and has an incredible history and tradition.
On the tour of the school I marveled at the athletic facilities. The baseball field was beautiful. The track seemed every bit as nice as any in our town, but I was told it was going to be redone in the near future. Inside the track is where the soccer team and JV football team played. A short walk led me to the Lacrosse field, the theater and then on to the pool.
After leaving the pool we walked into the athletic center which featured a weight room that would embarrass the University of Alaska. As I walked along, I marveled at the buildings, the facilities, and thought about the money that must have gone into each.
There was probably a small window of time in which I realized we would never have a baseball field, football field, or pool and for a moment, just a small moment, as I walked around taking it all in, I felt a little sorry for myself. And then it hit me.
So what? The facilities and buildings do not make a place special. The people make it special and I will put our staff, our parents, and our students up against those of Bellarmine, and any other school, for that matter, any day of the week.
Do you think the secretary of Bellarmine puts a thank-you card or chocolate chip cookies on the desk of the head basketball coach following a loss at the state basketball tournament? I seriously doubt the president of any school sits outside each morning at 7:30 a.m. greeting children with a unique hat, every day. I highly doubt the clock and score book are run by volunteers during the volleyball and basketball seasons at Bellarmine.
I am confident no school has a volleyball coach who purchases the necessary equipment to stream home sports events and then decide to do the streaming of all basketball games AND the recent spring concert so families and friends outside the immediate area could watch. Who does something like that? Our volleyball coach.
How many schools have a music director who will show up at 6 a.m. all year to ensure students get the necessary tutelage to reach their full potential? I highly doubt the soccer coach at Bellarmine volunteers his time AND buys high quality sweatshirts for the players. How many schools have a retired principal return to teach classes and paint the walls on a weekend?
Bellarmine may have 1,650 students to our 125 high schoolers, but I am willing to bet money we have more student athletes who participate in three sports a school year than they do.
We may be small and we may not have the fanciest buildings or best athletic facilities, but we have extraordinary families, talented students, and a committed and driven staff. What matters most is the faith, the kindness, the compassion and the resolve of those who fill the classrooms and halls of your facilities. In these areas, we take a back seat to no one and no baseball field, swimming pool or hockey rink will change that.
It is not my intention to speak negatively of Bellarmine. The folks there were very nice and I am sure they have a wonderful school. I just think it is worth noting, buildings and facilities don’t make an institution successful. People do, and I love our people.
This story is reprinted from The Full Curl, published weekly by Coach Ostanik. You can find Coach O and Monroe Athletic results on Twitter @thefullcurl.