Congratulations Graduates

Dear 2008 Graduates (and, retroactively, graduates from years gone by), 

We have been skating together for a long time, now. Okay, really, you were skating and I was yelling, but nice-yelling just so that you could hear me over the music. The point is that we’ve laughed, we’ve learned things, and even shed a few tears. And now, I am truly upset.

How dare you graduate! The nerve of you to now go off into the world to have adventures so far away. This will be difficult for me to forgive. The worst part is that I have had to suffer this same affront many times and you have already witnessed, first hand, what this has done to me.

The fact is I have enjoyed our time together, however fleeting. It has been cool to watch you become more of yourself. Like skull cartilage gradually becomes bone, all of your traits that were a bit hazy and inconsistent when you were younger have solidified, somehow. I’d like to think that all your hours in the rink have contributed to this steady transformation. Just look at how well you skate! And how nicely you present yourself both on and off the ice! Those stories you tell: so truly eloquent!

In the last year or so, you have reported on your college visits. Amid skating technique, we have bemoaned the application process and debated school characteristics such as near vs. far, small vs. large, urban vs. country. You have shared your uncertainties and in response I have bestowed wisdumb as if my own experience is infinite when in fact it is only a slice.

Of course I am proud of all your skating and academic accomplishments but what I’m really leading up to here is that I have a rather large and scandalous confession to make:

I have been secretly hoping that you wouldn’t graduate, and as a result you wouldn’t get into college.

While I know that this would be devastating for you and your family, just think how great it would be for me! We could continue to share ice time…into eternity. We could keep everything exactly the same and, together, pretend that time isn’t marching forward, that no one – not me, not you, not your parents or mine – are growing older. I kind of thought you understood this unspoken agreement, but apparently not.

And now, here you are going off to lands only partly known where the pizza and bagels may or may not be inferior, where the living space will definitely be miniscule, the adventures limitless, and the opportunities (educational and otherwise) will be laid out for you like a buffet.

I know that you will pack your skates. I know that you will lace them up anywhere from four times to a few hundred times. But I also know that your priorities will reconfigure and that everything you are doing now (including our lessons) will in three month’s time start to seem distant, and gradually become more a part of your history than your reality.

Okay, wait a second – I have to admit something else, and I suppose this cancels out that previous confession. It isn’t really that I hoped you wouldn’t graduate, what I’ve actually been experiencing is envy. For when I hear you tell about your prom, and your graduation ceremony, and the last summer job you’ve wrangled before you leave home, I am reminded of my own excitement at your age: all the possibility and the sparkling unknowns. I remember the specific giddiness I felt while shopping for a new duvet, my very own mug, and who could forget that all-important shower caddy. It was all going to be so incredible. And, in fact, it was.

In the end, what I mainly want to say is, Bravo. Have fun. And try to appreciate every single millisecond. This latter edict, like three patterns of the Starlight Waltz or a double run through of the Senior Moves test, or 50,000 axels in a row, is of course far easier said than done. But I trust that all of your experiences thus far, the ups and downs (literally and figuratively) have rendered you a very real and thoughtful person, and that you will be able to process the upcoming experiences with a dose of perspective.

I also trust that if you have your own skating students along the way (and after all, shouldn’t you try to earn back some of that money your parents spent?), that you will please teach them to bend their knees, not push with their toes, and look up instead of constantly searching for that dollar bill they apparently dropped on the ice. Last of all, I trust that you will keep in touch. For you realize that if you go off into that future of yours and never come back to visit, I will be shattered. No pressure, though.

Seriously? This goes straight from me to you: Woo Hoo!


Are you worried that you might be drinking too much coffee? Determine whether or not you are addict by clicking on Cusp of Greatness in the column over to the right.   



  1. Jerry L · June 17, 2008

    Yes, if you love them, set them free.

  2. Michael Kasper · June 17, 2008

    As a parent of one of your graduates…there is no way to thank you for all of the care, generosity of soul, and willingness to mentor – as well as teach…
    So, thank you.

  3. M · June 17, 2008

    I keep secretly hoping that my graduating students will put off college (or least go somewhere near the rink) in order to keep skating with me! It has happened once. However, two years later, she had the nerve to get married and move away!

  4. May · June 17, 2008

    I’m gratuating and leaving for far off lands this fall! And am super happy. But I know my coach has the exact same feelings that you detailed (including ones on getting old…). But at the same time, I’m really sad about leaving my “child” life behind and moving onto bigger and scarier things.

  5. sitspin · June 17, 2008

    I like the graduation cap that acts like a rocking chair. Excellent stuff, all of it.

  6. Gradually · June 18, 2008

    All graduations are bittersweet, but there is a special place in a coach’s heart for the kids that “go the distance” i.e. keep skating and taking lessons in some form at least through the end of high school.

  7. Vivian · June 19, 2008

    Graduation is always a little bittersweet. Thanks for putting it so “eloquently”.

  8. zee · June 25, 2008

    it’s so funny how true this is… and so touching.

    “I’d like to think that all your hours in the rink have contributed to this steady transformation.”

    for the record, you (and the other coaches, and the other skaters, and all of those other rink people/situations) have, more than any of you will ever know!

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