By Craig Gemmell
Head of School
I’ve been running a bit lately. Not running in the metaphoric sense: I’ve been lacing up my shoes and heading out with the cross country team every chance I get.
We gather at a sprawling old oak outside of Sargent Hall; it provides cover in heat and rain alike, yet it is still very much outside.
Yesterday, a big pack of us left campus, ran through town, and up Sewall Road, past some glorious houses, and I spent my 45 minutes chatting and laughing with kids. Very few of them have been runners for long, but their youth prevailed, and they all zipped along with apparent ease even as my knees started to creak and my breathing quickened.
This team is a stunningly eclectic group, but shared purpose appears to be trumping any cliquishness. New students, old students, girls, boys, day students, boarders all just seem to have blended over the past weeks into a group that both coheres and welcomes the likes of me to practice when I’m able to show up. Coaches Raf and Nardelli are brilliant. They ride along on bikes and encourage, confident about and proud of the team’s shared endeavor.
I’m grateful coaches and kids welcome me because I confess that I’m experiencing a bit of withdrawal after 35 falls spent running through the woods as a member of such a team and, later, as a coach. Instead of coaching during most of the recent halcyon New England fall afternoons, I’ve found myself sitting on planes or conference calls or staring at excel files: work necessary to run a school in the 21st century, but work that has nonetheless kept me away from daily attendance at practice.
But when I head to the oak tree to run with the team, my mind quiets. Taking this time reminds me – in my new position – of my past self, of the galvanic influence one seemingly insignificant activity had on me, and of the great work that kids and adults are doing together all over campus, day and night, here at Brewster.