MEN to BOYS

The past few weeks have allowed me to participate in and recollect the feelings of life’s experience from when I was a boy, to now as a man, to thinking of when I was a boy now as a man. The two events I will talk about occurred on consecutive Saturdays and were both emotional and spiritual by tapping into my youth and invigorating to what it means to stay young.

My high school, Cathedral Prep Seminary in Elmhurst, NY, was having their annual alumni dinner but this year it was to be held at the actual high school. My class of 1991 was being honored for the 25th anniversary (and the 50th anniversary class) so I had a little extra emotion and motivation to attend. The crew tried to get as many of our class of 26 to the event, but with kids events and other commitments, we had only 6 scheduled to attend. Phil $ allowed me to use his hotel points and booked a room for me at the Marriot near LGA as I planned to just fly up Saturday morning, stay the day, and fly back Sunday morning. It made for a whirlwind day, but once I got there, he picked me up, made sure I was settled in the room, then planned to pick me up later in the afternoon for the event. I took a nice long walk around Astoria as it was a cool day and just soaked up with what was Gina’s neighborhood. Crazy yo. Sights I mean that just make you shake your head. Don’t know how people drive around here, better off walking. Horns honking, garbage, and the backyard graduation party complete with band. Hello neighbors!

I had a chance to relax for about 2 hours, watching a little ESPN women’s softball,  showered, and by then it was time for Phil to pick me up for the event. We got there in just in time (hit traffic of course) before Mass started and I was able to get a shot at an image that has been ingrained in my head since high school. One that I channel each time I need a “lift”.  Looks better when it’s dark in the hallway. Awesome power.

After Mass, I met with the rest of the crew: Egan, Khin, Amherin, Laffey, and of course $. The head of Alumni relations, Tim McCleary asked us if one of us would announce the class up and then give a speech. I was honored to be finger pointed at and thus I began to try and compile a speech in my head.  We enjoyed seeing some of the things that were changed (library now is a full fledged media room, upgraded lab, our CHSAA Handball Championship displayed in the gym) and yes, there were a few that haven’t (like the water fountain and ping-pong table in the cafeteria!)  There were great sights like the statue of Pope Pius where there was a phone booth, and this one leading to the locker room, which I cherish personally because it’s my “birthday verse”:

 

Also the HOF plaque still holding the MC name (lower left corner)!        

The night was great as we had Mr. Dilg, our now retired gym teacher, sit at our table too. Great times, great talks, and good food. The joy and spirit in the room was strong and deep. Emotional. Spiritual. Brotherhood. When it was time to call everyone up, I made sure I just spoke from the heart. How much power was held within these walls that I learned to grow with during my 4 years. How if may have seemed suffocating at first, but once harnessed, I have been able to tap into all these years once I went BEYOND the walls. Now that I was back inside them, even if only for a few hours, it has enabled me to recharge, refresh, and realize how special this place was to me. It was – and still is – my “home”.

 

Was special to be a part of and see the crew. Khin actually won a raffle and we each came away with not only a great 25th anniversary plaque on behalf of the school, but wine glasses to boot! There are about 10 more of these special brothers to me that still keep in contact with each other to this day. We plan to one day get everyone together for a day of hoops and dinner right here again. Amen.

 

Last Saturday was the final event for the Let Me Run program. The boys I coach with Janelle Lenhart at Dilworth Elementary were ready to race their 5K. During their last practice, we treated them to their local favorite ice cream place, Menchies (who by the way when they heard about this visit kindly sent them a goodie package to share post-race – thank you Kelly Storey!) then took this photo which will be on the cover of the next Dilworth Neighborhood magazine.

 

Race morning was overcast and comfortable as the torrential rain showers threatening any event on Saturday had subsided the night before. The new business park the race is held at was easy to get to, park, and find all the team at its designated spots. The energy was building up as the boys from all over Charlotte and beyond gathered and donned their lime green shirts. Parents shared the enthusiasm as Lori, Paul, and Ashley miked the crowed with great cheers. As the boys all lined up, I was towards the middle and wore my backpack and held my phone as a way to just have fun and try to catch as many as I could up ahead. The course was flatter and easier than the one they did the past 2 seasons in Huntersville. I knew they all would be surprised with how fast they would run as this one element would help. Also it was 9am start as opposed to a 1pm start. With a final countdown from Grand Marshall stud Olympic sprinter Manteo Mitchell we were off.

With a chip time, it didn’t matter where you started. I figured I was about 20 seconds behind and slowly weaved through the crowd, cheering on my crew as I passed my faster runners. All of them were doing awesome, and by mile 2 I caught up with Donny and his lead boy. Was good to talk to him briefly as he paced his guy well to a great finish. I knew I was towards the front, I gave a nice high five to Chuck before the end but as I finished in 18:50, I figured I placed in the top 5 but was pleased to hear 2 LMR boys took the top spots. I quickly turned around and celebrated each of my team as they crossed the line – many in record times for them! Even their parents had stellar times just keeping up with them. Over the next hour each boy finished and the smiles were abundant. They wore their medal proud, accomplishing a 5K for some the farthest they’ve ever raced. Yeah, so proud of this crew:

I had VS sport bottles of water, jump ropes, and some energy bars to give to each of them thanks to VitaminShoppe. Speaking to their parents afterwards, they were thankful for the time Janelle and I put into the program. For us, it serves as a tremendous opportunity to be an influence into these boys wellness and well-being into become responsible, grown adult young men. By 10:30am, everyone was heading home, and as I made my way to drive back into work for the rest of the day, the energy from these kids never dissipated an ounce the rest of the day. Well, at least until 11pm that night. Youth NOT wasted on the young. Yo.

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