We have heard it countless times, “Wheaton is a family.” We even sometimes roll our eyes when we hear people go on and on about the tight knit community that we have fostered here. And as much as I hate to be that senior gushing on and on about how Wheaton is my family, I have to say it’s true.
When you think about it, each one of our teams is like a nuclear family, where everyone plays their role. Some of us are the protective parents, some of us are the younger siblings vying for attention, and some of us are the overachiever middle siblings.
We find our extended family in other teams on campus, who all bring their unique personalities to the table. They represents the parts of your family who are unapologetically loud, extremely serious, and loyal.
And like with all families, comes unconditional love as well as a healthy does of dysfunction. We all have disagreements, or passive aggressive behavior, on and off the court or field. But at the end of the day, when someone from outside the extended or nuclear family challenges or crosses us, we defend, we support, we shield from harms way. That’s our instinct. That is what has happened as a result of our countless hours of conditioning, lifting and practicing.
And although each year some of us leave and we welcome new members to the family, the bond that has been built will remain.
Coming to Wheaton from Ohio, I made a choice to be almost 800 miles away from my home. I figured it would mean that I couldn’t pack up for a long weekend, or have my parents come to school to take me out to dinner. I never realized what it would really mean being so far away from my already dispersed family. It means you don’t always get that comforting hug, or those uplifting pep talks after a heart breaking loss or a tough day.
But Wheaton has given me family in ways I wouldn’t have expected. I never walk off the field without seeing a student, professor, teammate, or parent giving me a genuine hug, or congratulations. Over my four years I have watched as student athletes support each other.
This year alone I witnessed this gym fill up with fans as the volleyball team hosted an intense quarterfinal game against Wellesley. I saw the flood of fans at Keefe field for the men’s soccer team’s run in the NCAA tournament.
Distance or weather doesn’t stop us from supporting each other; we pack into cars and head to Cambridge for the women’s soccer NEWMAC finals, or Springfield for the women’s basketball’s run for the NEWMAC cup. And I think I can speak for my team when we say how much it meant having so many of you supporting us this weekend at our game against Babson.
The support from the athletics community here goes beyond the field and the court. We support each other as we defend a thesis; present our work at an art show, sing in a cappella jams, and perform at music recitals.
I am so incredibly thankful that Wheaton is the kind of place where this is the norm. In my four years I have always felt the support of a loving, dysfunctional, and caring extended family. And a special thank you to my lacrosse family, as they truly made my time here the best I could possibly imagine. I have had an incredible four years here, and I know that doesn’t hold true for everyone, but I hope that most of you in this room share the same sentiments.
Thank you and congratulations to the Class of 2015, you have made my time here so special and I am unbelievably honored to be speaking on your behalf tonight. This entire room of athletes inspires me in so many ways, and I am so proud to be apart of the Wheaton College athletics family. Thanks again, and have a great night!