Sunday, May 29, 2011

On cheering sections and graduations

Recently I attended the CSU Monterey Bay graduation ceremony.

My coach, Bob Sevene, the former cross country coach at CSUMB, and I were asked to come by some of his former athletes.

We were honored to share in their special day.

I was armed with food, water, sunblock and even a blanket. Let’s face it, graduations are long and coastal weather is unpredictable. Luckily, the day was beautiful, which probably added to the day’s enjoyment and excitement.

As we piled into the stadium, you could hear the occasional cheers from the soon-to-be graduates who were congregating on a nearby soccer field before the start of the ceremony.

As each graduate stepped up on stage to receive their diplomas, cheers erupted from family and friends.

Knowing what some of my coach’s athletes went through to reach this point, I wasn’t surprised there was so much enthusiasm. One of his former athletes, Fabian Rangel, was the first in his family to graduate from college. He worked at a gas station fulltime, ran on the cross country team, commuted back and forth from King City and still managed to graduate with distinction with a degree in global studies. He’s going on to graduate school in San Francisco.

I have a sneaking suspicion Rangel would have succeeded with or without his cheering section, but it definitely makes the tough times a little easier and the good times more fun knowing you have people rooting for you.

Hearing the cheers for each graduate made me realize how important it is to have a cheering section and people to help you along the way.

CSUMB President Dianne Harrison concluded some of her remarks by asking the graduates to turn and thank their families who had played an integral role in making this milestone possible.

Being an athlete for most of my life, I have been lucky enough to always have a big cheering section and support team. It was my parents who first encouraged my competitive running after I graduated from the University of North Carolina.

They even offered to support me for a year so I could give running 100 percent of my efforts. But I was stubborn when I was younger and insisted on going to graduate school.

I’m comforted to know my parents and family will always be there to lend their support, as they always have. These days I enjoy cheering on Quin as he makes his way through life. Recently, I’ve been his biggest cheerleader as he stands in our front yard, trying to hit a baseball (he’s refusing to use the T-ball stand). I know that sooner than I am ready, I will be cheering for Quin at his own graduation.

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