This past weekend in Baltimore, JP Tew and his long-time Cincinnati friend and playing partner, Rohan Iyer, squared off in the finals of a National Squash Tournament. It was an exciting milestone and a first in Cincinnati Squash History. But there is another story I also want to celebrate this weekend!
I’m excited about the story that has been quietly unfolding at The T for 5 years, since the day when JP and Rohan were 7 year olds zealously batting squash balls and bravely showing up for Silver Squash Tournaments. The story behind the story is a weekly thing that we perpetuate at The T, a process of helping children grow, like flowers that unfold, through their engagement with a great life sport. Our story is a program and a community that place value on personal development through sport.
The story can be summed up in three words: Athlete, Person, Community. We believe kids can discover themselves through sport, can give expression to their higher selves through sport. Sport is a language many children speak; it is a canvas where they can express themselves. We believe that if you create an atmosphere where sport intersects with values, children can discover values through sport, they can make values concrete in their lives through their athletic experience, and in that way develop their character and their personalities through the experience of sport. We believe athletics can lead to personal development.
But a Person is also a part of a Community, and an Athlete at The T is part of a team, even though squash is considered to be an individual sport. When JP competes in national tournaments, he does so as a member of a team of T tournament players, the Spartans, whose values he commits to represent, who pull for him when he is away, and whom he supports when he is home by cheering for them in league play, refereeing matches, exchanging rails in practice sessions and sharing in the mutual love of the game. JP’s victory this past weekend is a victory for our program, just as it is a shared accomplishment with Rohan Iyer, his peer from another Cincinnati program. It is a team accomplishment, not just an individual trophy. It is a sign for his fellow Spartans that goals can be achieved, if the heart is set fast upon them and work is done toward them.
The root of the word competition is com – petere, to strive together. Our story is that athletic competition is a canvas where a person’s inner light develops and shines, as does the light of the community that nourishes him and even that of the fellow athlete who contends with him. It’s the story of an Athlete growing into a Person as part of a Community. That is our story and we saw one of its great chapters play out this weekend!
These are my immediate thoughts as I reflect on the exciting milestone of this weekend. Thank you to the whole T Community for supporting JP in his Baltimore adventure and all of JP’s T Teammates in their hard and happy work back at home! A great weekend for the T Community!