Posted on May 23rd, 2013
n honor of the last day of school, one more word about legacy.
I’ve never dreamt of being a PE coach. The closest I ever came to participating in organized sports was on the scorekeepers’ bench during basketball games (go Rams!) But last Friday, was play day at our public elementary school. The weather held and, all told, more than 600 children played games and threw water balloons throughout the day. Children who had attended the school in years past, now middle and high school students themselves, returned to run 14 different stations. These elementary school graduates worked to exert their will over their wet and wild charges—getting louder when the situation called for it, being clear in their directions when things seemed muddled the first time through, those teenagers earned every slice of free pizza they consumed during their break.
“I haven’t been to any other play days,” I told a school employee in passing, “but this one seems like…a lot.”
He nodded and smiled. Then he told me that he’d seen similar events at two other schools fairly recently and while about a quarter of the same attractions were offered, the event unfolding around us in all of its damp glory was, in fact, exceptional.
I spent the rest of that morning looking for one boy’s lost shoes and squishing through the grass, carrying a laundry basket full of towels and t-shirts behind Peaches’ second grade class. But every day since, I have thought at one point or another about what that elementary school coach leaves behind at the end of the year, about the impact of each play day on the participants and the volunteers, and then of each one stacked on top of the other. He is a rich man, that coach, a person of influence and power and happy consequence.∗