Believe: View from the Bridge
I am a sports enthusiast. Always have been, always will be. I remember watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports’ thrills of victories and agonies of defeat with my father as a little girl. This spring, I sat with my husband and two sons and watched the second round of the NFL draft. I believe in the lessons one can learn playing on a team: true sportsmanship, unselfish commitment to others, hard work, and achieving goals. And, I have enjoyed hearing the stories of athletes who have overcome adversity to reach those goals.
It’s why in the fourth grade I chose to do my biographical book report on Olympic Gold Medalist Wilma Rudolph. At the 1960 Rome Games, Rudolph overcame adversity to become the first American female athlete to win three gold medals in a single Olympics. Born the 20th of 22 children, Rudolph contracted polio at age four leaving her left leg paralyzed. Determined to walk again, Rudolph did just that—and more.
At age 13 while playing in the state basketball tournament, she so impressed Tennessee State University’s track and field coach with her speed and athleticism that he invited her to join TSU’s Tigerbelles as an unofficial member of the running club. At 16, she burst onto the scene by winning a bronze medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. Though the Tigerbelles often faced segregation and discrimination, they were a resolute group with many going on to compete in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. There, Rudolph won three gold medals, setting world records in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, as well as the 4x100 meter relay. In an interview for her 1977 autobiography simply entitled Wilma, she said: “To me, my legacy is to the youth of America to let them know they can be anything they want to be.”
Like Rudolph, we’ve all faced adversity over the past year and a half. We’ve been forced to change the way we lived life pre-pandemic. Some have suffered great loss, others have faced isolation, and many have confronted anxiety and fears. We’ve been challenged by one another to think deeply about what it means to belong. Through it all, however, we, this Tabor community near and far, have shown great resilience and perseverance.
At our opening Chapel—virtual, of course—I shared what was written on the chalkboard in my home: a single word - BELIEVE. Be your authentic self. Engage with your peers and classmates. Listen and learn. Inspire and include others. Empathize. Value yourself and validate others. Elevate one another with your thoughts, words, and actions.
We have done all of this and more, as students, faculty and staff, parents, trustees, alumni, and friends. We believe in one another and in this incredible institution. And, although we haven’t always won the gold medal, we’ve trained hard, competed well, and shown that we can and will meet every challenge that comes our way.
Now, as I end my leg of the Tabor Olympic relay, I proudly pass the baton on to incoming Head of School Tony Jaccaci. It has been an honor serving you and this amazing school, and I look forward to Tabor winning many gold medals in the years to come.