One of my favorite parts of my job as Director of Athletics is catching up with our alumni. And my conversations with one recent alumna illustrate what makes this so rewarding and affirming of our mission.
Libby Gold ’16 completed her freshman year at Villanova last year and came home for the summer. My first year was Libby’s senior year and with her being a three-sport athlete, and her mom, Julie, then serving as the chair of the Athletic Committee for the Randolph Community Network, I had lots of opportunities to get to know Libby and her family.
When I think about what success looks like in Randolph Athletics, Libby is one of many great examples.
Over the last two years Libby and I discussed why she played multiple sports. I’d ask for suggestions on how to compel others. We talked about the keys to managing a challenging course load while being involved in so many activities. I wanted to hear what she learned from her involvement in athletics because she was involved with programs that had some good seasons and some that had more than its share of adversity.
I asked her for her best season and her toughest season and I was surprised by her answer.
I started here as AD on July 1, 2015, and it didn’t take any time at all to learn that the first thing I needed to tackle was getting a handle on the varsity volleyball team.
There was a new coach and the team hadn't cohered. It was clear to see they had the pieces in place to be very good, but the culture of the team was anything but. It was literally a day-by-day process of meeting with the coach, meeting with players, meeting with the coach and players together… and trying to get everyone on the same page, but I can say it was one of the most rewarding seasons I’ve ever been a part of.
So it shouldn’t have surprised me when Libby’s answer was, “I would say the best season and also the toughest season for me would've been my senior year volleyball season. Everything about those months was a struggle: learning how to respond to a new coach, recovering from huge losses in leadership and talent the year before, and figuring out what my role was going to be on the team. But, it was by far the most fulfilling season because we dealt with adversity in a way I hadn't come across before and it fostered better friendships along the way…and a state championship which honestly was the best day of my whole life.”
I could tell you lots of stories about this season and the life skills that were developed, but success can come from all types of seasons and it doesn’t have to be one that ends with a state title.
Also, a successful high school playing career isn’t based on whether an athletic scholarship is earned or not.
Libby is now playing for the club volleyball team at Villanova. Just like many Randolph graduates I’ve talked to, college club sports have been a great extension of pursuing their passion and finding very positive ways to meet others, stay focused on school and provide the needed structure of being successful in college.
I asked Libby about how sports helped her grow and mature here at Randolph as well her decision to play club ball at Villanova. She said, “Club volleyball was one of the best choices I made in college. I have always found that if I wanted to meet people who have similar values and determination to succeed I could find them in sports. My best friendships have always come from a sports setting. Playing in college not only helped me find friends, it kept me motivated to stay active and focused on managing my time. It actually helped my academics when the club volleyball requirements became more intense. I did not get to become a travel player until second semester. We played schools like Rutgers, Princeton, Drexel, and Penn. We qualified for nationals in Kansas City. We placed 1st in our pool and eventually got knocked out by George Washington in the gold bracket.”
And Libby finished her freshman year on the Dean’s List.
Sports isn't the only place this kind of balance between academics and other interests happens. Just as students who haven't chosen a school based on pursuing a particular sport find a way to keep playing, many of our alumni stay involved with music and drama at the college level as well, even when it isn't the main focus of their studies.
Libby’s involvement with the Randolph Raiders did not end when she graduated. This summer she was back home for the summer working. She also made time to come in everyday to work with our JV and varsity volleyball teams. What a great influence on our current students and a role model for them to look up to.
Libby’s advice to these young ladies is this, “The best advice I could give to someone in high school, or younger, is to find something, like sports is for me, that makes you happy, motivated, and surrounds you with people who make you a better version of yourself.”
Stories like these are better than anything that can be won on a field or court. This is our mission.