Editor’s note: Sue Curry Barnett was inducted into the Williston Northampton Athletic Hall of Fame on June 6, 2015. Sue Barnett’s award was presented to her by the Rev. Mary Conant ’74.
This is one’s worst nightmare, having to follow a preacher,
especially for this aged out, former Physical Ed teacher,
a coach who dreaded awards assembly talks
like I dreaded missed free-throws and giving up walks.
Thank you, Mary, for the history of girls’ and women’s sports,
and thanks for your generous comments, ignoring my warts.
Something you’ve learned that we all need to heed,
being kind to each other helps us all to succeed.
One piece of unfinished business from the earlier event honoring Couchie as it translates to this event, to Williston Northampton athletics and to me personally. Thanks Couchie and Janet for three girls who at times made up three-11ths of the starting line-up of soccer teams and one-third of the starting line-up of softball teams.
For the past five months, I have been in touch with dozens of alumnae and have spent some time in the school archives, primarily in search of information for Mary. I kept nothing: not yearbooks, no score books, not records. In all the resonse I received, only two of you passed along information about records—and that information was limited. All of you passed along stories; memories of your playing days and reflections on what you learned beyond skills and tactics. Some would say we failed Mary. We did, I guess.
But you didn’t fail me.
Coaching for me was never about records. Did I coach to win? You bet I did, but “winning” always had a much broader scope than the final record. Winning was about learning and focus and giving one’s best. It was about bouncing back from errors, physical and mental. Winning was about team work and supporting one another…especially when the coach was (not so gently) pointing out to a teammate what she might have done better. It was about doing what was best for the team, even when you didn’t want to play the position the coach assigned. “Oh well!” Life lessons. That you don’t remember records makes me happy.
A nod to some here today who have turned the tables a bit.
I know work out weekly with a personal trainer.
Keeping this old bod active is for me a no-brainer.
The tables are turned now. Some workouts are hell.
And now it’s the trainers who are saying, “Oh well!”
As I look out into the audience, generations of women tell the story Mary spoke to of women’s athletics. Some argue that those of you who played on teams at Northampton School for Girls—with only two afternoons a week of practice and one game day—can’t compete with the “true” athletic experience or “true” athlete. I take issue with that and argue as well that some of you played two sports per season, with four days of practice and two game days (like your male counterparts), and what alumnus can say he played two sports per season.
Some of you deserve to be up here.
In the first year of the merger, despite tunics and sometimes faculty officials, despite being transported to the Northampton School for Girls campus for basketball, girls’ teams did well. One of the stories from that year is of the first Williston Northampton girls soccer team going through their season, not just undefeated, but unscored upon…and not so coincidentally, Mary was the goal keeper on that team, albeit under protest. Life lesson!
I attended the first Williston Northampton Athletic Hall of Fame event two years ago as one woman and eight men (or men’s teams) were inducted into the Hall of Fame. The ratio the following year was one woman to seven men or men’s teams. I spoke with and heard from so many of you here today, women and men, regarding the inequity, and we shared our frustrations. Some of us spoke with members of the Hall’s selection committee. This year’s 3:5 ratio speaks to progress, but the bottom line, no one, female or male, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame if she or he is not nominated, and we need women to get more involved in nominating our teammates and players. I brought a stack of the nomination forms with me today, and I hope many of you will pick up a form to take with you. I have not done my part in this, but starting right now I ask you to join me in getting involved. If we aren’t involved, we shouldn’t complain.
My thanks to whoever took the time to nominate me, and thanks to the committee, but mostly my thanks to all of you who played on or managed teams I coached, who cheered on your friends and daughters and granddaughters. Those were occasionally frustrating, sometimes exhilarating, mostly fun, and always wonderful years. You made them all of that! This is so much about all of you!
I cannot refrain from just one more rhyme,
Though it will cause me to run past my four-minute time.
If you wake up some morning feeling under a cloud,
Smile and remember you make this coach proud.