Thursday, August 25, 2005

My Second Home...

In early 1992, with High School graduation drawing near, I applied to only four colleges. Cooper Union rejected me. I never heard back from SVA (despite that my cousin Reeevs was head of the video department). I was accepted to Philadelphia University. I was also accepted to Southampton College. I had no car of my own, and no money to buy one, and my parents were divorced, so they certainly weren’t going to buy me one. So it was either go two hundred miles away where I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have a way off campus, and would be completely isolated from every comfort I’ve ever had, or I could go to Southampton, live at home, borrow my mom’s car, and be near the few real friends that I had.

As much as I sometimes wonder how different my life would be had I chosen me some Philadelphia Freedom, I think I made the right choice. The Southampton College Campus was my second home from Spring of 1993 all the way up to August of 2005. I started as a student in January of 1993. I quickly made many new friends, including my one of my two closest friends, Bill (through whom I met the OTHER of my two closest friends, Stacey). I found myself spending a lot of time in the gym, shooting hoops, taking volleyball and badminton for credits. The teacher of those classes knew that I was a softball player, so she asked if I knew how to keep a scorebook. I told her I did, and in the Spring of 1995 I became the scorekeeper for the Lady Colonials Softball team. I also ended up volunteering to do a one-time turn as a public address announcer for a volleyball tournament. That one time stint turned into a ten year career and being dubbed by some as “the Voice of Southampton College Athletics (I have even been recognized solely by my voice by one of the workers at a local pizzeria). I graduated in 1997, and had my senior art exhibit in May of 1998. But by that time, I was entrenched too deeply in the campus to make a clean break. I continued to be the scorekeeper for the softball team, announcer for the volleyball, basketball and soccer games, and occasional assistant to the Sports Information Director, even as I went out into the public sector as a graphic designer.

My involvement waned slightly as my professional obligations became greater, but I still went to every home game I could make. When the Sports Information Director stepped down as the head softball coach in favor of one of my classmates and former players, I was asked to be an assistant coach. Knowing my design schedule would conflict with the softball schedule, I was faced with an important crossroads; continue as a graphic designer for a newspaper I was not happy at, or take the coaching job, and find full time employment that was more flexible.

I have had some rough times since that day, but none of them have made me regret my decision to choose coaching. I worked two years in construction, went back to a crappy design job that I had left four years earlier for less pay and a demotion. I coached that team for five of the best years of my life.

Sadly, the school was mismanaged into the ground by Long Island University, and they announced in June of 2004 that they were closing their doors the following summer. I voluntarily took one of the vacated jobs on campus, knowing full well I'd be unemployed within a year, just to spend my time on that campus during its last days. I worked as an Administrative Assistant to the Director of Alumni and Development for Carol Gilbert, still the best boss I ever had and a good friend. I worked as an Administrator on Call, and finished out my careers as both softball coach and public address announcer. In August 2005, I was one of the last people to leave the campus.

I have missed that school every day since, and will miss it for the rest of my life. The friendships I made there, the lessons I learned there, the experiences I have lived through there, will never be forgotten or forsaken.