Transfer Everything You Know and Reassess

In November – There is a huge, cool, project known as National Novel Writing Month, NANOWRIMO, and listening to NPR’s Saturday’s edition, the reverberations of Stephen Sondheim were again emphasized and with good reason. I realized how VITAL transfer is to EVERYTHING when it comes to internalizing and creating deeper meaning of concepts, ideas, and how we live our lives.

Stephen Sondheim truly revolutionized and rewrote the modern day musical is and has become. The fact that he waited until the script was done, SO HE COULD REPLICATE WHAT THE CHARACTERS were feeling, and no WONDER the scores he created seemed to come from within each character of his shows. He was painstakingly specific in his craft. This is a lesson that can be applied to EVERYONE and should be applied to every single individual as they live their life.

Football– our WHS team is undefeated and I hope they continue to keep their eye on painstakingly honing their craft, even in victory – it makes a difference in how you conduct yourself on and off the field.

Cross Country – Our WHS ladies and boys did what most people can not, and would not do over a period of five months, and some are still learning this – the dedication and commitment that they can use to hone their craft of doing their best when people are watching and when people are not – they can painstakingly create a shell of who they were if they pay attention to the details that make up their minutes, hours, days, weekends, weeks, seasons, championships.

National Novel Writing Month – It sounds impossible to create a 50, 000 novel in one month. It sounds pretty impossible to go a whole season undefeated, moving up to be 15th out of 31 XC teams in the state, impossible to get all A’s in the middle of a pandemic, impossible to move ahead in front of countless assignments week after week, and yet – it is possible. It is attainable and worth the sweat in the end.

Students – How much more powerful would studies be if every assignment created was tied to a childhood experience that teacher had, or someone else that that reminds them, ties them to something they experienced?

Teachers – the Fight is real to grasp and balance what is required and needed, and yet, the personal tied to the real life a-ha is there, and often so hard to bend around to get to, yet a lifetime of value is there when students transfer the personal to the real – and yes, the struggle is real when we are surrounded by 30 + at a time- the fight towards this is the payoff is lingering out there. It needs to be EASIER to allow teachers to get students to that point. I STILL to this day remember my Bilo Managers, teachers from Butler High to college, that provided lessons I connected to my life, we are lucky to have such teachers at Woodbridge High and it makes the difference in everything.

Stephen Soundheim changed the way musicals were received, I ALWAYS thoughts musicals as a young age were – flowery, not for guys at all, too MUSHY, too, “Soap operay”- and then I took over the Aloha yearbook at Seaford High School and moved to Mexico and began Repentino. with a bunch of the most talented students ever, there it began with Camila de la Parra, at Seaford High, it was all due to a legend of a principal, Clarence Davis. However, my transfer of what I thought I knew about musicals, changed to what I felt inside after seeing my first that I can remember, The Christmas Show at Radio City and then onto Warhorse. I walked out dazed and surprised at what I thought I knew.

Had I not done any of the above, or met any of the above, I would be stuck in the same thought of what I thought I knew musicals to be, and yet, NANOWRIMO, POETRY OUT LOUD, and SO MUCH AROUND US provides a chance for individuals of all ages to take what they thought they knew, or what they think they know, and have it all mysteriously change right in front of them.

Stephen Soundheim is certainly responsible for changing the perceptions of hundreds upon thousands of people’s views, but so can coaches, athletes, school and public librarians, educators, parents, and more. He is a lesson in what the perceptions are versus what the reality can be.

Powerful, POWERFUL experiences that can change lives. That perhaps is the best lesson and gift one can receive at Christmas, having that chance to see through a different part of a life lens, isn’t it?

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Reflecting on Day 7 of Thanks- Blindly dedicated.

Looking back on a day of Thanksgiving yesterday, and yesterday being the 7th day of thanks for stories tied to XC and items to be thankful for as part of the Woodbridge High XC team – the 7th day of thanks in our series goes back to simply being thankful for the abilities we have – and honoring the achievements that many do not and still power through the obstacles laid before them. Definitely a lesson in there for each of us.

While at Brindywine’s 2021 XC State Championship, you may or many not have recognized the blind runner led by someone on a taut rope so he could stay on the path. Amazing. “The Creek” in itself is a tough enough course, and watching this runner, robbed of sight and yet conquering such a demanding XC course defined XC in a single pass quite easily. What is so difficult in a season of XC is what happens outside of the season, and sometimes yes, during. Being thankful for everything surrounding ourselves and setting aside our difficulties to be a better version of ourselves. I struggle with this daily and realize constantly what an imperfect person I am on an hourly basis, and the decisive factor is what will we do about this – and those that act on wanting to be a better person – usually makes all the difference. When you see athletes that do not have the ability of sight so dedicated, and committed, the lesson of what each of us are capable of rings home even more.

I wish I knew /remembered the team that this young man represented to express how admirable his run was on a day filled with wet, cold, and a path most challenging to those without any sight challenges, and yet, I am sure he has no regrets based on the stellar performance he was giving that day.

This brings us to an article about selflessness, sacrifice, and what team means, all things to be thankful for as well as the gift of sight.

Everyone on the Woodbridge High XC teams wishes you the best Thanksgiving week and is thankful for all your support, encouragement, and kudos during the meets and practice as we continue to grow together!

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Heart and Soul.

Day 6 celebration of what to be thankful for tied to XC? Another lesson in how XC reinforces the fact that life – is meant to show you should never give up. Being first is one small aspect of XC, a goal, but not everything there is to XC. Woodbridge High XC hopes to show that everytime our athletes step on the course.

The story of Noah, showing how individuals can be taught up in the negative, and turn it into a positive.

Excuses versus putting the time in and making a change.

Noah Lambrecht.

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Unstoppable

Looking at Tuesday’s Woodbridge High Cross Country thanks story, I am choosing a personal tie. Evan Offstein, our class President from the class of 1990, and his family, has had quite a journey since the advent of the fight he has seen his daughter, Molly, work through.

But what a journey it has been.

It is often difficult to put into words to athletes how precarious their potential for a best run, a best season, and a best year can be so delicate when other forces can unexpectedly change the trajectory of their lives, sight unseen. Molly’s journey has been an amazing one, and continues to be a lesson on capitalizing on every second, minute, and PR life thrown your way.

The way you deal with diversity, respect those that paved your path, and honor them while you honor your abilities at the moment, priceless. Glad to see the successes that have come your way Molly on and off the XC course and way to go Offstein family! Proud of your while family and lucky to be your BHS alumni peer 🙂

Molly Offstein’s story

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One for Another

Day 4 brings us to this Nebraska Cross Country story – and what a story it is when you witness XC in real life.

Love this story and this has lessons from the very first section to the last.

Yet four of many reasons to be thankful as a XC runner on and off the course 🙂

Yes that is what XC is!

Kudos Brandon Schutt and Blake Cerveny!

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Justin Gallegos – Going the Distance Against the Odds

Day 3 of things to be thankful for from Woodbridge High’s XC team -as we lead up to Thanksgiving.

Justin Gallegos.

These two videos say it all and what we hope WHS’s XC team represents, supporting others and being thankful for the chance to be a part of a team and individual sport that both can grow from.

Justin Gallegos announcement as a Nike Sponsor

Justin Gallegos story

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Woodbridge High School XC Thanks story 2

Our thankful XC story – that of determination – is here to represent Saturday –

“There are three kinds of people in this world. You have the losers, the people who go with the flow and refuse to put in the extra work. You have winners, the type of character to be naturally good at what they do but only meet the expected requirements. Then, there’s the champion, the cream of the crop, the scarce few people that rise above the fine line of expected and conquer what is theirs. “

Ashlyn Keeney – 2019

and Ashlyn today:

stay tuned for Sundays story of thanks from the WHS XC team!

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Traditional Thankfulness.

When a XC athlete from our Woodbridge High team suggested us choosing articles that highlight thinks we should be thankful for – it sounded like – meh.

Meh – is actually WOW! I love this idea. So we start a new tradition as a XC team, leading up to Thanksgiving, that help highlight what we have experienced as a team in the past season, and what we should be reminded of, and thankful for, each season 🙂 Here is our first one to start off this new tradition 🙂

Leading up to Thanksgiving, the Woodbridge High School XC team will be sharing stories that are meant to be thanks for various things.Here is our first one an athlete shared –https://bit.ly/3Bghpdx 14-year-old Susan Bergeman has been pushing her older brother Jeffrey during her cross county races this season. “He’s excluded from a lot of things,” the Chippewa Falls 9th grader says. “This is something we can do together.”

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Mental Toughening

I was not prepared for the excellent and toughness I would see today.

Note to self – any – ANY time a meet will occur at Brandywine State Park, expect the unexpected. What started out as a perfect running day resembling the perfect running day two days before, where Woodbridge High School practiced and prepared for the DIAA State XC Championship at Brandywine State Park. We ended with bone-chilling shaking that reminded us that the unpredictable is always the expected and the predictable at Brandywine State Park when it comes to running.

There is much you try to do as a coach to prepare athletes for race day, and yet, this year’s WHS XC team has continued to defy those odds ad it leaves you looking back wondering how you were surprised as a coach after spending all season with these athletes.

Let’s set the scene, shall we? What looked to be a picture perfect day, turned into squalls of rain and wind that had the sound of a typhoon if you did not look around. When you did look around, the power of the winds challenged the existence of our tent even with all stakes, sides, and Brandywine rocks grounding us. This is all occurring 25 minutes before the start of the ladies DII race and we all wondered, what happened?

On the starting line, cold rain is pelting everyone seconds before the start gun, and athletes are asked to remove their already soaked coverings to be exposed to the elements even more with singlets and shorts. Not even being able to clearly SEE through their glasses or own eyes from the denseness of the rain, would usually deter most from even putting forth 1/2 of their best effort.

It was pretty much a mind and body numbing moment.

IN SPITE of these extreme odds against our ladies, at the 2 mile mark our ladies began passing people, soaked t the bone, cold, shivering, and yet they took advantage of the opportunities presented to them, alone and separated on a wet cold trail, and they passed one, then another, then another, and OF COURSE, the sun coming out on the ladies right before their finish. Seeing others stop, walk, even crying, and yet out ladies persevered and did none of these. It is rare to see the ability of athletes to dig deep on their own, when you do not see anyone from your own team to help motivate you half way through in such conditions, and yet, they did an more.

What you often cannot see or do not know is of more value than what you see or do not know. The night before, one call from one of our first year ladies came in letting me know she was sick, sick sick and so was her Mom. You always cringe when those calls come in and hope for the best. “Fluids, and rest, and more fluids!” Morning came, hour before departure, and she had to make a decision. As we pulled up she decided to come, feeling only slightly better, we grabbed Gatorade to get electrolytes on her, and along wth a second runner also not feeling the best, these odds also pitted themselves against what could have been a disaster. Instead, you had two first year runners, and four year runner who had been with us since the start of this XC program, who had visited Brandywine on that fateful, freezing day as well, and they turned out a performance that was worthy of any finish and top honor ever. They certainly took the same odds that life hands you on a daily basis and made their performance a statement of how strong mentally and physically they could be without any regrets. We could only wish for days like that – and I am confident on how they will handle adversity after seeing their grit and determined ability after this day.

When you look at the boys being surrounded by sun, at their start, yet handed a wet course, you wonder how on earth you would be able to master a course that teams from the very area Brandywine is located in run every day and you hang on. Not one single complaint made at the starting line was uttered (heck, we had SUN!)

and it took an individual as well as a team effort to bring our WHS boys team to 15th place out of 31 teams – when all odds against us were thrown our way. ON TOP OF THAT having our top runner place 15th OVERALL – huge huge achievement. That is the difficult aspect about XC – it is a team sport as well as an individual sport, as well as a perfect replica of how life hands you the hardest and yet the most rewarding moments. ON TOP OF THAT, having one of our runners represent our own Henlopen Conference, one of TWO runners to do so

– yes, on a day made for sheltering, our athletes did the opposite, they came to push through the elements and be successful. ON TOP OF THAT two of our athletes are in the running for being recognized as the two of the top 15 DIAA academic athletes in the Championship – (verdict is still out as we gather all the GPA’s in).

We have two runners that have been here since the inception of the XC program, seeing the highs and lows of their own and our struggles and achievements, new runners on the scene that daily struggle with the tasks and directions they are pulled in, and it is a complete understatement to stress how difficult it is to push all factors out of the way that are happening around you, when you step onto the starting line.

In and out of the classroom, a team is made from what can be seen, what can’t be seen, what can be prepared for, what can;t be prepared for, what is known, and what isn’t known.

I usually indeed point out specific names when specific feats of bravado occur, and yet, it seems not quite perfect to do so on this instance when there was truly not one single person that could not be granted a thank you and sense of gratitude for what they did at the DIAA XC State Championship this year. Every single athlete showed a mental toughness, a camaraderie, a resistance to odds placed against them and prevailing.

I often realize how much I carry with me when I run. I am not sure how many realize how many other runners think about this, and how much non runners realize this.

Personally, I carry aspects that got me into running from coaches that gave me the very essence of their being freely, and often not realizing they were giving me everything they had at the moment. If I am fortunate, I still get to see them on the courses as we meet again years later on the same fields we started on. in a few cases, I am at a loss to be missing these very coaches that passed on so many gems of wisdom that related to life and the run, and they are not here to see how we have taken them to reality today. We miss them and we carry them to each of our meets.

I often try to eliminate everything else that is happening in my life, and focus on the moment right in front of me, and if you let this happen as a runner, you can escape into a place that lets everything float away from you, even for just the time you are trying to whittle down right in front of you, and it is quite an opportunity that does not appear too many times.

Coaches form other teams, athletes from other teams, parents from this team and other teams, all recognizing the achievements and tribe feeling o f being a runner on a harsh day, as well as the best days. It is what binds us as XC runners.

Walking away each season is heard, but with the countless lessons that are capable of being learned, the hope as a coach is that the sacrifices, time, energy, insight, and attempts to be prepared, even when you are not, remain in each athlete as they go forward. I do believe I saw many of these aspects travel with each athlete on Saturday, and could not be prouder!

It is an honor to be part of a sport that lets you reflect on where you have been, where you are right now, and where you are headed, and have an integral part of how to change aspects of all of those from within!

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Tuning into the Meaning of Leadership

With a recent Florida State University graduate class assignment on defining leadership – I waited util the day of the due date, (hate doing this usually) as I struggled with, within my lifetime, what I have seen as negative and positive leadership, and looked for the leadership I hoped to find.

I found that my definition for this assignment, of leadership, was the qualities I hoped to instill in others around me, the leadership skills I began to see in my Cross Country team, and the hope that these young leaders began to take take on more and more responsibility. I am proud of the responsibility these young people have undertaken, and the way they handle a level of responsibility when they struggle, and then learn from it. The last two weeks have truly taught me much about how I need to grow as a leader, and how others have.

I also see how NOT to be a leader, and often it frustrates me when I see other students always play the superior card, putting down others, talking down about others, and acting as if they know eery single facet of life, and realized, there is a difference in hypothesizing about how everything connect and works versus stating how everything works and knowing everything. Many fail to realize how the difference in these two approaches impacts others around them, and sets a tone of their own personality.

I also have been learning to make adjustments to my own life in how I want to be be perceived as a leader, and always want to be perceived in the light of being a leader with and among others at the same time, not simply a lone leader, not my preferred approach. Here was the result of my assignment:

LIS5442; INITIAL LEADERSHIP ESSAY; Harry Brake

“The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.” John Buchan

In training to become an educator for my first Bachelor’s Degree, I vividly recall, looking back, what I had NOT been prepared for and that truly defined my ability to become a successful teacher. After perusing many examples, definitions, and theories, I see the quality of leadership being the ability to adapt to situations, while bringing others through scenarios successfully.

Sparked by Mike Myatt’s approach of Hacking the Leadership Gap I was drawn to the new terminology and perspective tied to leadership. I realized THAT defined the best idea of leadership. Leadership was defined by what it was NOT, not by the history of leadership, not dependent on past individuals that were considered leaders, and definitely not on what the public considers a leader.

Certainly, a mix of the above characteristics helps form a partial definition of leadership, but I realize leadership is the ability to move, motivate, and help individuals that surround you, helping them advance as well as yourself. Truly moving “ahead” or advancing in skills, abilities, and projects, leadership depends on others, fails when only others are pushed by one, and yet is successful when one individual is able to move others along with themself.

The changing history, scenarios, and projects that present themselves on a daily basis challenge any individual.   Having someone willing to guide, suggest, and lead another through solutions, and doing so with the utmost flexibility, procures leaders that are not in front us, but among us.

Clawson, J. G. (2012). Level Three Leadership: Getting below the surface, 5th edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

In writing this, as I wrote, maybe it has been that the time I have spent this year with the Cross Country team has been different in seeing so many new layers of leadership rise to the surface – but the team and examples of this was al that came to mind. It was reassuring to get the comments below from colleagues to their result of this definition:

“Hello! That is such an awesome quote! It really speaks to what a leader should strive for, bringing out the best in people. I honestly believe that knowledge and reflection on what you do not know, really does influence how you become a leader; it assists you in focusing on making the next set of leaders that much better; with that much more knowledge. 

The idea of moving others along, and furthering your own leadership at the same time also makes a lot of sense to me. When one is placed into a leadership role, they often seek out advice, assistance, and motivation from others, some could be previous mentors and leaders, while others might be peers; thus bringing them to the level of leaders in some instances. Talking through ideas and calling on the “right people for the job” aids in leadership skills as well for both leaders and aspiring leaders alike. The ideal of everyone being a leader is something that I strived for when I was teaching, but kindergarteners are more interested in leading the line than leading the world; well some of them were ready to take on the world; and those students pushed me to be a better teacher and leader. “

and

“Hi Harry,

I really like the optimism your quote evokes. We do not seem to really see that in a lot leadership these days, often times it feels like a cog in the machine. It most certainly goes hand in hand with your future of becoming an educator; I can only imagine the amount of encouragement and appreciation your pupils must feel by having an educator apply that principal to them.

You truly have an optimistic and altruistic outlook on leadership, it is very refreshing. One of the qualities that would extend to this type of leadership would be humility and unfortunately truly humble people do not pursue leadership roles as aggressively as self-centered attention seekers. Leading to the ongoing cycle of management using their employees as cogs or pawns in political games. I really hope that we will start seeing an influx of leadership that takes this type of thinking to heart. The overly used trope of rising waters raises all ships come to mind; if the leader can influence the “water” by pushing their employees to continue to move their own bar, the aggregate of a team or even company could be improved overall.

I’m hoping that I will remember your viewpoint and take your optimistic outlook forward as I grow into my own leadership roles.”

I realize I have as many adjustments in myself to the differing leaderships roles I react to, as well as how I send those qualities out. I feel lucky I work with a Cross Country team that evokes all these thoughts on leadership, and that says alot to me 🙂

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