It seems just the other day that Boy in Black was giving his high school valedictory speech. But if you remember him giving that speech, that means you’ve been reading this blog for four years. He graduated from college today, with degrees in physics and math.
Boy in Black hasn’t really changed much. The outfit he wore to the Scholars Reception this afternoon was a black shirt, a black tie, and black pants, the same clothes he wore to awards ceremonies all through high school. He’s still got uncombed dark hair that hangs into his face; he’s still tall and skinny and gentle, with an easy-going manner. The math department gives an award to the best student in the department, and so does the physics department. He won both awards. And he’s already begun work towards a PhD in Physics at Snowstorm University. He’s as academically gifted as he ever was.
The biggest change, his biggest gain from college, was not in the classroom, but on the Ultimate Frisbee field. When he entered college, he was just learning the sport, just learning all the throws and rules of the game. He didn’t even own a pair of cleats. Now he’s obsessed.
Ultimate taught him all kinds of skills. He learned how to coach, how to teach, how to be a leader. During an injury that took months to diagnose, he learned how to be assertive with doctors and how to trust his instincts about his body. As one of the captains of the team, he learned how to deal with paperwork, get practice fields, set up tournaments, order jerseys, and collect money from teammates. He learned how to sleep on the floor of a small hotel room, wedged between other sleeping bodies. He learned how to handle frustration, disappointment, and elation.
Boy in Black will continue to play Ultimate as a grad student. Each player gets five years of eligibility so he’s got another year. His plans for this summer include research in computational physics with his major professor, but more importantly, “learning nasty Ultimate skills.” I wonder if Snowstorm University, when they gave him a scholarship four years ago, realized that his most valued lessons would take place in a grassy field with a bunch of other students and a ten-dollar disc.