November 16, 2009
Last weekend we saw and experienced some unusual things. For one, the weather on Sunday was great—warm with some periods of bright sun, a day much more reminiscent of early October rather than mid-November. In addition, Gateway had both the boys and girls soccer teams competing for the Western Massachusetts Division III title. In two games that demonstrated the heart and soul of our student athletes, our students went all out in their quest for dual titles. I’m sure by now that everyone knows that the girls, with a 1-0 score, won their Western Mass. Title but that the boy’s team wasn’t quite able to clinch their title spot.
However you look at it, I think the fact that both teams were in the finals was a very positive occasion for the entire district. The fact is that this type of event doesn’t happen solely due to the magic of high school athleticism, but rather builds upon years of student work before high school and the efforts of many volunteers in both the recreational and Pioneer Valley athletic leagues. The adage that it takes a village to raise a child applies to a wide range of activities including sports. As we continue to move forward to support our children, it’s important to remember, and thank, all of the individuals that add so much to our children’s lives in terms of sports, recreational, public service and religious activities, for truly these experiences help develop the outstanding students we work with in the district schools.
I would also be remiss in not mentioning the support shown these teams by alumni, parents, students and staff before, during and after the games this weekend. The stands were packed with a great cross-generational segment of our seven towns and the focus was squarely upon our student athletes. It was wonderful to see so many people as well as a great representation from administrative, teaching and support staff at the games. The turnout from both the towns and schools continues to demonstrate the support, caring and development of the whole child that has long been supported in the Gateway District.
I’d also like to thank the Russell and Huntington Fire Departments, the Hilltown Community Ambulance Service, the Russell State Police Barracks and the Huntington Police Department for the wonderful and greatly appreciated ‘escort’ provided to the soccer teams as they returned from this momentous occasion. Given those escort vehicles and the large number of supporters’ vehicles following the bus, this was one of the larger parades through Russell and Huntington. I know from speaking to several of the players that this support was very welcome and made the occasion even more memorable.
The sportsmanship, efforts, positive outlook and scholarship of all of our student athletes, regardless of the sport, season or overall success of the individual or team, speaks volumes about the quality, hard work and dedication of our students. Given the range of student activities, both within and beyond the athletic realm (think student government, music, drama, clubs, As Schools Match Wits, etc.), and the support of the staff and community, I believe that Gateway continues to offer a well-rounded education for the youth of our seven communities. My thanks to everyone who truly makes a difference in the lives of our children.