The Three “Ls”: Luck, Learning, Lifting

Athletic Director Bob Howe provides insights and updates about Deerfield Athletics here on Bob’s Blog!


Deerfield’s 219th Commencement is now a part of the school’s history and all this week our underclassmen will prepare for and take their final exams before heading home for the summer. This is that time of year that I take a deep breath and spend time rethinking the events of the past school year. I’ll forever remember this year as the year with no hockey rink and all the planning and cooperation from others here on campus that allowed our four teams to play complete schedules in three different rinks. Memories like this serve as great reminders of the special kind of community we live in here at Deerfield.

Athletically, we had a great spring with so many of our teams finding great successes. Baseball, softball, boys and girls tennis, and water polo all competed in post season tournaments. We had two gold medalists—Josh Stevens in discus and Victoria Patterson in the girls 1500-meter run—at the New England Track and Field Championships. The girls and boys lacrosse teams both dominated their opponents all spring, posting records of 12-2 and 13-2 respectively. Boys rowing nearly swept the field at the NEIRA Championships winning gold in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th boats and taking the team championship. Girls rowing had their 2nd boat win gold at the same championship event. Both teams have qualified to compete in Nationals the weekend of June 8 in Sacramento, California. The golf team went undefeated in match play finishing with a record of 15-0. Our junior varsity teams also had fantastic seasons, finishing with a combined overall record of 44-17-3. Deerfield teams represented the school so well every day we competed this spring.

The summer season is now upon us and I find that this is always a great time of year for our returning students to recalibrate their goals for the next year and to think about all the different ways they can make next year even better than the one they just had! At the very least, it’s a good time to take stock of where they are at in their Deerfield journey and begin to strategize on personal goals. It’s here that I’d like to share what I call the three “Ls”: essential ways of thinking that help keep community at the forefront while achieving personal goals. Our teams and our community benefit when students commit to a shared experience and take the focus off of themselves.

“L” number one is luck. None of us should forget how lucky we are to be at a place like Deerfield with so many opportunities given to us. Our students are lucky to be surrounded by so many caring teachers and coaches. When students fully understand their circumstances and how fortunate they are to be at a place like Deerfield, they are more likely to take advantage of all the talent that surrounds them here. Sometimes students arrive to the campus completely aware of this privilege, and for others this may take a while. I look for this in students all the time. My best players—the best teammates to others—are those students who understand the notion of how lucky they are. When students understand this, they tend to be more confident and take the risks that are essential for personal growth.

The second “L” is learning. At a place like Deerfield, learning happens everywhere and all the time. Students live with classmates from all over the world with diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences. We can learn new things that are valuable in shaping who we become, particularly if we keep our minds open to new ideas and commit to contributing wherever we can in this community.   Lessons that are learned in class are only one of the ways that life skills can be learned. Participation on teams, in co-curricular activities, and in the dorms can make the Deerfield experience that much more educational. I’ve always felt that the more activities you can involve yourself in, the more you can learn from others. In a community that requires students to participate in after school activities, the opportunities for growth increase tremendously!

Lastly, “L” number 3 represents lifting. One of your goals as a student, faculty, or staff member of this community should be to lift up those around you. When you support others, you are contributing not only to your own set of skills, but you are also raising the expectation of others in themselves. Good teams and communities have leaders who lead by example and pay attention to the less-experienced and less-skilled. By paying attention to those around us we develop skills that help make us better. Here at Deerfield we place high value on the ability to work effectively within a group. This is true regardless of your role within the group. All too often, people make the mistake of thinking they aren’t in a position to lead. We can all help make a team, a dorm hall, or a class better just by helping to complete a task or making contributions with a positive attitude. Not everyone can be a designated leader, but we are all capable to lead others.

Never forget the impact you can have on people younger than you when you pass by them in the hall, or interact with them at a practice. We tend to forget this, but when we do remember we give confidence and energy to all those around. When someone makes a mistake, work with them to make things better and everyone will benefit in the end. Participation in athletics can teach us many life skills and helps prepare us for active and productive lives.

This summer I would like to encourage everyone—not just Deerfield’s student athletes—to take some time to reflect upon this past year and come up with some things that went really well for you. After you’ve done that, then think of events that could have gone better for you. What are some of the ways you would handle the not-so-good events better if given the opportunity? You will be a better contributor on the court and in the classroom if you can train yourself in the three “Ls”. Remember that community building starts with sharing, leading by example, and learning from others. Everything we are taught to do when we put on a Deerfield uniform!

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