Head of School Blog
Susan Tyree Dempf, Ph.D.

An Olympic Moment

I will admit…I am a bit sleep deprived these days. You see, I love the Winter Olympics! Since the Opening Ceremonies, I have been drawn to watch the events of the day in Pyeongchang. I attribute this compulsion to years spent at the ice rink as a child, skating competitions in Lake Placid (site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics) and a passion for political history associated with the Modern Olympic Games. Toss in a deep appreciation of John Williams’s Olympic Fanfare and Theme, the pristine beauty associated with the settings of the Winter Games and the indelible childhood memory of Vinko Bogataj’s epic ‘agony of defeat’ fall that opened each episode of ABC’s Wide World of Sports and you have the makings of a grown up Winter Olympic Games junkie.

The Olympics allow me to appreciate the commitment of the athletes and their families, to be in awe of the courage with which the competitors ‘attack the mountain,’ and to marvel at the applied physics of half pipe snowboarding and engineering of the bobsleds. And so the other night when one of the commentators noted that an athlete’s “life” came down to what happened in a 2-minute and 50-second performance, it got me thinking … is that really so different from each us?

When we look back at our greatest opportunities, are they not really a series of moments in which we made wise choices? To greet a stranger? To stop and help? To go or to stay? To respond with generosity? To pose a question or not? To reply in the affirmative or not?  To take the road less traveled or to stay on the known path? These are but a few moments in a lifetime—but they shape our story.

Perhaps my love of the Games comes down to something other than the speed, the grace and the athletic abilities displayed after all. Perhaps I find them compelling because they offer a time when we appreciate that others too live their lives with an understanding that hard work is its own reward and that how we carry ourselves in triumph and in disappointment are equally important. Perhaps I love these days because they offer a brief period of time during which we collectively understand that doing your best and sharing your gifts is the reward.

Dr. Dempf

February 22, 2018