We didn’t have a lot growing up, and neither did the schools we went to. When my parents made the decision to send me to private school, there were a lot of differences: the higher academic standards, the passion and ability of the teachers, the extracurricular resources.
Those all made a big difference in my life – the academic challenge and resources dramatically changed my options coming out of high school. However, one of the most impactful things about the school is a little thing that had a big impact on me.
Before freshman year, I ran cross country to meet other students. One of the upperclassmen on the team was a guy named Matt. He wasn’t a fast runner, but was just getting in shape for wrestling season. One day he came up to me and said “Hey man, we’re having an open mat for the wrestling team on Saturday. You should come. I think you’d like it.”
I showed up that Saturday, and when I got to the door of the gym, Matt opened it and said “Hey – glad you could make it.” That’s the first time in my life I remember anyone outside of my family telling me they were glad to see me.
It was such a little thing for Matt to take an interest in me and treat me kindly, and I doubt he remembers it at all. But it was life-changing for me. I had never had a community where people cared about me and wanted me to do well.
Matt is a great example, but it wasn’t just Matt. When the first quarter honor roll was released and I was on it, a number of the upperclassmen congratulated me on it. When I finished my first race, when I wrestled my first tournament, they were there to cheer me on and congratulate me.
Those little instances of kindness (combined, of course, with the school community of parents, administrators, teachers, and peers) changed the course of my life.
I like to think that by providing uniforms for these great schools, we’re doing our little part to support strong communities. We’re doing our little part to help raise kind people who will go out and do great things in life, of course, but will also go out and do those little things that maybe nobody notices but one.