Coach Ann DeBoe spoke to Middle School students last week about some childhood experiences that can only be described as, "It seemed like a good idea at the time." The goal of her Upwords speech was to share lessons in integrity, independence and embracing experiences, three themes included in our Guiding Principles.
As a fifth grader, Ann loved to ride her bike everywhere: school, the swimming pool in the summer, delivering newspapers, and especially on every dirt trail in the neighborhood. There was one trail, however, that her parents forbid her to ride. It was too steep and too dangerous. Ann would sit and watch the older kids ride the jumps, catch air, do tricks. She wanted to join them, but she wasn't allowed.
One day when no one else was home, Ann got an idea. She rode her bike to the top of the forbidden trail and, mustering up all the courage she had, headed down at high speed straight toward a jump. Mid air, Ann realized that she never paid attention to how the older kids landed the jumps. She hit the ground, somersaulted several times and finally stopped with a lot of bumps and bruises (as immortalized in her school portrait that year). It seemed like a good idea at the time.
The worst part was walking home and facing her parents to admit she disobeyed them. But she did it.
By eighth grade, Ann was a little older and a little wiser, but she still made mistakes. One, in particular, involved the school bully, the school principal and some water balloons.
"Peter" was two years older and just plain mean. He threw rocks at other kids, stole their lunches, pushed kids around and picked on everyone. One Friday afternoon, Ann and her friends were out on their bikes having an innocent water balloon fight. They spotted Peter and got the idea to bring back balloons and get their revenge.
They returned armed with the ammunition. Peter was nowhere to be seen, but they saw his white car. So they took aim and threw the balloons, landing them in the street just beside the bully's vehicle. The impact startled a nearby skunk who "did his thing" on the car. Giddy with success, they rode away as fast as possible and went on with their weekend.
Come Monday morning, Ann was called into the principal's office. She soon learned that it was the principal's white car that got skunked, not Peter's. Retribution included a "thousand apologies," scrubbing the car and ultimately using her newspaper route money to have the vehicle thoroughly detailed. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
"I could tell you a lot of stories but instead I will close with this. I encourage you to embrace your experiences and take risks. Listen to that voice of warning inside you and when you do make a mistake, have integrity and own up to it," Ann concluded.