I asked Kristen to play catch because I knew she would understand.
A soccer player in college, she was once the only girl on her Boys & Girls Club baseball team.
“I was the only ponytail on the field.”
Twenty-five years ago, Kristen was the president of my senior class at Kickapoo High School. She’s compassionate and funny and absolutely brilliant. She helps coach the Speech and Debate Team at Central HS and I was glad she was near when Kaylea went away on overnight trips. During the summers, she teaches swimming lessons and she’s trying to talk me into coaching a youth baseball team. Kristen is also Joel’s mom (Day #90) so she knows firsthand about the ridiculousness of Catch 365.
Kristen and I had countless classes together during our four years at Kickapoo. She was always quick to speak up, to offer her thoughts and insights to whatever we were studying. I always thought she was fearless. My goal was to make it through class without saying a single word.
On Saturday, I learned that one of my favorite teachers passed away — Mr. Nichols. Mr. Nichols believed in me long before I believed in me. Mrs. Nichols contacted me and asked if I would be willing to say a few words at his memorial service. My eyes welled up with tears as I shook my head yes; it took me a few moments to be able to speak.
Kristen also loved Mr. Nichols.
“Taking his class made me want to learn, to really learn, not just play the high school game.”
I knew exactly what she meant. Mr. Nichols was a true-to-life Mr. Keating from Dead Poets Society. He made you want to be a better you.
“I recently referenced him with the sophomores I’m teaching,” Kristen said. “He’s the reason why I majored in English, the reason why I teach English. When I became an English teacher, I became a little disillusioned. I couldn’t replicate the experience of his class. My respect for what he did professionally increased exponentially.”
In his class, we read and we wrote.
“To Mr. Nichols, books were more than just books. Books were insights into life. He encouraged us to find the truth of humanity in the stories we read. He always had such high expectations for all of his students.”
On my bucket list is to write a book that Mr. Nichols would have considered teaching in his class.
The memorial service is at 6:30 at Wesley United Methodist Church on Republic Road. After the service, I’ll update this post with a transcript of what I shared.