“And where should you be right now?”
The words echo in my head. Delivered by a deep, definitive voice. A voice that made my heart race and my sixteen-year-old palms start to sweat. Even if I hadn’t done anything wrong.
It’s been years since I’ve seen the man who spoke those words. I remember him having a solid frame, a head that sat right on his shoulders and an icy glare that did most of his talking for him.
Jerry Wilcox was the assistant principal of my high school and the very successful head coach of the boys’ varsity basketball team. My interaction with him was pretty much limited to the seven words that began this essay. And every time it was asked of me, I would reply timidly; fully aware that the extent to which my neck was turning red and blotchy was directly proportionate to how much trouble I could be facing.
Was I afraid of him? Yup. But what I felt more strongly than fear, was respect. I respected him for the principles of order, civility and good manners that served as his foundation. I respected that he demanded personal accountability, encouraged leadership skills and acknowledged effort.
All of this entered my mind because a close friend from high school made me aware of a scholarship fund that was recently established in Mr. Wilcox’s honor. The scholarship fund will support a student committed to Catholic education who embodies the qualities of leadership, service and life-long learning. (Scroll to the bottom for more information on the Coach Jerry Wilcox Scholarship Fund.)
Transported by memories, I’ve been lost in reverie for the last couple of days. Reminded, again, how much I loved my Catholic school education and how it helped define me. I’ve been feeling wistful for a world that celebrated civility and good manners. I’ve been pining for a place that demanded personal accountability. And I’ve been repeatedly asking myself, “Where should you be right now?”
Up until this point in time, the outline of my life’s narrative was pretty clear; set by unwritten tradition and my own personal desire: get an education, get a job, fall in love, get married, have kids, raise kids, send kids to college, retire, travel the world.
Sadly, other life events disrupted that narrative leaving me to wonder where should I be right now? And inexplicably, over the last year, I have felt my inner voice return to the timidity of my sixteen-year-old self with the sweaty palms and the blotchy neck.
My teenage self benefitted from a talented English department that taught me how to construct a valid argument and from a Speech Club that taught me how to debate. My adult self lives in a world where debate has been reduced to personal attacks, ridicule and talking over one another.
My teenage self felt safe in a world that seemed civil and fair, compassionate and open minded. Naïve? Maybe, I was. But my adult self refuses to become jaded by the traditional and social media depictions of a world that is anything but civil or fair. My adult self refuses to be dragged down into the nadir of social, political and personal discourse that prefers attacks over facts, that is paralyzed by close-mindedness and that is fueled by narcissism.
Now, as a new empty nester, I have all the time in the world to find my voice, rewrite my narrative and maybe answer the question, “And where should you be right now?”
Coach Jerry Wilcox Scholarship Fund
A newly created scholarship fund has been established by generous benefactors in the Bishop Ludden community.
Benefitting a rising freshman, the Coach Jerry Wilcox Scholarship Fund supports a student committed to Catholic education with a strong B+ GPA, demonstrates a financial need, and embodies the qualities of leadership, service and life-long learning.
Establishing a scholarship fund in honor of Coach Wilcox was one way for Chair, Patrick Driscoll ’85 to help other give back to the community and leave a lasting impact on education; much like Coach Wilcox did for his students. “In speaking with alumni, many of whom were student-athletes at Bishop Ludden, we felt it was imperative to honor the legacy of a gentleman who led by example to ensure the success of students at Bishop Ludden Jr. Sr. High School. The lessons we learned from him some years ago are the same lessons we have applied in our daily lives,” said Patrick Driscoll.
Since his early days at St. Brigid’s, graduating from Cathedral Academy, and later Niagara University, it was only fitting that Coach Wilcox would begin his career at Bishop Ludden High School. Starting out as a Business Teacher, Dean of Men and Junior Varsity Men’s Basketball Coach, it was clear Wilcox had found his niche. For the next 17 years Wilcox developed strong ties and built lasting relationships with the Ludden community. Wilcox later went on to pursue a degree in administrative education and became Associate Principal and Dean of Student Services; and an award winning 14 years as Men’s Varsity Basketball Coach.
“Coach served as both a successful administrator and coach at Bishop Ludden, serving the needs of many families who entrusted their children to Bishop Ludden High School. He emphasized the importance of hard work, respectfulness and leadership both in the classroom and on and off the courts and fields,” said Driscoll.
To date, over 15 memorial and honorary scholarship funds have been established at Bishop Ludden through families and benefactors looking to assist future Gaelic Knights.
To discuss setting up a fund that meets your charitable interests, or to contribute to an existing fund, please contact Andrea Marshall, Director of Development, 315.468.0053 or firstname.lastname@example.org