The baseball team "snuck" into the regional playoffs of the NAIA World Series this week by a tremendous showing at the KCAC conference tournament. LaRee and I were able to go to Oklahoma City to watch them play. We won one game and lost two, so we are home now.
This was initially a disappointing season for our perennially strong program. We struggled to stay above .500 on the season. Through our placing in the KCAC tournament we were able to win the second spot in the playoffs from our conference.
Today was the last chapel. Keeping with tradition, it was praise chapel where we just sing for the entire chapel and end with a prayer. Since we have assigned seating in chapel, students are given a moment to move wherever they like before we start singing. It is a "fruit basket turnover" to use an old phrase. For a few moments there is bedlam before things settle down and the singing starts.
Today something unique happened. I often try to sit down front during praise chapel because the singing is so beautiful and there are fewer distractions. Today was especially meaningful because it was our last chapel and our last praise chapel. One of our seniors came stood next to me on the front row, which was otherwise all faculty and staff members. She stood between Dr. Mountjoy and me. She said she just wanted to spend the last chapel beside us. I was touched and honored.
Four times in the last couple weeks I have had people share thoughts about their YC experience. What they had in common was a bit surprising. One of the four was a recent alumnus and the other three were current students, one of whom will graduate this Saturday.
All four said that growing up, they had few rules. Three came from broken families and they were now mature enough to see that their parent(s) overcompensated by giving them few restrictions. When they came to York, they initially chaffed at all the "stupid rules" we have here. One indicated that they usually went out to have a few drinks after a game before they transferred to York. It was easy not to do that here because of our rules, but that it was unusual and unexpected. Another student talked about their father being incarcerated and how they usually did whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. Both of these students continue to struggle with habits they acquired before coming to York, which they thought were the norm.
What a great weekend we had for Panther days. Lots of high school students checking out the school as well as alumni here for the President's Council. This year's Songfest was a phenomenal show and a great success.
This semester at the President's Council, we asked a few students to come and informally answer questions and interact with alumni. The intent was to show alumni that the "York Experience" was still intact, in spite of a different current culture and much more diverse student backgrounds.
I noted today that Jake Sola has been named baseball player of the week in our conference (KCAC). Jake is a transfer who came to us in the fall. He is one of those who immediately fell in love with YC and started to get involved. He was baptized last semester and actually spoke in split chapel last week. Quite a journey in a short amount of time.
It has been a pretty amazing week at YC. We are headed to the first round of the conference playoffs in basketball, won the conference wrestling meet with 5-7 wrestlers headed to the national tournament, and today we announced in chapel that we had 22 all-Americans in track with three national championships and numerous second place finishes.
LaRee follows several of our former students on Facebook after they graduate and move on. Last week she received a reply that made me think more about life here. I often think about what makes this place different than other colleges, including ones that I have worked for. The York Experience that we like to talk about is unique because our small size requires that we reinvent the culture in some ways every year. You don't come to fit in at YC, you come to help create what that experience is going to be each year.
Today I had lunch with a couple graduating seniors in the cafeteria. Not planned, just sat down at their table. One was a transfer, the other came as a freshman. They talked about their time at YC. They really have nothing in common except friendship. They met each other through activities and events on campus and eventually became close. The transfer talked about friends she had before, who she now sees as acquaintances because she never experienced the depths of lifelong friendships that she gained here. I was reminded of recent posts I read on Facebook of alumni sharing moments that led them to friendships here.
It has been an interesting year, to say the least. As I sit in my office and enjoy the quiet of Christmas break, I already miss the students and wish they were back. However, with temperatures hovering in the single digits, it's probably best they aren't here right now.
Each year is different at York College. I shared with the students in opening chapel this year that one of the unique qualities of York College is the fact that you don't come to York to adjust yourself and fit in to the culture, we recreate it every year. Because of our size, each person here makes a difference as to how the year progresses. That difference can be an influence for good or not. There have been disappointments this year. Students who have made poor choices that impact not only them, and their friends, but the entire campus. But God has also blessed us with those who step up and make a change for the better and help to transform this place. Even the things that are not positive can be transformed by God into a blessing, and He has proven that again and again.
I know I tend to say something about this every year, but hearing the students sing for the first time each year in praise chapel does something to me. On Fridays I prefer to sit in the front and let the sound wash over me. Today was also special in that they sang one of my favorite songs, "The Greatest Commands."
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.