Spring Break

A needed break for teachers and students alike.

As a teacher, I always enjoyed the week refresher to reset, recollect, and reconvene to rock the last two months.

As a track coach, spring break can be brutal. Often times you get the team going, and then break comes and the week is a step back. Thankfully this year is an early break, so practices haven’t started.

As a dean, I see the students who really don’t want that break. A week away from school is a week away from the most consistent part of their lives.

Ill be thinking of these students a lot over the next eleven days, and eagerly await their return on April 3.


All set? You bet.

This phrase used to be the start of every interval of every speed workout in college.  We wouldn’t wait for a coach, we were conditioned to work together.  On one person’s “All set?” the rest of the group would reply, “You bet.”

This glue that was built from day one, enhanced the oneness that was Cardinals Cross Country and Track and Field.  That oneness continues still today as the chants of “NCC” can be heard from coast to coast as the newest Cardinals claimed our fifth indoor Nationals title and eleventh overall Track and Field Nationals crown.

My brother in law ran there almost a decade before me, but we both enjoyed that sweet feeling of victory as we have many times before.  It was a great way to start the track season for me, and a motivating feeling of togetherness for all us former harriers.

Would you rather?

Today I had the privilege of playing a quick game of would you rather with one of our 1-3 classes.  This class is always good for laughs, energy, and enthusiasm.  They sure did not disappoint with this game.

The class was working on phrasing questions and comparing two things that were either both desirable or both undesirable.  For example, would you rather see a rhinoceros or a giraffe?

They asked of animals, mythical creatures, professions, and sports’ teams.  They asked of specific players, specific animals, specific super heroes, and specific tasks.

It was quite an experience.  It closed on my favorite one, and the reason I had to make my slice about it.

“Mr. Nolan, you’re Irish right?  Would you rather be a lucky, lucky leprechaun who finds a piece of gold every time he spends a piece of gold, or a monster?  You know, not the bad kind, but more of a friendly monster who everyone wants to be friends with, like Sully.”

Now THAT is a would you rather!


The dreaded metric mile.  Every distance runner’s favorite part of tryouts is every thrower, jumper, and sprinter’s worst.

As a coach, it is my favorite part of tryouts. Sure it lets you see who has endurance. But more importantly, it shows who has heart.

There are the kids who go out fast to try and impress and end up throwing up or walking after one lap.

There are the sprinters who are too cool for school and jog the whole thing.

There are the natural distance runners who breeze through it.

But my favorite by far are the throwers. These kids have heart. Today we had three kids who aspire to be throwers. All three busted it, ran the entire distance, and showed more guts and determination than ninety percent of the sprinters.

Sign them up, and sign me up for coaching more great kids!

So much honesty

There is a student at school who I have seen grow up a ton over the past four years. He has always been a busy kid and this used to get him in a great deal of trouble.

He would often be in the dean’s office for spontaneous and impulsive behavior. He came to Central Park, and quickly became known to everyone who came in contact with him.

He had some struggles, but for the most part acclimated well and really took to the school, his teachers, and classmates. His brutal honesty was what made his character really stand out.

Sure, he still was in the dean’s office from time to time. But they were always quick trips. He never wanted to lie or even tried to, because he knew doing so would keep him away from where he wanted to be most, in class.

To this day, I do not believe he has once tried to lie his way out of something, good or bad, and that is a feat in itself.


March Madness is one of my favorite sporting events to watch.  You never know, no matter how much you research, who will provide and upset or a Cinderella story.  You never know what school will roll through the tournament.  You never know who will be sent home early, or lose a game due to circumstances beyond their control.

I usually enjoy cheering on the Big 10, even though I personally have no connection to any of these schools.  This year, I went away from that, and no sooner did Wisconsin upset the best team!

I love watching the coaches, seeing who gets mad, who makes excuses, and who motivates their players.  I watched a game on the second day where the coaches were near polar opposites.  One well known coach is on his feet yelling at his team the entire game, for both good and bad.  The other coach, cheering on his team, pulling the players aside, giving them pats on the back or rubbing their head when they need the reminder of who has their back.

It was heartbreaking watching Northwestern be robbed of the momentum of their game.  I don’t usually support coaches getting upset, but Chris Collins sure was in the right for verbally protesting a clear missed call.  But no excuses were made, they will move on and they sure will be back next year.

Morning People

I have never considered myself a morning person. Morning runs have always been a struggle. Before I drank coffee, mornings altogether were a struggle.

But morning people sure can be contagious. We have several teachers and administrators in our building who certainly fall into this category (or at least fake it well.)

Nothing is better to start the workday  than an energetic “Good morning, Mr. Nolan!” It really sets the tone for whatever is going to come my way.

I try to copy this enthusiasm as much as possible, especially with the students. Seeing teachers successfully welcome students with enthusiastic greetings and smiles-I can only imagine how it makes them feel.