Spring ASC volunteers Ian Bucon ’06, Neil Murphy ’06, Kelly Coffman ’07
Mica Tacderan ’07 and Mr. Ted Skowron…den mother!
We were asked to briefly share our comments and thoughts on Community from the ASC perspective: Enjoy!
“Though in the past I have shared bedrooms and common spaces with roommates in various capacities, my experience this past year, has been a unique experience in community living. Neil Murphy ‘06, Kelly Coffman ‘07, and Ian Bucon ’06, were all present at Brophy when I also attended high school 6 years ago. Despite this, we all admittedly knew very little of each other. Neil and I were both on the Speech and Debate team, but rarely talked. Kelly and I were in the same class and also did not know each other very well aside from our names. And as for Ian, I did not know who he even was when we were students. And yet, in the span of a semester, we have found we have come to know each other very well.
The grace of living together in community has been getting to know these amazing individuals on a deeper level. I can hardly imagine getting to know these guys as well as I have this year, had it not been for the ASC program. The result has been amazing, and I feel like I truly have made friendships that are stronger than some of the ones I made as a student at Brophy. The best way to describe it is a community of companionship. Companionship in the sense of Ignatius and the early Jesuits who helped founded the society. We have a shared mission of service to Brophy, a sense of goodwill towards one another, and a common concern for the young men we are blessed to educate. And though they may not share my convictions to the same extent, I know for a fact that we all work Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.”
- Mica Tacderan ’07
“Living in the ASC house with three other young men who all come from different backgrounds and have various interests may seem like a difficult task, but each and every day we learn more about each other and grow closer to one another. Mica loves his computer games and sharing his stories about breakaway. Neil loves indoor rock climbing and eating nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (That is pretty much all he eats). Ian takes time out of his busy schedule to help coach the Lacrosse team. I assist Chad Unrein with the JV Baseball team. Both Ian and I work with the Loyola Scholars, while both Neil and Mica teach a classroom full of Brophy freshmen. So our experiences are very different, yet when we return to our house at the end of the day, we often share some of the same joys and challenges that we each faced during our time on campus. This is what makes being a member of the ASC community such a great learning experience for each one of us.
P.S. I challenged Mica to a round of golf at a course of his choice. Results will be posted in my next blog.”
-Kelly Coffman ‘07
“The ASC community is more than a ping pong table. It is more than a sink full of dirty dishes multiplying at an alarming rate. It’s more than hearing Neil blow his trumpet of a nose in the kitchen at 2am, more than the clatter of Mica’s keyboard at 3am, and more than Kelly’s alarm going off at 5:30 am every morning. The ASC community is more than a fernet cola shared with our Argentine roommate, more than a week-old carton of Uncle Sam’s wings courtesy of Ted Skowron, and more than a ten dollar, five pound package of Italian sausage that we try to make last through the week. It might be more than a having a place to commiserate about the long week of subbing, bus driving, freshman class teaching, and breakout leading over a cold beer.
The ASC might seem like the aggregate of the above to the Brophy faculty and staff, or to any students or alumni who read this blog; but, by living intentionally with each other, we have been able to establish a deep communal fabric that enriches our shared experience in the program. We strive to live out our magis together by recognizing that our disparate backgrounds and pasts can enable each of us connect with the others and to grow as men. We entered the program from very different places and will certainly exit the program following very different paths, but without the whole of our community invested in our shared present, the ASC would not be possible.”
- Ian Bucon ’06
“Beyond my experiences as an undergraduate, I did not have much insight as to what it would be like to live in community with three of my peers. As I did not attend university in Arizona and as the majority of my friends had left the state by the time I returned to Brophy 6 years after graduation, I arrived in Phoenix far away from my primary centers of support – my family and friends in the Washington, DC area. While I developed friendships with the other Alumni Service members, I did not realize how lonely I would become in the first few weeks for those back east, and I would call home much more regularly than I did even when I was in college. Perhaps my distance was felt more strongly than the other three in the ASC cohort because they could go to their respective families’ homes on the weekends, but I felt a truly unexpected homesickness in the first month of the program.
However, this was fortunately overcome after I became closer with the other members upon sharing more time, experiences, and stories with one another. Throughout the day, I am most often with Mica in the Office of Faith and Justice, where our desks face one another and we work for eight or more hours at a time. As he now has begun teaching this semester, we are able to more equally share the many moments of joy and frustration in teaching freshmen. Ian and Kelly hold a unique bond, as they both work in the Loyola Academy, where days start the earliest and end the latest. Both serve as coaches for a spring sport, Kelly for JV baseball and Ian for JV lacrosse, and while these positions extend into the weekend for tournaments and games, I know they are leading the new generation of student-athletes well. While we all serve the Alumni Service Corps in different capacities and we all seem to be continuously moving from one responsibility to the next, the ASC is a unique and enriching experience, and its formative value is truly deepened by living in community with the other members.”
-Neil Murphy ’06
For most, retreats are an opportunity for removing oneself from life’s turbulence and transcending the distracting pressure of life’s momentum. Retreats allow people to take a step back in order to contemplate where they have been and where they are headed.
The faculty retreat in early January, my first day as a member of the Alumni Service Corps, was a drowning in the river of Ignatian Spirituality. My mind was beaten ragged with calls to pray, reflect, discern, meditate and examine ad nauseum. I hadn’t experienced such an insistent call to relax and release since making my Kairos back in high school. After years of vacation from spirituality (aside from sleeping through the occasional mass), I was thrust violently back into the world of connecting with God through self-examination.
The Jesuit leading the retreat related a story of Ignatius at Manresa. Ignatius was sitting at the river’s edge in the afternoon sun when he experienced a transcendental moment, a revelation of God’s love and of life’s deepest mysteries. Ignatius later claimed that this moment of transcendence revealed to him more in one instant than all of his previous or subsequent prayers and meditations. Sitting in the Franciscan Renewal Center, surrounded by my former Religion teachers, I imagined myself drowning in that same river, struggling to make it to the surface and straining to get a breath of air. Instead of transcendence and revelation, I found the tide of Jesuit Spirituality to be an overwhelming weight.
But Ignatian discernment is partly about letting yourself drown. Through total immersion in the process of examination and deliberation, you achieve a level of objective judgment previously unattainable. Suspend your disbelief. Discard your disordered affections. Let your mind clear. Embrace the indifference of complete surrender. Cultivate your inner freedom.
This spiritual examination is a gift that Brophy gives to each of its alumni. Because it was required of us, we surrendered to it. We did not need to question its worth, or its legitimacy, or its level of peer-reviewed coolness. We graduated as scholars of spirituality, yet even if we did not embrace and live out this mysticism through a call to action, it remains as a reservoir within us. When in need, with a little help, we can tap into it.
The following two days, starting at 6:00am and ending at 7:00pm, were a well-needed reprieve from this deluge of spirituality. I started working at the Loyola Academy, a program that ASC members have been exhaustingly involved in for the last two years. Every day, I am impressed by the Loyola scholars’ energy, their bonds of fraternity, and their enthusiasm for the 10 hour school day. The scholars receive the gift of Brophy’s academic and spiritual education, but Brophy asks more of them than any could ever have expected to give. It asks that they give themselves to the Loyola Academy, and later to Brophy. It asks that they embrace the call to serve, to be a man for others, and to be a graduate at graduation.
The Loyola Academy students and I are on similar paths. Do we surrender ourselves to the path in front of us? Do we give everything of ourselves and embrace the present?
The two most important lessons I learned at Brophy (that I soon forgot and am now being forced to re-learn) will surely become familiar to the scholars over the next few years:
It is about surrendering to the current, but not being swept away.
It is only through giving of ourselves that we are free to become who we are called to be.
As we begin our second semester here at Brophy, all I can really say is ‘where has the time gone?’ It seems like it was just yesterday when Neil, Mica and I met up at Streets of New York for our very first meal together, and now we have already completed our first semester back at Brophy. In the last 4 months we have had our share of ups and downs, but for the most part I must say that I have had a blast being back here on Brophy’s campus. As the new semester begins, we are also welcoming another former Bronco into the house. Ian Bucon, class of ’06, moved in just this past weekend and will be helping not only myself but also the other faculty members of the Loyola Academy.
After graduating from Brophy back in 2007, it has always been a dream of mine to come back and serve this community that has done so much for me and my family throughout the years. Along with substituting and teaching P.E. to the scholars of Loyola Academy, I have also been given the opportunity to coach the 6th and 7th graders in both flag football and basketball. It has been an honor and a privilege to share with these young men all of the knowledge that has been passed down to me through the years of playing sports. I played Baseball all four years during my time here at Brophy and had the opportunity to learn from some of the best coaches in the entire country. Even though Basketball and Baseball are two completely different sports, much of what I learned out on the diamond can also be used on the hardwood. In Baseball, everyone must compete until the very last out in order to be successful. The same goes for Basketball.
In two our last three 7th grade Basketball games before Christmas break, our Loyola Scholars have led for three and a half quarters, only to be beaten on a 3-pointer at the buzzer in one game and to lose by 4 in the other. At the conclusion of both of those games I told my players that I know for a fact that we are the better team, and I could see in their eyes that they believed it. Since then we have won three straight games, giving up an average of 12.5 points per game. We have two more games left in our regular season and our boys are looking forward to making a deep run in the playoffs.
Until next time,
Kelly Coffman ‘07
Greetings from the Alumni Service Corps,
The first semester is winding down, and I honestly can’t believe how quickly these past months have passed. While both Mica and Kelly attended school in Arizona and have stayed in the state since graduating from Brophy, I moved to the east coast for college, and my entire family left Arizona to reside in Annapolis, Maryland. Thus, the start of my tenure with the Alumni Service Corps was a whirlwind of emotions for me. I left my job in Washington, DC, moved back across the country away from my family and friends, and returned to Brophy for a year of teaching and service before beginning law school in fall 2013. As I arrived at Sky Harbour, I was filled with excitement about the prospect of returning to a place that was so formative for my youth, but I was also nervous about my capabilities as a Spanish teacher.
I had taught before, but only in the capacity as a weekend volunteer. I would now be responsible for teaching four days a week with the knowledge that what students learn in my class will serve as the foundation for their studies of Spanish for at least the next two years. This thought was daunting, and I immediately became uncertain as to the degree of my own fluency, constantly question whether how I spoke was indeed grammatically correct. After the first few days of teaching, the self-questioning began to subside, and I fell into a rhythm where my confidence slowly replaced doubt. Here I am at the end of the first semester, reviewing the final exam with my colleagues and knowing that my students are well-prepared. There have been bumps, but I know that I have done my best to learn from my mistakes.
When I am not teaching, I work in the Office of Faith and Justice with Mica. One of my primary responsibilities is coordinating the monthly service trips to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico through the Kino Border Initiative (KBI). This past Friday was the third of the year and our most popular, the parent-son trip. We left early, at 5:00 A.M., to drive straight to the United States-Mexican border. We were met by Fr. Neeley, SJ in Nogales, Arizona to ensure we arrived safely. He drove his truck back to the KBI soup kitchen where we would spend our morning, and I had the unusual role of leading us on foot into Mexico.
I had made the short trek twice before, though with Fr. Neeley’s guidance. As previously has been the case, we arrived without issue at the comedor, or soup kitchen, located two blocks inside the Mexican border. By the time we entered, there were already 5 or so migrants waiting in line for breakfast. Ultimately, we served 138 individual meals that morning, all to people deported to Nogales within the past 15 days.
After we finished washing dishes and distributing clothing to migrants, we walked to a women’s shelter owned by the Kino Border Initiative. As we entered the shelter, I spoke briefly to a woman I met a month earlier. When I first met her in November, she had been living in the United States for 13 years with her husband and three children. While riding in a friend’s car, her friend was stopped, and the police officer asked for identification, of which she had none. Following removal proceedings, she was deported while her children continued to live in the United States without their mother. I discovered that she had just returned to the shelter after being deported a second time the previous week for her most recent attempt to enter the United States to be with her family. Unfortunately, every story from the women in the shelter shares a similar thread of desperation: nearly all have family living in the United States, and all were working to make a better life until they were deported.
For me, the monthly Kino Border Initiative trips are days of witness, uniquely positioning each student and faculty member into direct contact with migrants to provide a human face to the complicated issue of immigration. Each trip provides the opportunity to reorient oneself from the casual position of an observer towards one of action and conviction, to take one’s reflections and experiences and cement them into an unrelenting and unwavering commitment towards the service of others.My time in the Alumni Service Corps has accomplished this task and so much more to an extraordinary degree. The support that I have received during my brief time at Brophy has been wonderfully generous, and while next semester will bring new challenges, I am eager to tackle these opportunities for growth.
Neil Murphy ‘06
Greetings from the Alumni Service Corps,
This is the second year of Brophy’s ASC program. The three members this year are Neil Murphy ’06, Kelly Coffman 07’ and myself, Mica Tacderan ’07. We have only yet begun the school year and it is rapidly approaching the mid-way point. It seems like quite a long time ago that we gathered together at Manresa for our opening retreat enjoying the relaxing atmosphere amidst our own fond memories of those grounds.
Coming back to Brophy has been an amazing experience for us already, and we are all very grateful for the opportunity to give back to a community which has given so much to us. Personally, I owe a lot of who I am today to Brophy, so it only seems fitting that I am back for a year of service.
The ASC guys this year have hit the ground running. Freshman retreat was the first week of this year and since then we have been keeping pace as best as we can. One duty which has kept me on my toes each week this October has been Freshman Breakaway.
This was the same role that my predecessor and graduating class mate, Caleb Alpaugh, undertook last year during his time with the ASC. I encourage you to read his post further down about the details of Freshman Breakaway if you are unfamiliar with it. I ask this for three reasons: First, it gives you a sense of his unique experience with Breakaway. Second, it has to do with a point I make later on. Finally, he already outlined what Breakaway was once before on this blog so I figured I might as well be lazy and redirect you to his post rather than outline it in my own, sorry! I also had the pleasure of being shown the ropes by Matt Williams, who was also in the ASC last year. It was great to get his input and advice on Breakaway and has really helped me get started with the process.
One question that I ask the students after every Breakaway is, “Why does Brophy think it is important for you to go on this day of service?” The answers the freshmen give run the gamut from helping change their perspectives to starting to build a culture of service in their lives. My simple answer is because we view it as “good” for the students, so long as they do what is intended “well”.
The complexity within that answer is much more personal and holistic: we do this to begin forming them into Men for Others, we do this to open them up to growth, we do this to see their conceptions of the “other” transform into ones of “self”, we do this to invite them into kinship with those they serve, we do this to help them see the value of every human person. We recognize all of these as good things for the students.
The assumption is that they do “well” during the activities and service opportunities provided to them from 8:00AM to 5:00pm on a given Tuesday. But what does that look like? Doing Breakaway “well” requires the same things that everything the OFJ organizes asks of us:
An open mind and an open heart.
And, in their own way, to their own degree of comfort, the students rise to the occasion every time. To me, seeing them act with open minds and open hearts is transformative every single time. Every Breakaway is a gift to me. As I tell the students, each Breakaway is a different experience for me. And just like my predecessor before me, I have yet to grow tired of them due to the variety of experiences we encounter and meaningful reflections they offer.
As I write this, it becomes even more evident of how the path ahead of me has been laid out for me by those who came before me to Brophy. The work done by Caleb, Matt, and all those who came before is evident in the OFJ in all aspects of what we do not just Breakaway. It speaks to the value of tradition of this institution as a whole, by all of those who help make it what it is today.
Being welcomed back to Brophy has been wonderful. I am excited for the rest of what this year will hold. One thing that I have come to realize this far is that: I have not given a year of my life to service; instead I have been given the year of my life by Brophy. And for that, I am grateful.
All My Best,
Mica Tacderan ‘07
As a former Brophy distance runner, I have joined the other side this year as an assistant coach for the Cross Country and Track teams. It has been a significant time commitment this year, but it has been one of the most rewarding activities that I have been involved with.
Almost every day after school, I change out my teaching clothes and into my coaching clothes. Some days, I simply time the runners and offer encouragement. Other days, I’ll run with the guys. Not only is it a great way to stay in shape, but it is a great opportunity to converse with the students and other coaches and get to know them better.
Many times, the highlight of my day has been the practice after school. Brophy has an amazing group of distance coaches that is knowledgeable and cares about the well-being of the runners. Three of the coaches are Brophy alumni, and two of them are former distance runners themselves. I have worked mainly with the underclassmen this year. It has been so rewarding to see inexperienced and out-of-shape freshmen and sophomores transition into talented runners with a lot of promise.
Distance running attracts a very unique type of Brophy student. Guys who run distance are willing to put in countless hours at grueling practices with little fanfare or glory. The sacrifice and hard work involved speak volumes about the character of the young men who partake in it. I have really enjoyed getting to know these great young men this year. Some of my favorite memories have been the ordinary school days when I have run with the guys up the Bridle Path and just talked about life, school, movies, etc.
We have a dedicated group of guys, and I think they are going to accomplish great things this season. Just last week, one of our runners returned from a nasty sinus infection to run the 4*800 relay. He wanted to run the first leg, but I put him 3rd because I knew he was still a little sick and didn’t want him to push himself too hard. He proceeded to run the fastest leg of the relay, and then get sick right after his race. He could have taken the afternoon off and gone home sick, but he decided to compete and run his fastest 800 time ever. These stories are the norm, not the exception, when it comes to distance runners.
Track season is in full swing, and we have two meets this week. I look forward to seeing our runners push themselves and better their times in 1600, 800, and/or 3200.
Until next time,
One of my biggest responsibilities this year is organizing and directing the Freshman Breakaway program. My first task regarding the program was to examine the experience of the Breakaway and determine what I wanted to keep and what needed to be reworked. After looking over the way the Breakaway had been run in the past few years, I decided to put a greater emphasis on reflection throughout the day.
To do this, I decided to shorten the day, which accomplished two things: 1) it allowed me to bring the students back to Brophy for a meaningful reflection before they had been drained of all their energy, and 2) it allowed students to go home and have a meal with their families where they can discuss their experiences throughout the day. These changes have been an overwhelming success, as students have been more engaged in the day knowing that there is a clear end in sight. The added reflection time has also helped the students be truly thoughtful about the work they have done. In fact, I am always amazed at the change that occurs from the morning reflection (where little to nothing is said by the students) to the ending reflection, in which every student has something to say about how the day affected them and has made them more thankful for their blessings.
As for the day itself, I truly enjoy leading it every week. And maybe I should elaborate a little bit about what the day entails. Each week, a different group of freshmen goes to St. Vincent de Paul for a day of service and activities designed to enlighten the boys about the struggles of the working poor and homeless. The big service project of the day involves us helping to serve lunch at one of SVdP’s dining halls. Every time I go, it truly breaks my heart to see the vast number of people who walk through the door to receive a meal.
But you might be wondering if I am getting tired of doing these things. Well, during the morning reflection at the beginning of each Breakaway, I always mention that this is my “n”th time going (the number is 14 now), and at some point my faculty partner for the given day will always ask me if I am getting tired of doing Breakaways. The answer is honestly, “No.” I really do enjoy leading the days and watching the students change throughout the day. It’s also just nice to get out of the office each week .
Until next time,
Caleb Alpaugh ’07
Living in today’s world, you see some people spending their lives trying to acquire more and more. Most of the time, attaining more stuff is never enough.
As a member of the Alumni Service Corps, it is expected that you take on the challenges of living in community, living simply, and serving others on a daily basis. Since being back at Brophy and re-immersing myself into the community I have realized it isn’t a challenge, but rather an opportunity to set aside some of the unnecessary things I may have grown accustomed to.
I thought this quote from Fr. James Martin SJ was a perfect way of summing up how to live simply… (From his book: A Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life)
“We’re not supposed to be, as I say in the book, twig-eating, cave-dwelling hermits,” he says. “It’s a sensible simplicity … I think living simply means freeing yourself up from things you don’t need and ultimately, that leads to happiness.”
Over the first half of this one year experience I have found my happiness has come from many different avenues. Whether it be teaching one of the scholars, assisting another faculty member, talking with a Brophy student, coaching football, subbing a class, or operating the scoreboard for basketball games. Each experience unique and each experience adding to the joy I have been having on this journey. Oh, and I can’t forget the nice spread that we have access to every day for lunch!
Being back at Brophy has reminded me that waking up each morning is a blessing. The blessing I speak of is one that gives me the opportunity to experience something new and meaningful each and every day. During my time here, I continually find meaning in my life when given the chance to have a profound impact on the lives of those around me. I have truly enjoyed this opportunity and look forward to the next few months because I know they will be filled with lasting memories. -Matt Smith
Loyola Academy Basketball has remained unbeaten in January and our record now stands at an impressive 7-1 for the season! Next game (s) Wednesday-Jan 25th @ St. John Bosco 4pm, Thursday- Jan 26thHome against St. Francis Xavier 4pm.
As a member of the Alumni Service Corps, I am one of the go-to people to substitute teach classes at Brophy. Caleb Alpaugh, Matt Moore, Matt Smith, and I are the second wave of subs after Scott Heideman, the sub coordinator.
At first it was nerve racking to walk into a strange classroom with no idea of what to expect, but it has become one of my favorite parts of my job this year. I sub an average of 2-3 classes per day. Some weeks with teachers on retreat are really busy, and I’ll sub 5-6 periods per day for several days in a row.
The great part about subbing is that I have gotten to know a lot more students than I normally would from my one class with 12 students. From AP Comparative Government to Spanish I, you name it, I’ve subbed it. It’s always fun to walk into a new classroom and get a feel for the class. Every teacher has his or her own style, and their classrooms and students reflect it.
I try to add a little bit of knowledge (and fun) to the classes that I sub for. If there is time, I’ll play an interesting psychology video or do a short demonstration. I’ve even done a few magic tricks! Over the time that I’ve been subbing, I’ve taught students about subliminal messages, showed them how to find their blind spot, demonstrated that peripheral vision is in black and white, and played videos about the funny effects of inattention blindness. I am constantly impressed by the intelligence of the Brophy students. Every day, students ask interesting questions or offer new bits of insight on the psychology presentations.
Even though I sub a lot, some students still have trouble with my name. One senior referred to me just as “Psychology” after I subbed his class. One day when entering a classroom to sub, I overheard a freshman say, “Hey, it’s That Guy!” Well, at least I have a few nicknames!
One of my most interesting subbing experiences came last semester when I was subbing for Mr. Olson’s Freshman Choir class. I knew it would be a difficult class because it was the final period of the day and was made up of over 60 freshmen. I decided to take attendance and then bring them down to the Student Activities Center. Once there, I hooked up my computer to the projector and had them sing some old classics like “Uptown Girl” and “Don’t Stop Believing.” It was going swimmingly, as swimmingly as 60-plus freshmen belting out 80’s hits can go, when I was surprised to see Coach Heideman emerge from his classroom behind the projector. I had forgotten that he teaches 7th period in the room connected to the Student Activities Center. Needless to say, our singing was slightly interfering with his lesson plan for the day. We ended the impromptu concert, but it was definitely a unique moment in my time at Brophy while it lasted.
Until next time,
Matt Williams a.k.a. “That Guy”
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
- Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude”
Coming out of college, I wasn’t sure where I was going. I knew I wanted to make a significant impact on the people’s lives. There were many opportunities to pursue this desire immediately, but there was none better than the opportunity to give back to the community that gave me so much and prepared me for the rigors of college, cultivated my spirit, and made me into the person I am today.
With my return to Brophy, I expected to come back to a community that has always continued to be so supportive of the people who thrive within it and even those who have left it. However, I had no idea what to expect as far as my role of service within the school, where I would be living, or if I could even faithfully fulfill their own expectations of me. This is the first year of ASC, so none of us quite knew for sure what we were getting into.
Now, the fall semester has already gone by, and midway into the program I can readily say my expectations have been far exceeded. It has undoubtedly been one of the best experiences I’ve had in doing service work. The community has been so welcoming, and it has helped me gain a new perspective on what my calling could be.
Along with the legendary Matt Smith, I work primarily at the Loyola Academy, a Jesuit middle school for 6th to 8th grade boys who show academic promise but who would otherwise not have the opportunity to attend Brophy given their limited resources and economic circumstances. This is the middle school’s first year in operation, and we have admitted 32 of the most wonderful 6th grade boys you could meet. Their stories are fascinating and sometimes heart breaking. Yet their belief in each other and their families to be successful keeps their hopes alive, and it gives the rest of us inspiration to continue what we do as educators.
The academic challenges that the scholars now face are quite a leap from what they are used to, but they are all eager to learn and take on new experiences. Some of them have gaps in their backgrounds of certain subjects while others excel at their school work. Throughout the day, I serve as mentor for the boys and I tutor in the afternoons during their free period for homework. It’s been remarkable for me because every single one of these kids clearly have the ability to excel at his academic work, but many have been ill equipped with the proper tools and study habits to do so. As the school year has gone on, however, we’ve seen steady improvement in their preparedness for school.
Although they may not realize it, I undoubtedly believe that I make a substantial impact on their confidence and desire to pursue academics because of my presence as a young male role model who is a minority. It does make a difference, and I certainly know this from my own experience at Notre Dame. They see the things that I know and can do, and it surely shows them there’s nothing stopping them from achieving the same.
I teach their PE class, and they can all already do the full P-90X-Ab Ripper X workout aside from learning to play basketball, football, soccer, baseball, ultimate Frisbee, jump rope, dodgeball, kickball, and many others. I’ve been teaching them all the things I learned at Brophy and at the college level, so they should be quite prepared for what they will see in the future. It’s amazing to see how much many of them have improved over the semester. These guys are so blessed since they have access to all the Brophy sports facilities, including the Brophy sports campus, which is something I didn’t even have during my time at Brophy.
In November, we suddenly decided to put together a basketball team, and after promptly holding tryouts, we had roughly four days of practice to prepare for our first game! We made Loyola Academy history as we were victorious against my alma mater, St. Theresa, by a score of 27-13 in the school’s first ever game. At the end of the game the players celebrated on the court with their classmates who had been cheering for them all game from the bleachers. It was a very special moment to see how happy they were to succeed at something as a team, as a class, and as a family. As a coach, there’s no better feeling from seeing your guys win after all the hard work they put in.
I finally understand how difficult it can be for coaches to put their players in a position to succeed and also the immense enjoyment that comes from it. The team is now 3-1 with big wins over St. Theresa and St. Francis. We still have heavy schedule in the month of January which includes games against Mt. Carmel, St. Catherine’s, St. John Bosco, and the alternative teams of St. Theresa and St. Francis.
Aside from my involvement at the Loyola Academy, I substitute teach at Brophy. The nice thing about substituting is that I get to see many different parts of the student body, from freshmen to seniors, and regular to AP courses. At times, I’ve substituted for the same class and teacher that I had as a student here, and sometimes I share my own stories with the students about these particular experiences. Some things never change.
The other day, my old geometry teacher offered used algebra books for the Academy 6th graders to use, and sure enough, one of the books he pulled out of storage belonged to me. My name was written on the page edges and inside the cover. It was the book I used my freshman year. It’s so exciting to see that these young boys will go through the same Brophy experience as me, whether it’s through the books they the use, the teachers who teach them, or the sports they play.
I can’t believe my time here is already halfway over. It’s the New Year and spring is upon us. After re-charging during the holiday, I’m eager to continue my work. I’m still not quite sure where I’m going, but I think it’s time to let go and let God guide me along the right path. This past year is all the encouragement I need.
Matt Moore ’07
I wanted to take some time to give the Brophy Community a personal update about my time back on campus…
I keep trying to tell myself not to blink because every time I do another week seems to go by. I am happy to admit that the time is flying by as I continue to partake in work that I am thoroughly enjoying.
Joining the ASC was an easy decision for me. It presented the opportunity for me to fulfill my desire to serve the needs of others and reunite myself with a community I deeply care for. However, with my own unique situation it also took a little extra support to make the decision a reality. You see, I am engaged to be married in June of 2012. The idea of living in community and having LONG weeks doesn’t necessarily pose as the most beneficial method to an engagement before marriage. But… when you have the support of family and a fiancée like Jen Spencer it turns out to be the perfect situation before we take our vows!
And so the journey began…
When Mr. Ryan asked if coaching football was something I would be interested in doing, I jumped at the opportunity. Most who know me, understand that I have a very competitive spirit, and football was always the best means of satisfying that desire.
My initial excitement was also accompanied with an anxious feeling about what was
ahead. This would be my first time coaching and I wanted to be sure that I was prepared to make a positive impact on the players I would lead. I spent a good amount of time writing down different drills and coaching points I had learned from both my time spent at Brophy and on the team at Nevada. Football is a complex game and without attention to the smallest of details a team will struggle to have success. However, putting football knowledge and skills aside, some of the best coaches I have been taught by always presented a strong and positive set of values, ethics, and character. It is by that standard, which I looked forward to sharing my experience with the players and helping them reach their goals.
On the first day of practice, I walked over to the Brophy Sports Campus 1 hour early, and was surprised to find I had the same anxious feeling as if it was me going to be battling it out for a position on the team. I knew I was prepared, but just
unsure of how the reception from the JV players would be when I was introduced as the receivers and defensive backs coach. Setting the nerves aside, practice went very well and you could tell the players were excited to be back on the field.
After a few more practices I began getting the hang of running the drills and helping the players to understand expectations and where they could improve. The most beneficial part of coaching for me was my shared experience with the JV players. It wasn’t long ago, that I was going through the same drills under the same head coach (Mr. Woods). I believe that the personal connection allowed the players to feel comfortable with me as their Coach and also as someone to come to with any other pressing needs.
For me, one of the hardest things to get used to again was the dreadful Arizona summer heat. I quickly found out why just about every coach out there wears a Camelbak allowing ice cold water to always be within an arm’s reach.
The first 4 weeks of fall practice were grueling in the 110 plus degree afternoons, but the team pushed through and the hard work resulted in a season opening win against Boulder Creek 13-7. My favorite part after the game was realizing that the feeling you get as a player when you win a close game is even more satisfying as a coach. The biggest difference I noticed was that, as a player you can only control your specific job and have to trust in your teammates to do theirs. If
you try to do too much the usual outcome isn’t favorable to the team. With coaching, I had many different players’ jobs to worry about and felt the stress of trying to help make sure they all understood what needed to be done to have
I quickly learned that coaching requires you to always be tuned in, and there isn’t time to turn it off if you want to get the most out of your players. It isn’t easy, but in the end it is a very rewarding experience and there will always be room
for improvement on my end.
I would rather not mention too much about our 2nd opponent other than after the tough loss the team really pulled together and finished the rest of the season on a 7 game win streak! The 8-1 season was a tremendous success and an experience I am grateful for having. My favorite memory will be getting to see players achieve something that would not have been possible if we had not drastically improved from week 1 in the season.
You can check out the rest of the season results by clicking on the picture below:
Keep your eyes peeled because I will soon be putting out an update about the first semester of Brophy’s new Loyola Academy!
Hello all out there in the Brophy Community,
The ASC is quickly rolling through its third month back at Brophy. With that passage of time, we are no longer terrified about how all the tasks set out for us will get done, and have instead gained a confidence that everything will get taken care of and that we have support ready to step in if need be.
That support comes from a variety of sources and in a variety of ways. It can be a simple “attaboy,” help finishing a project, or a funny conversation over lunch (laughter truly is the best medicine to get you through a tiring week). Support can even come in the form of leftovers brought over by Adria Renke after a Brophy function (What? We’re hungry boys…).
Another source of support is Fr. Jim Flynn, S.J. At the beginning of the month, we met individually with Fr. Flynn to recap our year so far, and then had dinner as a group with both Fr. Flynn and Ted Skowron. Personally, I did not know Fr. Flynn very well during my time here as a student, so it has truly been a blessing to get to know him now. I am always amazed at Fr. Flynn’s ability to make us laugh at one moment and in the next cause us to be truly reflective of our time back here at Brophy. I think we are all very much looking forward to the end of the year when we will return to The Jesuit Retreat Center in Los Altos, California to meet with Fr. Flynn once again (and hopefully stay in this gorgeous house again).
And in the end, I think we receive our greatest support from each other. The ASC house is truly a community. At times our schedules can pull us apart, but when we are all home, we spend our time together in the communal space. Sometimes we watch a sporting event, TV show, or movie together; talk about our days; or lately, thanks to some digging in our parents’ garages, we will play Nintendo 64 together (We all have our own experiences from playing it many moons ago, but it has been much more fun to make new experiences with each other).
It is so nice to know that even when I am struggling to get through a day, I will always have someone out there in the Brophy Community to lend a helping hand.
Until next time,
Caleb Alpaugh ‘07
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 8 weeks since Caleb, Matt Moore, Matt Smith, and I moved into the Alumni Service Corps house on Elm Street. (Yes, there are 3 Matts, and Caleb’s middle name is Matt as well!) The time has flown by, and yet to me it has also seemed like an eternity since that first Friday we laid eyes on the bright red front door.
I first heard about the Alumni Service Corps program last March. I had applied to a few jobs, but nothing had really piqued my interest. When I found out about the program, something just clicked. I sent in my completed application just a few days after I received the information email about the program. When Mr. Ryan called me on a Tuesday afternoon in April to tell me I had the job, I was beside myself with joy to be returning to the Brophy community.
Since that call, my life has been a whirlwind of activity. I graduated from Boston College in May, and then I started work with the Summer Loyola Project at Brophy. I moved into a beautifully redone house with my three fantastic roommates, and almost immediately after, we departed for the Jesuit retreat center at Los Altos in northern California. Ted Skowron is the faculty head of the program, and he has been a great “sensei” so far this year.
It has been wonderful working at Brophy so far! Us ASC guys are definitely busy, but the school energizes me so much every day. I have been working in the Office of Faith and Justice helping to coordinate retreats and service projects. It is an incredibly fun environment. Tommy Smith makes me laugh every day, Sue Hornbeck is as sweet as can be, Ryan Hubbell is my coffee and music guru, and Caleb Alpaugh keeps me sane when the days get super crazy.
I have been teaching AP Psychology, and the experience has been challenging but so rewarding. I only have 12 students, and each of them brings a unique perspective and a willingness to learn. I hope they have learned something from me, and I know I have learned so much from each of them. A few weeks ago, I gave them an assignment to break a social norm and write a paper about it. The social experiments ranged from wearing a suit and tie for a week to paying for people’s meals in line at the mall. They all showed great initiative and learned a thing or two about why people try to fit in.
After running cross country and track at Brophy for four years, it has been fun to return to the team as an assistant coach. We have an incredible amount of talent on the team, and the runners inspire me every day.
There have been a few adjustments to being a faculty member at Brophy. I get to call the teachers by their first names, which was really weird at first. Calling Mr. Schmidbauer “Andy” and Mr. Damaso “John” has definitely been a big change; two teachers who I was just a little afraid of in high school are now my friends!
Overall, it’s been a whirlwind of activity. I’m sorry this first post is so long, but I wanted to fit a little bit of everything in. I can’t wait to give you all my next update!
God bless you all,