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Posts Tagged ‘Glenbrook North High School’

A Beautiful Day At Columbia College Chicago

Posted by sportsmaven on May 17, 2009

Crystal blue skies, not a cloud in sight.  Bright sunny day, so bright that a strong squint of the eyelids posed a constant reminder of sunglasses forgotten.  An unseasonably cool May morning, a Sunday morning.  The sign on the front of the building read UIC Pavillion, but inside, it was Columbia College Chicago all the way.

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Today is May 17, 2009 and my step-daughter, Jessica Dreymann was attending her last official function as a Columbia College student, her graduation ceremony.  As of 10pm this evening, Jessi is officially a college graduate.  Actually, it was as of 2pm, but the celebration took us a few ticks  further on the face of the dial.

Jessi began her college career as a freshman at University of Iowa.  Eager to leave home for the first time, Jessi chose a school that was far enough from home to really experience being on her own, but close enough to come home if she really wanted.  Iowa was a learning experience in so many ways.

The first year of college is a dichotomy of life; you are a student, you are no longer under parental rule.  Iowa was a struggle in many ways for Jessi.  Normally an excellent student, with an impressive run at Glenbrook North High School in our hometown of Northbrook, IL, Jessi was really struggling in Iowa City.  In many ways, it was that first year of struggle that ultimately defined Jessi’s growth and development into the outstanding person she is today.  It is where she came of age, experiencing a giant leap in maturity and independence.  It is also the place that led her to today’s events at Columbia College Chicago, and it little did she know it was the most important experience of her life.

Jessi Dreymann graduated college today.  She graduated in 3 years.  She also graduated with honors.  She was able to accomplish every bit of this while working a full-time job.  Words can’t express how proud I am of Jessi’s accomplishments.  I only know one other person that has accomplished the same, and I’m married to her.  Yes, my wife and Jessi’s mom, Barb DeCesare, set the bar for today’s events.  I’m bursting with pride, inspiration, and joy for the accomplishment of both my girls.

Columbia College Chicago is a special place of higher education.  I noticed the minute I walked into the graduation ceremony at the UIC Pavillion.  From the smart, creative choice of excellent music to the guest speakers ability to provide short, but powerful words of wisdom, Columbia College’s dynamic, creative environment was on full display.  Distinguished honored speaker, author Ray Bradbury spoke stirringly about doing what you love and to love what you’re doing.  The spirit of love was the dominant theme of the day.

My highest compliments and regards to President Warrick L. Carter, Provost Steven Kapelke, and the various leaders of Columbia College for providing an environment for dynamic and creative learning, development of outstanding leaders, and most importantly, the mentoring of tomorrow’s change agents.

From create…change to Yes We Can, Columbia College Chicago ushered in two powerful phrases that define the spirit of Chicago, the destiny of higher education, and the intersection of the two into one magical morning.  After reading this post, you might be asking yourself  “What does this have to do with Chicago sports?”  Nothing at all.  It’s my daughter and I’m damn proud of her today, as I am every day and wanted to share that with my loyal and faithful audience.

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Living The American Dream

Posted by sportsmaven on June 30, 2008

Magnus Midtvedt was a foreign exchange student from just outside Oslo, Norway. Magnus was also a student that lived in our home since the last week of August in 2007. Today, Magnus went home to Norway, 10 months after arriving in the United States and the Chicago suburbs as a young, quiet, shy boy from Scandinavia.

I have been waiting to write about Magnus all year, mostly because I wanted to fully experience the wholeness of hosting an exchange student before putting it to words, but watching Magnus pack for his journey home brought back the memories that he has lived since the day he arrived in the International Terminal at O’Hare Airport last August.

Magnus arrived to the shores of Lake Michigan alone and unassuming. He was very much a young boy, traveling half way around the world to embark on a journey we all knew would be special, but yet he was to begin this journey alone, and amongst strangers. He was brave and courageous to do this on his own, but Magnus had a dream to play basketball in the US and Northbrook, Illinois is where it was to happen for him.

Basketball in Norway is a fledgling sport, still very much at the grass roots level, meaning not very advanced. As a young boy, Magnus fell in love with basketball and with Michael Jordan while watching the movie, Space Jam. Little did he realize that in a few short months, he would be living his American Dream.

Every young boy has dreams of being a schoolboy sports hero, whether on the gridiron or the court. In Magnus’ case, it would be the hardwood of the basketball court. Magnus worked countless hours in our backyard basketball court with the hopes of just making the Glenbrook North High School basketball team. Not only did Magnus make the team, but he developed into one of the best shooters on the team, parlaying that into valuable playing time off the bench and a remarkable run into the state playoffs in a magnificent season of American high school basketball.

Magnus’ shining moment was in the Proviso West Holiday Basketball Tournament this past December. Glenbrook North was scheduled to play Whitney Young, a local powerhouse and a top contender for the Class AA state basketball championship. One of Whitney Young’s top players was G Marcus Jordan, the son of Magnus’ basketball idol. The game was broadcast on Comcast Sports Net, the local sports cable television outlet. Sitting in the stands behind the Glenbrook North bench was perhaps the best player ever to play the game of basketball, Michael Jordan. Magnus entered in the 4th quarter of a one sided game, where he proceeded to hit a 3 pointer in front of his hero and idol. Michael acknowledged the moment with a little fist pump and Magnus was in heaven. There could be no better moment to witness someone living the dream of their lifetime. I was proud to be present to witness such an accomplishment, but also humbled and thankful to experience the rare and wonderful moment of a dream fulfilled.

That moment happened over 7 months ago, and it was one of many, many moments that Magnus has experienced in his brief stay as a member of our household. In my eyes and heart, that was the one moment that will forever define our experience with Magnus. As the parade of newly made friends came to say their goodbyes this afternoon, I watched the completion of the development and maturation of a young man, a boy no longer.

As I walked Magnus to the security line at the airport and said my goodbye, I felt a large part of my existence for the last year was leaving with him. I have to admit that it was a difficult moment for both of us, but more difficult that I would have thought for me. As I watched Magnus go though the security line, I noticed how American he had become – wearing the basketball shirt, the baggy jeans shorts that kept falling down as he took off his belt to go through the metal detector, to hearing one of his favorite new American sayings “my bad”.

As Magnus gathered his belongings from security, he took one look back, waved bye to me, and walked around the corner to his new life, a life of unlimited potential and dreams fulfilled, with many new dreams to follow.

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