The name Penrose has a lot of meaning to me because of where I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and the youth athletic program I was a part of from age 7 through 12. Penrose Park is where I spent countless hours practicing with my youth football team and learning life lessons of discipline, perseverance, sacrifice, and setting goals. During my years playing youth football, from August to November, Penrose Park became my “home away from home”. Each summer, my teammates and I readily anticipated August 15th (the former official start date for football practice). We always arrived to practice early, and our parents had to pry us away from the field once practice officially ended.
What I gleaned from this experience led me to St. Louis Country Day School, a middle & high school with an extremely challenging academic environment and rich football tradition. As a result of the discipline and perseverance I learned while practicing at Penrose Park, I was able to succeed at St. Louis Country Day School and at Duke University as a student/athlete. I still recall one particular practice at Penrose (during daylight savings time) when the lights at the park were going to turn off (there was a timer). The coaches needed more practice time with us, so when the lights went out they asked our parents to start their cars, park them side by side, and turn on the headlights to provide lighting for us to get an additional 15-20 minutes of practice. They obliged!
I also recall the number of hours spent studying for my second semester Calculus exam during my senior year of high school. It was one of the most grueling exams I have ever taken! After the exam, I had a terrible headache. However, thanks to what I learned as a youth from my parents, football coaches and from my high school teachers and advisor, I was successful.
These experiences, as well as the influence of my aunt who was an English professor, motivated me to become an educator in order to help make a difference in children’s lives. Penrose Park was the epitome of a learning environment with our coaches serving as positive role models while also providing leadership and mentorship. The lessons learned have proven to be applicable thus far in my lifetime.