“Imagine you are about to serve your match point,” Sumire Sumi ’24 urged guests at NMH’s recent fall athletics banquet. “Imagine you are about to take a penalty kick. Imagine you are about to start your last cross-country race.
“There is a moment in every sport, when we are alone and everything depends on us,” Sumi, a member of the girls’ varsity volleyball team, continued. “No one has control over the outcome but us. If we miss it, our team loses. ... In those moments, we get scared and become afraid of the worst possibility. But would you let those doubts and fears take over you?
“Before you answer, let me take you in a different direction. Ask yourself, why do you play that sport? Why did you decide to spend hundreds of hours in blood sweat and tears repeating the same motion over and over just to perfect your technique? Why? Why do you still play? Why do you still push yourself?
“The answer is simple. Because you love it.”
The theme of Sumi’s speech — one of two student addresses given at the Nov. 10 event — was underscored throughout the event, a celebration of the hard work, perseverance, and joy that NMH student-athletes and their coaches bring to the field, the court, the course, and the track. The banquet recognized the achievements of the cross-country, field hockey, mountain biking, soccer, rowing, and volleyball programs.
The evening began with a welcome from Athletics Director Rick Hendrickson, who joined NMH this year. Student-athletes and their coaches, grouped by team, enjoyed dinner and heard talks by Sumi and the second student speaker, Zane Sylvester ’24, a member of the boys’ rowing team.
Sylvester spoke about the importance of the concept of “set” in his sport. “Set is how stable the boat feels in the moment,” he explained. “The boat will not tip side to side, everyone will have their oar off the water, and the rhythm of the drive and the recovery will feel natural and effortless.”
Achieving that, he noted, is not easy. “Boat set, like most things in life, takes time, dedication, and repetition to develop. My athletic life and rowing career have never been the most set. There have been bumps, snags, injuries, and even the equivalent of boat-stopping crabs. Every athlete in this room knows there are always doubts and uncertainties. However, through the bad set, I keep coming back, because I know it takes time.”
It also, Sylvester said, takes the support of teammates, coaches, and others who bolster you on your path — whether in athletics, academics, or other parts of your life. “Some of us are gliding through the water, feeling like our set is smooth and beautiful, absorbing everything life throws at us and taking it in stride,” he noted. “Some of us are in rougher water, feeling the boat tip from side to side, and trying to find something to blame for our bad set. …
“I urge you all to take a step back in these moments of bad set. ... Try your hardest not to assign blame to a single thing in your life, whether it’s your friends, teachers, teammates, and especially yourself. Life’s snags, hitches, and boat-stopping crabs are often caused by a variety of factors. So, when you’re tipping side to side, and nothing seems to be going right or helping, just remember, good set takes time.”
The evening ended with the presentation of awards to students on each of the fall teams, followed by closing remarks from Associate Head of School Charlie Tierney.
Students award recipients at the fall athletics banquet:
Boys’ Varsity Cross-country: Nielsen Kasser ’25
Boys’ JV Cross-country: Josh Lee ’24
Girls’ Varsity Cross-country: Grace Bird ’25
Girls’ JV Cross-country: Sophie Cohen ’25
Boys’ Varsity Rowing: Zane Sylvester ’24
Boys’ Novice Rowing: Spencer Hirschey ’26
Girls’ Varsity Rowing: Claire Takeuchi ’25
Girls’ Novice Rowing: Sophia Noh ’27
Boys’ Varsity Soccer: Samuel Hall ’24
Boys’ JV Soccer: Ian Lee ’24
Boys’ Thirds Soccer A: Graham Sharpe ’25
Boys’ Thirds Soccer B: Jayhee Lee ’26
Girls’ Varsity Soccer: Sasa Kolowrat ’24
Girls’ JV Soccer: Sopi Koko ’26
Girls’ Varsity Field Hockey: Ava Reitz-Bouren ’25
Girls’ JV Field Hockey: Eliza Jessen ’26
Varsity Coed Mountain Bike Team: Oluwaseyi Mojeed-Balogun ’24
Girls’ Varsity Volleyball: Lucia Doulette ’24
Girls’ JV Volleyball: Amira Makhmudova ’24
Girls’ Thirds Volleyball: Helen Zeaske ’26