This time of the year many former Park student-athletes are on break from college and are back home in Cottage Grove. It has been great to see many of the kids who graduated in the past couple of the years return to the building.

Some stop by after school to work out in the weight room or activity center. Some of these students are playing sports in college and need to get in their workouts while on break.

It is great to see the success that our Park grads have at the college level. Many stop in to see their high school teachers; and a lot of graduates have returned for games at Park the past couple of weeks to cheer on their former teammates.

It warms my heart to be at an event and see a big group of Park grads. Many teams plan an informal gathering with these alumni or have an “alumni night” at one of their games near the holidays.

Activities included free admittance, T-shirts, recognition and contests at intermissions, and social gatherings afterwards. I think one of the reasons the students come back is to reconnect with their former teammates.

The bond that players form with teammates is hard to break, especially when they go off to different schools after high school. Some of the alumni come back five to 10 years after they have graduated and really enjoy connecting with former teammates.

Players also look forward to coming back to see their former coaches. These coaches serve as role models for these players and many times students do not realize how much the coaches do for them until after they have left.

The life lessons that our coaches are teaching often are utilized well after the students leave Park. The one theme that I hear from all the recent grads is that each of them is successful in college. They feel that Park did a great job preparing them for the rigor and challenges of life after high school.

I know homecoming is officially in the fall, but I truly enjoy this time of the year when we get a chance to catch up with some of our former student-athletes over the holidays. They may have moved on to college, a job, or the service, but these grads will forever be part of the Wolfpack.