By Pep Plasin, Head Coach of Girls Area at Academia Sánchez-Casal Barcelona.
This June 22nd, 2018, a very special day will be celebrated here at the Sánchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona. A fresh new group of students will graduate, after 12 intense academic years, and it will be time for them to face the next stage in their lives. It is both a happy and a sad day as we say goodbye to people who have become part of our family.
Graduation is a very exciting day, both for the graduating students and for the people who have worked with them over the years. Coaches, teachers, physical trainers, physiotherapists, psychologists, dieticians, and more, make up part of this organization, and each has contributed his/her own grain of sand towards the education that these students receive, ensuring that these boys and girls acquire the academic knowledge and the tennis level necessary to continue on into the next stage in their lives.
Our mission at the Academy is to create opportunities in tennis, in education, and in life, and that is what we have done since the beginning. If we think particularly about the generation that graduates this June, they are practically like our children, because many of them have spent over a decade with us. Laura López, Marc Feliu, and Jordi Ferrer were each just tiny little kids when they joined the Sánchez-Casal family.
Graduation is a magical moment. The students are full of nerves during the days leading up to it because it can be difficult to speak in front of such a large audience and during such an emotional moment. The sharing of memoriesand experiences often causes a knot to form, not only in the throats of those who speak, but also for the audience as well. With the experiences that each graduate shares, they can often make you cry.
Everything starts with the speech of the Salutatorian, who is the student with the second highest grade point average. The rest of the students then follow, with a short speech of their own. Finally, the Valedictorian, the top ranked student in his/her grade, closes the ceremony with a longer, often more emotive and inspirational speech.
After the diplomas are awarded, the ceremony ends and congratulations, hugs, photos, laughter and, of course, tears begin. This is when the high school stage of the students’ lives officially ends. Every one of these students will take a different path forward, but they will each take within them on their journeys the values that we transmitted at the Academy. At the same time, each and every one of us here at the Academy will hang on to a precious memory of these students, because we also learned so much from them.
Two years ago, we held a very emotional alumni reunion with an impressive level of attendance. Many formers students of Sanchez-Casal returned to be part of one more special and unforgettable day, that was filled of fond and precious memories.
That night, a former student spoke to me and for no particular reason, said “Thank you.” I asked “what for?” and she told me “… for everything”. Her answer, so short and yet so broad, gave me much to think about, because she said it with so much feeling and it evidently came from the heart.
In my opinion, this simple phrase is the summary of everything our students experience and learn at the Academy; so many lessons which, with the passing of time and with the experiences they go through, our students value more than they ever imagined.
So thank you too, to our students, for everything.
Head Coach of Girls Area at Academia Sánchez-Casal Barcelona