For those who do not know, I have two Badgers. That would be a freshman and a senior at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. And these two bleed red. Well, ok, we all bleed red but they bleed Badger red. Go red. Camp Randall sea of red on game day red.
And if you follow college football, then you would know that this past Saturday night the #11 Badgers beat #1 Ohio State in the game of the decade. As my daughter described it, the place was electric from the moment of kick off. As well it should have been since they scored in the first 12 seconds of the game. The level of intensity never let up. As you can see, they rushed the field at the end of the game; something she had never seen in her 4 years there. Her friend who was visiting said this was up with the top 5 days of her life and she was not even a student there!
But this is not about football. Well it is, but not really. This is about belonging. About a sense of place and feeling a part of something that is way bigger than you could explain, yet it feels like it is simply a part of who you are. My kids are lucky to have had this at camp. And now in college they have what feels like camp on steroids.
81,194 people jammed into that stadium, all chanting, cheering and praying together for that win. For their team. Their school. Their culture. Damn, it does not get better than that.
We go through that crazy college app process praying that our kids will find a place to ‘be happy’. A place they feel they belong. A place to grow that will shape their lives, not just in the classroom, but out as well.
I am a firm believer that much of what they learn there is not academic. The community of Madison has been as strong a teacher for my daughter as her professors have been. I can only hope for the same for my son.
Everyone gets hung up on the career prep in college. Sure we want them to get jobs and be fulfilled and self sufficient. But maybe part of what makes them ready to go out into the world is to know WHO they are, not necessarily WHAT they want to be.
And that, my friends, is something to think about.