I am unsurprised when I consistently learn that most of the folks who join units in my part of the military, U.S. Army Special Forces, participated in some sort of team sports activity on their way through school. And while most will cite the lessons learned from parents, almost as many cite the lessons learned from their coaches—not just the game, whatever that may have been—but about themselves, other people and even about life.
Many of us know the limits of our strength and endurance because our coaches put us there before (a few times). Many of us know by instinct the need to defend our buddies because our coaches instilled that in us. Many of us know how to shut up and listen because our coaches insisted on it when it was necessary. (That was a hard one for me!) Many of us know how to follow and how to lead because our coaches taught us these things by example.
I, for one, count myself among those better able to do my part wearing green, as our nation has called upon us to do, because of the influence that Bill Stewart [who coached the club hockey program at Tufts from 1977 to 1981] had on me when I wore the Brown and Blue.
I have long known that our nation's Army needs only three things to succeed. It needs soldiers, and it needs mentors. These first two things are easy to define, and somehow, we always seem to have enough soldiers and mentors. But the third thing the Army needs is heroes—much more difficult, not only to define but to find. I'd say that while heroes can manifest themselves in many ways, the most important thing that heroes do is to make soldiers and mentors. In my humble opinion, Bill Stewart should count himself among those who are heroes. I certainly count him there.
Mark Rosengard, A79, is a colonel with the U.S. Army Special Forces, stationed somewhere in the Middle East. He e-mailed this tribute about his former coach, Bill Stewart, and it was read at a Tufts Hockey reunion banquet this spring.