Reunion 2020 Message
A special message for the young men of College for Reunion Week 2020
Good morning gentlemen
This week should have been one of the highlights of the year not only for all of you, especially the 6th Form , but also for the thousands of Old Collegians scattered around the world, many of whom make the annual pilgrimage to their beloved alma mater.
Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of Coronavirus [COVID-19] pandemic plus stringent lockdown regulations, Reunion 2020 will need to be unique in its format as we celebrate 157 years of College history.
The links between College and its Old Boys’ Association have forever been close and continue to do so as a brotherhood in an endless chain spanning 157 years.
We are indebted to the OC for their ongoing support of College in so many ways none more so than the financial contribution through the Maritzburg College Old Boys’ Memorial Trust and Foundation.
More recently, the establishment of the R100m for College campaign, which has been enjoying wonderful support by a number of alumni and benefactors, is also greatly appreciated in helping to ensure the long term sustainability of this magnificent institution.
What is it within these walls that bonds the hearts of men?” [C.Laing OC 2007] – The distinctive College Brotherhood
I personally feel that we have something special here at College. We are collectively all engaged in the same business with a similar interest. Teachers, coaches, parents and the community want the best for you and there is most definitely a distinctive College Brotherhood: one that in the main illustrates feelings of friendship, support, extreme undying loyalty, commitment, understanding and tolerance amongst our people .
Chairman of the SGB [OC1991] Doug Mundell
“”I want to take this opportunity to salute you, the boys, you are a significant part of the reason that Reunion is so special for old boys
Former SGB/College Board Chairman [OC1978] Steve Colenbrander
As a pupil the sight of the Old Boys always gave me comfort in that I was part of a unique brotherhood that has stood the test of time.””
Matt Marwick Deputy Head, MCOBA [OC1988}
As a teacher and rugby coach its impossible not to be caught up with the terrific anticipation and excitement of the boys, who will literally jump through flames for one another.
What does Reunion Day mean to the senior prefects ?
Basher Ridge: Here sit the 2nd formers both scared, passionate and fascinated all at the same time as they wait for the daunting word “Former!” to be screamed from all directions. Third form ,a little more relaxed than last year, are keeping a very close watch on the 2nd formers. 4th form way too comfortable on the stands and 5th form finally on top of it all, but right on the bottom are these men wearing broken bashers, colourful blazers and roaming freely. These are the new kings on the Ridge. Sixth form. All around this hallowed field sit men wearing old and faded badges, growing their hair and beards out and simply coming back to a place that stole a piece of their heart forever. These are the Old Boys that come to watch their 1st team play, as they wait eagerly for those bashers to fly where their’s once did. This is Basher Ridge. This is Goldstones. This is College. This is our Mighty School.
The best time of the year, without a doubt. The excitement that surrounds the school buildings is indescribable. Reunion week is like no other. It is extremely sad and disappointing that we cannot be on campus and celebrate the 2020 Reunion Day with our school mates. It means a lot more to us than what people think. It is a time of coming together and a celebration of our wonderful school. A place that many of us consider our home away from home. As the old saying goes. “ What is it within these walls that bonds the hearts of men?”. There is something special within these red brick buildings and we as boys of Maritzburg College are extremely lucky to have experienced it. I know that this is not how we would have liked to have celebrated Reunion Day this year, and especially 6th form. We can only hope and pray that we get another chance to represent the three colours that mean so much to us all.
For me reunion day is simply emotion. It is emotions that no words can explain. It is sharing moments of celebration together; it is rubbing shoulders with proud men who came long before you. It is about the making of memories, while watching Old Boys celebrate the memories of years gone by. It is a feeling that can never be understood unless you experience it yourself.
During this week of reunion, we find a very different type of energy amongst the boys. An energy that seems to bring a much bigger family together as we realize that it’s not just the thousands of boys who roam the school but the tens of thousands of old boys who come back home. Seeing this gives me that feeling of family, that feeling of support and a sense of belonging as it is truly something special to be able to interact with the old boys – the men that made college the family that it is today.
Chris Van Heerden :
Traditions, Emotions, Memories and the College Brotherhood.
Nelson Mandela said “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered for the better.” Reunion Day is that day. It is the day that all Old Boys return to a place as one, to celebrate where fond memories were made. That place is Maritzburg College – Papes and Goldstone. Unfortunately we will miss this year’s Reunion day due to the Corona-19 Virus. We will miss the continuous shouts from ‘Basher Ridge’ and the Bashers flying high when we score. We will miss binding together, shoulder to shoulder as one when it is all said and done shouting the famous No1 – Jimelayo Ji
Pro Aris et Focis
Mr Swart , Deputy Head of Co-curricular [OC 2001] shares his reflections and our winter sports captains of 1st XI hockey, soccer and 1st XV rugby share theirs
The last 8 weeks, and more specifically, the last 8 weekends have been bittersweet. Bitter in the sense that, as a resident on our campus, each Saturday I have walked our fields with sadness and emptiness saying, “today should have been Kearsney… today should have been Westville.” However, sweet in that, when in the face of things lost or not there anymore, memories come flooding back. Reflecting on the better times, winning teams, close matches, visioning the afternoon crowds on Goldstones, the smell of Khwela’s Corner and the shiver in the air at Friday afternoon captains practices, it warms the heart a little. This weekend, that walk around Campus on Saturday is going to be really hard… as this weekend should have been our Reunion Day. And, not just College’s Reunion… but also Maritzburg Day. A day that has become one of the highlights of our winter season. Maritzburg day brings College and St Charles to battle in the main, but the day also includes hosting schools like Voortrekker, Alex, Linpark and Carter on our grounds… to give the Pietermaritzburg public a real feast of traditional city rivalries and friendships amongst our great local schools. To be hosting Maritzburg Day and Reunion in one day of sport was arguably going to be something special this year. Yet, like so much now, the opportunity and plans of all this has been lost to the current state of the Covid-19 pandemic being endured by the world.
I have always believed, very strongly, in this principle: ‘Sport provides society with vivid examples of excellence.’ If I have ever taught you, I am sure you will recall me waxing off about this point. Therefore, for me, in this deeply challenging time, I have tried to rest on this principle and what it means now in this crisis and pandemic. Across South African, and the world, sportsmen and women have adapted, changed and challenged. They refused to be stopped. We have seen the biggest personalities stand up and encourage nations, adapt new and innovative home training strategies, challenged themselves mentally and built resilience and resolute frames of mind to withstand this challenge. All characteristics that will make them return as even more formidable participants and players in their game. There will be a new excellence in the post-Covid world.
And so to for our boys of College… In the interactions I have had with some our players, teams and staff, I have seen similar reaction. Whilst the disappointment has been excruciating for many, especially our matrics, the collective strength, positivity and ‘carry-on’ from so many of our boys has been encouraging. I have seen videos of you boys training in makeshift home gyms, back yards turned into fields and sisters and parents and younger siblings into beacons, obstacles and timekeepers. The difficult times we are enduring, the things we are missing so much sadly cannot be replaced and must simply be endured. In this we will learn resilience, we will learn to be strong in the face of disappointment… all of which will serve us well in life to come.
I have taken two lessons out of this pandemic, both of which can be referenced to sport, but also beyond that. Firstly, and often clichéd, never take anything for granted… you never know when it won’t be there anymore. The second lesson is one we have all heard and one that I have freshly learned again from a friend of mine… and the one I want to give to the Form 6 boys… Let your memories serve as the prize.
I would like to give a small background to this lesson. My friend is a South African sportsman. For the last 8 years, he has trained and sacrificed everything for one single goal, and for the last 4 years, he has had only one date in mind, Tokyo 2020. After just missing out on his first dream of selection to the 2016 Rio Olympics, he knew that 2020 was his last chance. There was no way he was going to be able to keep the younger upcoming athletes off his back until 2024 in Paris, in fact he knew that even Tokyo was going to require an extra-ordinary effort to stay at that very peak of performance for 8 years. It is known that the Olympic Games represents the ultimate in sporting excellence and achievement. For my friend, Tokyo 2020 has been like a carpet ripped suddenly from his feet and 8 years of sacrifice, perseverance, money, dedication and total obsession with his goal looks all in vain and for nothing. Whilst many will say, “but the Games are still taking place next year now,” they do not understand that next year a younger and more gifted athlete just reaching their prime will be favoured in a cycle where performance and selection is determined by split seconds and half-inches. The maxim, you often only get one chance, is true here. Timing and something outrageously beyond his control, has robbed him of his life’s goal and dream. Will he try to qualify for 2021, of course he will. Yet, here is the lesson… when I spoke to him a few days ago he said that the only thing keeping him going is the memories and moments, of not just the last 8 years, but his whole career – those cannot be taken away and are a prize in themselves. He said it took him a while to accept it, but it really was the realisation that changed his view. The hundreds of hours alone with himself in the gym, the passion of his coaches throwing their dreams into his belief, the love and unconditional support all the time, his mom saying, “well done, I’m proud of you,” even when he had performed at his lowest, the fans, the places, the teammates – he said he could write dozens of books to fill even just the 8 years of memories – that is what he has found to be so rich!
To the matrics feeling that profound sense of loss and sadness in what you have lost in your sport this year, I urge you to try relive and recapture the memories of the last 4 years to sustain you through and take out with you. The banter at training, the coach who pushed you or changed you, the bus-trips, the tries, the goals, supporting and being supported, the bashers, being sent running, trying to chat to the troupe of girls loitering close by, the shouting, the passion, Friday night’s… there is so much when you sit and contemplate and recall it all. It is these memories that will come flowing back when you, one day, return for your Reunion weekend!
Chad Desplace – 1st XI Soccer Captain
To all my fellow sportsman, Reunion Day would’ve been a day in which everyone looked forward to, both old boys and current boys alike, as it was a day we’d celebrate together with everyone who has ties to the school. By going out on our respective fields and playing for one another and the school, this would be our celebration. I would have enjoyed stepping out onto AB Jackson’s with my teammates in which would have been my last reunion day soccer match and I would have looked forward to getting revenge against the Old Boys XI as last year as they beat us for the Holgate Trophy. To all the soccer players at College, let’s keep our heads up, the first half may have been tough but we still have a second half to play!
Ben Jackson – 1st XI Hockey Captain
As you all know, Reunion Day is a very special day for all of us. College brothers come from far and wide to gather as one again, to remind us of the brotherhood established in our hearts. For the hockey men of College, we run out onto Pape’s and our other fields to give our all and fill the jersey so that the Old Collegians can reminisce on those past days when they were here. This pandemic is another bump in the road, a very big bump, but we will get over it together. It is how we get over it that will show that we are College men!
Kent Goedeke – 1st XV Rugby Captain
Reunion Day, arguably one of the most important days on the College calendar. I don’t think that any of us sitting at home would have thought, a few weeks ago, that we would have spent this special day sitting on our couch and only dreaming of representing the Red, Black and White. There are many things that I would give up to be running onto Goldstones this weekend, leading the 1st XV and doing the school proud. The day itself is unique and second to none. Seeing the old boys come from far and wide just to support their alma mater show how strong the College brotherhood is. To all the rugby players at College, I know this is hard, however, we need to stay positive and hope we get another chance to run out in our beloved jersey. We get put in situations in life that test us, and it is the way we deal with them that ultimately builds us as people. I hope to see you all soon at our wonderful College.
The poem BROTHERHOOD by Anonymous is of relevance at this time as we reflect on the meaning and we should observe the words closely:
Being a friend is being a man
Being a brother is being tolerant
There are those who say we can
And there are those who say we can’t
Why is that it is so hard to love your brother?
And so easy to betray your friend?
Why does time give me brothers?
And why does it take away my friends?
Is my brother a friend?
Or is my friend a brother?
Proverbs 17:17 ‘A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.’ and 1 Peter 2:17 ‘Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor’, contribute to the relevance and role of brotherhood at College.
Through these very difficult, trying and demanding times, there is no doubt in my mind that your resilience and resolve have been significantly tested .
It is time for you to continue to be brave and courageous as through adversity comes strength and you can find solace in the following verse from Deuteronomy 31:6:
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Enjoy the virtual celebration of Reunion Week 2020 and we look forward to welcoming all of you back to your alma mater in the not too distant future.
Pro Aris et Focis
Stay healthy stay safe