Freaking out with Mr. Roach

Matthew Roach, English and history teacher and girls' soccer coach, thinks Peddie's got something special in its ability to let go, get fired up, and — in the words of his favorite band — freak out.

You play it safe, play it cool
If you ever emote, you're playing the fool
Is that the way you think it is?

You wanna freak out? Yeah, C'mon!

The biggest reason I love working at Peddie is that students here are willing to go for it. They’re psyched to buy in. They’ll take risks and have fun and get on board with the good things in class and community and life.

In a world that makes it easy to be a cynic or a critic—particularly in high school, where reputation and coolness are at stake—Peddie people are genuinely and deeply willing to get fired up. I sensed this when I first interviewed for a job here three years ago, and I’ve seen it and loved it every day since.

But even according to these high standards, Peddie’s had an unbelievably great month for what my favorite band calls "Freaking out":

As Sandy Tattersall noted today, Blair Day was an explosion of enthusiasm, a feast of fun. As I walked through the fields of blue and gold revelry three weeks ago, I suddenly realized that Peddie-Blair is the best high school rivalry in the country. Period.

The level of energy, the fact that every game counts, the Springsteen-Falcon cry, the lionization of freshman football players, the Cup, the Ala Viva, the storming of fields, the narrow margins of victory and defeat, the alums that come back—all extraordinary. 

All this awesomeness only comes because we care about Blair Day. Because we buy in. Because we freak out.

And then:

Last week at the sports banquet, I said goodbye to the nine spectacular seniors I had the chance to coach for Peddie Girls’ Soccer. As I sat there eating steak and potatoes alongside head coach Jen Grubb, I realized (not for the first time) that this was the most excellent team I've ever been around. And then I asked myself: Why?

Oddly enough, the best way to explain what made that group so incredible is to point to the Pep Rally skit about them.

In the skit, PGS was made fun of for being over-excited about life; over-energized about soccer; over-sentimental about Blair Week; over-thrilled to be in each other’s company.

But as flaws go, being fired up about life, team, school, and friends are pretty good ones to have, I’d say.

In fact, this excitement and love—so easy to make fun of—is hard to create. You have to be willing to care about other people, be unselfish, make a fool of yourself, try and fail and try again, and risk putting your heart into a high school soccer team.

The reward, though, is deep and lasting. You get to experience life at its most vivid, and you get to create something that you’ll always be proud of and remember.

This team was special because the girls bought in. They went for it. They freaked out.

And then:

The GSA Coffeehouse last weekend. Everyone went and played/heard spectacular tunes and supported an important cause, and were so psyched that next time it may have to be held on the football field to hold all the fans.

And then:

Mr. Ebbott (yes, faculty here buy in, too) gives an epic chapel talk about unselfishness and perspective and the vital importance of reading, and people are laughing along, talking about it afterwards, and taking his words to heart.

And then:

Mr. Mixon really, really goes for it today in Community Meeting to get people stoked about the Dec contest, doing an angry Allen Iverson and ranting persuasively about practice, man.

And then:

HUGE and fired up crowd at the home opener boys basketball game, lifting the team to a close, hard-fought victory and setting up what could be the best PSIT in years.

And then:

Guitarmy, led by Mr. Clements and comprised of faculty and students who love sing-alongs, gathers on a cold and rainy night belt out old jams through the ceiling of the Annenberg Science Center. It felt great to be there, and to be around people so willing to just hang out and sing and play, unselfconsciously, for an hour. 

It’s been a good month for being yourself, Peddie.

Let’s keep going for it.

Let's keep buying in.

Let's keep freaking out.