To the Class of 2018 Olympic Team
By Charlie White
Welcome, all, to this commencement speech (I guess you should read it in my voice and with my intonation), dedicated to a wonderful group of people. It is with great honor that I address the incredible, wonderful, smart and attractive Class of the 2018 Team USA Olympic Figure Skaters. While perhaps a cumbersome title, I think it appropriately conveys how brightly you all glow in the eyes of your fans, which is everyone. We cannot expresses enough how much we cherish the inspiration and the incredible Olympic moments you have brought into our lives and into the world.
Were I to go through each moment of Olympic heroism and perseverance, we’d be going until the next Olympics come around. So I see this space as an opportunity to focus on where you go from here. One might be tempted to think that a “commencement” speech for a group that has already accomplished one of the most impressively difficult challenges in the world (becoming an Olympian) would be, well, unnecessary. Why should you worry about starting anew when you’re already the master of a craft, esteemed by many and disliked by few? Well having been through the experience myself, I can assure all that becoming an Olympian is really just the first step in the most important part of your time on this earth. Welcome to a new life, with new goals and even greater purpose.
You have all been necessarily obliged to excellence in your life as a skater, but know that your obligations inherently grow in conjunction with your titles. Olympians are meant to represent not only the pinnacle of sport, but also the fundamental philosophies of Olympism. To quote from our own USOC:
Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining the qualities of body, will and mind in a balanced whole. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles. The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced in accordance with Olympism and its values.
There’s a lot to unpack in those few sentences, but the endgame is clear. Living these values and spreading this message, whether you continue skating or move on from sport altogether, is what the world needs from you. You are all incredibly different from one another, and each of will find your own unique way to make a positive impact. Indeed, there can be no respite from the power you wield to make the world a better place. Meet with the potential obstacles and pitfalls, of which there are many, in this new life in the same way you have overcome all previous challenges, with conviction and determination. Remain humble. Remain optimistic. You represent humanity’s best, and you must lead so that we may follow. Thank you for being you. And finally, we wish you all of the luck, both because we care about you, and because we care about where you can help take us.
Look back at the last Olympic quad in the June/July issue of SKATING magazine.