Wednesday, October 21, 2020

5XL Khakis of Power

How fast can Coach Cirillo run the 11.2 at Percy Warner?

Who's got the best ultimate frisbee skills?

What is the current world record time for the marathon?

Why is that lanky cross country kid running through Sylvan Park in a pair of 5XL khakis with names written on the legs in Sharpie?

All of these questions found answers in the 2020 edition of the annual Tour de Pants, an MBA cross country team tradition for more than 25 years. A shroud of mystery nearly as expansive as the 5XL pants themselves surrounds the origins of this tradition. Some say it began with a dare on the steps of the Parthenon in Centennial Park. Others claim it dates all the way back to the real Parthenon as one of the events in the original Olympic Games. A few conspiracy theorists hold that the Tour actually began after the ghost of Montgomery Bell delivered the idea for the Tour to Coach Pruitt on Halloween in 1995. 

Regardless of the contentious debate about its origins, the Tour takes place over the course of an entire week near the conclusion of cross country season each fall. Monday features the boys' knowledge of their coaches' running prowess as they must estimate how fast a particular coach can finish the grueling 11.2 trail at Percy Warner. Tuesday tests their commitment to hitting their training paces for a tempo workout in the park. On Wednesday they perform feats of strength by pumping out pushups and show off their knowledge of the sport by rattling off trivia about competitive running. Thursday brings the Tour to a close as the top four boys in the standings get to be captains for an ultimate frisbee tournament held at MBA's 42nd Avenue fields. The captain of the winning team claims the overall Tour de Pants victory.

On a triumphant run back to campus reminiscent of Caesar's return to Rome after re-subduing Cisalpine Gaul, the Tour victor dons the 5XL khakis emblazoned with the names of the champions of yesteryear. No amount of swishingly awkward wind resistance can dampen the spirits of the Tour winner as he climbs The Hill in triumph.

N.B. The original pair of khakis either disintegrated long ago or has been placed in the Smithsonian.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Captain William Cornelius '37: Superman & Servant

This week leading up to Homecoming students have the chance to don "spirit wear" with a different theme each day. Monday was jersey day, Tuesday was college day, Wednesday was workout day, and today is patriotic day. To go along with today's theme, we're remembering one of our alums: Willie Cornelius '37.

Willie "Superman" Cornelius earned his nickname from his friends due to his athletic ability and mental sharpness. After moving down West End to attend Vanderbilt and serve as captain of the track team, he moved overseas to serve as a captain in WWII.

Captain Cornelius served valiantly until March 7, 1944 when he fell in battle. He posthumously received the Distinguished Service Cross for the daring and vital actions he took as described on the official documentation of the award:
...for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy, in action against enemy forces during the occupation of the Admiralty Islands on 7 March 1944. When enemy forces occupied Papitaial Village, opposite Porlaka and constituted a threat to that position, Captain Cornelius voluntarily requested to land a reconnaissance force to locate enemy dispositions. Under hostile fire the force crossed the inlet in rubber boats and Captain Cornelius was the first ashore. He killed four of the enemy before he was fatally wounded. Because of his daring action, Captain Cornelius aided greatly in the collection of valuable information which enabled our forces to press a successful attack. Captain Cornelius' intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Men like Captain Cornelius serve as examples of the selflessness MBA attempts to instill in its graduates. We charge them to make "significant contributions to society." The life of Captain Cornelius exceeded that expectation.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Building Community from The Hill

by Brad Gioia

These last few days I have reflected on the state of racial divide in our country and the importance of developing our school’s commitment to greater respect and support of one another. The violence and senselessness in the death of George Floyd has been overwhelming, and the subsequent extent of pain and tension evident in our cities across the country suggests a great need to build a better nation centered on care for one another. Today we have talked with a number of students and faculty and staff about developing this discussion and our efforts. The MBA community should show leadership in this area. I sent the note below to our faculty and staff this morning to ignite that spark of action, interest, and unity:
This weekend highlighted the ways in which we have been touched by the recent racial tensions throughout our country. For the past two nights our Mayor has imposed a curfew on the city because of the violence. I have had e-mails from friends in Moscow, Slovakia, and South Africa about these racial issues in Nashville. I have also heard from several of you. We have an opportunity to build a better school and community, to ensure our students and each other respect one another and all people -- regardless of race or religion or background.

Yesterday afternoon I read a beautifully composed essay by the President of Middlebury College, Laurie Patton. She spoke of the plagues in our country: Covid-19 and racism. She referenced the book The Plague by Albert Camus and how that story portrayed the ways a pestilence can strip away the focus on material wealth and success and lay bare what really matters: human relationships, care, and connection. The two plagues we are facing now have the same potential for all of us. Let's hope we can find ways to strip away all that is wrong and broken in our world. President Patton went on to say that two forms of "oxygen"(she used the poignant and haunting metaphor from George Floyd's last words to connect the issues of racism and the coronavirus -- I can't breathe) can heal our world: education and action.
At MBA we all have the opportunity to give the world a better view of how we care for one another. Let's start this summer by talking with our students, advisees, and one another.

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