First Person

Facing Life’s Challenges


Tom Keating ’84

Any St. Lawrence graduate who has completed the core liberal arts does not need to be convinced of the uniqueness of each individual, helping others and facing a challenge. One simple challenge I faced as a freshman was transitioning from team sports (soccer and lacrosse) to individual workouts—alone and with friends. I was not in a position to join my Sykes roommates Mark Bonneau ’84 and J. David McCrillis ’84 on the ice at Appleton Arena or the 90-meter jump at Lake Placid. I was in the science lab every afternoon, and I was beginning to feel as athletic as a petri dish.

Fortunately, Jeff Huther ’82 and John Marino ’83 asked me to join them with Peter Van de Water ’58, where I was convinced that this outdoor thing would be a blast (and athletic). I needed a place to burn off pasta dinners at Phi Sigma Kappa. So, I drafted with the help of Tim Saburn ’84 a proposal for the so-called “Outdoor Alternative” theme house.

We placed topo maps in the main room and charted athletic journeys on our bikes, in hiking boots, and in a VW microbus that carried us to the next outdoor adventure. One of us, Peter Hall ’84, ran with a St. Lawrence group across the entire United States.

For those in the outdoors, the list of St. Lawrence adventurers just grows. I recall learning from many–too many to account–Professor John Green, Amy Smith ’84, Adam Clayman’85, Anne Sibley ’85, Jim Brown ’86, Kathleen Root ’86, Bill Brown ’83, Chris Johnson ’84, Mike Peabody ’86, and John Edwards ’85. I owe much to lessons learned at St. Lawrence building that complete package–body, mind and soul. We must engage with the help of others to maintain all those working parts.

My roommate at the “Outdoor Alternative” theme house Dan Stasz ’85, who was a nationally ranked open-water canoeist. He is one of those St. Lawrence spirits who helped me build basic strength through training to focus on the climb. I had the pleasure of running with him and paddling the Grasse River. When he met his future wife, Jennifer Ferree ’86, I did not see him as much.

I was shaken when I received an e-mail from Willie Janeway ’85 that Dan had suffered a spinal injury in a cycling training run. He now has the enormous challenge of learning how to re-engage his body as he gathers the strength to walk and, in time, hopefully do much more. However, I know, from the lessons Dan, himself, had taught me, that he has the spirit of adventure and the endurance for the difficult challenge he faces. As a St. Lawrence graduate, I am grateful for the lessons learned building that complete package–body, mind and soul—so that we may align the challenges we all face in this marathon called life.

Dirty hiking boots.