Tags Posts tagged with "Experience"


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Québec City seems like a delightfully European-styled destination that is only a nine-hour drive from here. Montreal, officially Montréal, is even closer, only six hours or so. The old cities there are filled with beautiful stone buildings that speak of some five centuries of North American history, a unique culture that is a French-Canadian and English mix, lively street scenes and shops, museums, sports and scrumptious restaurant food.

I can attest to all that because I attended a press convention that was held in Canada this fall, and a friend and I drove there and back. By the way, the road trip is a scenic joy as we traveled along the Molly Stark Trail amid the Green Mountains through Vermont and back on the Adirondack Northway. The only way it could have been better is if the leaves had been turning. As it was, the trees were at their lushest, the highways were clear and the weather was perfect — in the 70s with low humidity and azure blue sky.

I was thrilled that the local residents could understand my French and even more so that I could understand theirs. I haven’t tried to speak French since I was last in Paris, a while ago. I discovered that the French Canadians speak more slowly than the Parisians generally, so communication of at least a rudimentary nature was mildly possible. I certainly understood how much they dislike President Trump, which they told us often enough after they discovered we were visiting Americans.

Quebec City, referred to that way to distinguish it from the larger Province of Quebec, is located both above and below cliffs that line the northern bank of the wide St. Lawrence River. The Upper Town, home of the now-famous Château Frontenac, was where the elite among the early French settlers lived, including the clergy and government officials. Merchants and craftsmen lived in the Lower Town along the river. The strategic location of the city permitted the French to repel both British and American invaders for more than a century and enabled trade to flourish among New France until Wolfe and de Montcalm fought on the Plains of Abraham in 1759 and the British won. The Quebec Act of 1774 allowed the French to continue to speak French and to practice Catholicism, and by keeping the French satisfied probably kept them from joining the American Revolution. To this day, road signs are in French although children learn English from second grade on and are bilingual.

After a couple of days, we made the three-hour drive to Montreal and the location of the convention, still enjoying glorious weather. I keep marveling at the weather, knowing that of the original 28 men who accompanied Samuel de Champlain from France in 1608, 20 died from the harsh first winter.

The Island of Montreal was considered, in the early days of settlement in the mid-17th century, to be only an outpost for fur trading. Over the centuries, however, it has become one of the world’s largest primarily French-speaking cities after Paris and the second largest city in Canada — only Toronto is larger. The Port of Montreal is one of the world’s major inland ports, served by the St. Lawrence Seaway. It is a city of skyscrapers, festivals and considerable diversity, and it too has marvelous restaurants, along with the cultural and entertainment offerings one would expect. I only got a short tour of Old Montreal and some time in the art museum, where there was a good exhibit on Picasso and African art, because in Montreal I had to work. I enjoyed the meetings and learned some things there that our newspapers will be telling you about in subsequent issues, also on our website.

Our return on Sunday afternoon took us an hour to cross the border compared with fewer than three minutes on the way into Quebec on a weekday. We left our northern neighbor, however, with a strong urge to revisit soon.

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Miller Place sophomore Lauren Mancini carries the ball downfield with a Mount Sinai defender on her back during a scrimmage. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Miller Place boasts a mix of youth and experience in its girls lacrosse team this season, including nine eighth-graders, many   of which were on the Panthers playoff team last year.

Miller Place sophomore Madison Murphy gains possession off the draw. Photo by Bill Landon

The team finished its 2017 campaign with a 7-6 record, making the playoffs but falling to rival Shoreham-Wading River in the opening round. The girls scrimmaged Syosset before going toe-to-toe March 17 with New York State champion Mount Sinai, scoring several goals against their formidable neighbors.

Being a young team, boasting just four seniors with sophomores, freshmen and the nine eighth-graders making up the rest of the roster, Miller Place head coach Thomas Carro is under no illusion as to what’s in store for his squad this season.

“We’re going to have some growing pains in the beginning,” he said. “They’re going to make mistakes. We turned the ball over like 11 times in that last scrimmage [against Syosset], so we’ve got to limit those — and we will.”

Carro said five-year senior goalkeeper Hailey Duchnowski, along with returning defenders, should keep the Panthers in games.

“I think we have one of the best goalies we’ve ever had,” Carro said of Duchnowski, also pointing to junior defender Ava Burns and sophomore midfielder Madison Murphy, who he said is “going to have a good year.” “If those girls play hard, that stuff becomes contagious and the younger group will follow them.”

Miller Place freshman Alexa Corbin moves the ball through midfield in a scrimmage against Mount Sinai. Photo by Bill Landon

Duchnowski pointed to areas of promise and areas of concern she has with her unit up to this point in practice.

“We are doing really well at moving the ball fast on offense, coming together on defense, working hard,” she said. “But we’ll have to get better in transition.”

Murphy’s assessment of her team’s progress so far she said belies its age, but also noticed moments of weakness.

“We have a bunch of athletes,” she said. “We need to play together as a team, and if we do that it’ll all come together. We’ll need a lot of communication on the defensive end as well as on offense, and if we can do that fluently we can win.”

Senior Nicole Beck will also provide the Panthers with the leadership they need, and said, like her coach always does, Miller Place doesn’t rebuild, it reloads.

Miller Place junior Ava Burns battles for a ground ball against Mount Sinai. Photo by Bill Landon

“We lost a great amount of talent last year, but so far we’re still able to put up the numbers offensively,” Beck said. “It’s been impressive — we didn’t think we’d be able to do that — we have a lot of young girls who are playing really well.”

Murphy said her team’s preparation for the league opener at home against last year’s nemesis won’t have anything to do with the athleticism of the team, but with the mental preparedness. Miller Place will host Shoreham-Wading River March 28 at 4 p.m.

“If we go into that game with a positive mindset, work as hard as we can, I think there could be a positive outcome,” she said.

Carro said his team competes with some of the sport’s top Long Island talents, and said finding a way to neutralize high-caliber opponent’s threats will be key to competing with the cream of the crop.

“Shoreham lost a lot [of talent] last year, but it’ll be a test for us to play a team that’s next door to us; the girls all know each other,” the coach said. “We have Rocky Point and Mount Sinai [as neighbors and opponents this year], and those are tough teams. These girls come out and play hard against those teams, and if we take care of the ball and make good decisions, we can be in the game with anybody.”

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When I was in college, I wrote an essay in a seminar. In such a small class, we read everyone else’s writings each week and needed to be prepared to share our observations or else face the ignominy of our teacher either excusing us from the room or glaring at us until we cracked.

One of the other writers had written this spectacular story about four people at a dinner party. She had moved the reader through the thoughts of each of the characters, until she got to the fourth person, whose social anxiety receded when he started choking. His inability to control noises that interrupted her stories irritated his wife, who glared at him until he read her vexed expression and retreated to the kitchen. Separated from the group, he choked to death. The ending was so powerful that I was sure my prose was inferior.

When my turn came, I waited through the usual polite beginning, as my classmates shared what they thought worked. Great, I thought, it won’t take long before we transition to the unnerving category of “what could he have done better.”

It took some time before people starting quibbling with my choice of words. Certainly, I could maneuver through the minor discomfort of a new word here or a different turn of phrase there.

Professor Brilliance sat in his green corduroy pants, with his oversized left foot rising and falling diagonally above his right knee to his rhythm, tilting his head to the side, awaiting a worthy insight.

“Well,” he said, scanning the room slowly, “has anyone spotted clichés?”

Oh no! Clichés? Clichés! I thought I had scrubbed out the clichés. I quickly scanned words that floated unevenly above the page, hoping to find any and expose them before anyone else did.

His foot stopped, and so did my breathing.

“No,” he nodded slowly, “I didn’t see any, either.”

This had to be only a temporary respite before the scissors started slicing.

“Now, let’s go over the introduction to this fine piece,” he said.

Was that sarcasm? Did he mean that it was fine, or was he acknowledging its shortcomings?

As we went line by line through the piece, my writing held up to the scrutiny. Some of my classmates even defended a few phrases, suggesting that they found them perfectly fine just as they were.

The professor saved his lone arrow for his final remark.

“This is a solid piece of writing,” he said, before adding, “for someone your age.”

And there it was, ladies and gentlemen. The backhanded compliment that sent me back to the children’s table, wondering what the adults might be discussing.

Now that I’m older than Professor Brilliance was when he shared that line, I have considered whether he had a point and the answer is, yes and no.

My experiences have changed my perspective. I recognize the value of history, even if I despised memorizing dates and names for a test. I also understand the Chinese devotion to their elders, not because I’m older, but because I have an increasing appreciation for all the decisions my parents and their generation made.

At the same time, when I hear the ideas my children share, I don’t minimize them in the context of their shorter lives. Instead, I recognize the wisdom that comes from their experiences in a handheld techno world they maneuver through more deftly than I.

All these years later, I guess I’d have a comeback to my professor’s observation. “Maybe you’re right,” I’d say, “or, maybe, I’m young enough to know better.”