Mr. Svensen This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 4, 2012
Freshman year we feared him. Sophomore year we began to realize that our fright was more likely something called respect. By junior year, we had come to the conclusion that he might actually be more than just another authority figure. But senior year, when we finally realized how important he was to us, he was gone.

He was a teacher, a coach, a role model, and a friend. He was someone we looked up to and admired. He gave us encouragement and support and always believed in us, even when we had given up on ourselves. He was always there when we needed him, except for the one time when it meant the most. He was Mr. Paul Svensen, Scituate High School field hockey coach and history teacher, and on December 7, 1995, he passed away.

I will never forget the way my head fell on that fateful, chilling winter day. I remember sitting in my first-period history class waiting for the teacher to arrive. But when he walked into the classroom, I suddenly wished that I wasn’t there to hear what he was about to tell us. It was obvious that something was wrong. His face was flushed and his eyes were red; he looked as if he had just been shot. Time stood still as he uttered those unforgettable words, “Mr. Svensen is no longer with us. He suffered a heart attack last night and … ” I didn’t even listen to the rest of his speech. All I could hear was the phrase: Mr. Svensen is dead, Mr. Svensen is dead … running through my mind over and over. I was in complete shock. This could not be happening. My field hockey coach for three years, a man I respected and admired, was gone. It was impossible to comprehend.

I ran out of the classroom to find my teammates and luckily didn’t have far to travel. Two of my fellow captains were standing at my locker, crying. I had promised myself that I would retain my composure, but this was too much. My emotions overwhelmed me and tears rolled down my eyes and splattered over the cold, hard floor. The three of us hugged and tried to console each other, but it was no use. How were we to deal with such an immense and unexpected tragedy?

It has been almost 10 months since Mr. Svensen left us, but the pain remains. He meant so much to all of us. He was an inspiration to everyone. He made you want to work hard and try your best, even if you doubted yourself. He was the first one to congratulate you on a job well done and the first to point out what you could improve. He made people want to give 110% all the time. He was a great motivator, a wonderful person and always knew how to get the best possible effort out of everyone.

One of my fondest memories occurred during my sophomore year. It was my first year as a member of the varsity field hockey team and we had just won the first game of the season. While we were stretching at the beginning of practice, Mr. Svensen walked over to me. He said calmly and confidently, “If you continue to play like that, you’ll be a league all-star someday.”

My goal this year is to fulfill my coach’s vision. He always had faith in me and I intend to live up to his expectations. I know that I may not be the most physically skilled player on the field, but mentally, I am prepared to contend with anyone. The belief that Mr. Svensen instilled in me pushes and compels me to do my best. I am inspired by his memory and I want to prove that I am capable of all that he imagined. Each day as I walk onto the field, I remember him and think, This one’s for you, Mr. Svensen. I’ll show everyone that you were right to believe in me. And I know that wherever he is, he can hear me and is looking down on me and smiling.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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