A new athletics display will highlight history, honor sports leadership, and inspire future athletes to shine at Sidwell Friends.
For nearly 70 years, Sandy Pearson ’52 has been a faithful supporter of Sidwell Friends. He started small, giving $2 and $5 donations as a young man in the 1950s, and continued with larger donations over the years, including major support for the School’s athletic center. Now, he has given an extraordinary new gift for Sidwell Friends’ new athletic recognition project— a feature wall—to be housed in the building that already bears his name: the David P. Pearson ’52 Athletic Center.
“Athletics is really more a part of our lives than it was in my day,” Pearson says. “We had a little old gym, not even regulation size. The pillars holding up the building were right on the sideline. But everything was different back then.” Pearson notes that while students certainly always played sports, it wasn’t always part of their college application calculus. “Nobody was going to college because they were a great football player or got recruited for college because they were good at basketball,” he says. “Now, that’s not the case.” Indeed, these days many students vie for college athletic scholarships and places on the best college teams in the country. Today, sports provide critical access points to higher education as well as vital character-building opportunities. “So Sidwell Friends, just to keep up with the current environment, has to be aware of all that,” he says. “It’s part of staying competitive with the real world. Athletics is another feature of Sidwell Friends, in addition to the academics and the great reputation it has.”
The new feature wall, to be named at a later date, will greet visitors and celebrate Sidwell Friends’ athletic achievements over the years by honoring alumni and current athletes who have demonstrated exceptional perseverance, self-discipline, and resiliency on and off the field. The project, which should be completed this spring, will include large glass panels highlighting distinguished alumni, an artifact case to showcase the history of Sidwell Friends athletics, a large monitor for dynamic and continuously changing content, and—to further inspire future sports leaders—a special section acknowledging young Sidwell Friends alumni currently playing in the NCAA.
“The feature wall will be constructed in the lobby of the Pearson Athletic Center so all visitors will pass by it as they enter the facility—though I’m especially excited to see current and prospective students’ reactions,” says Keith Levinthal, David P. Pearson ‘52 Director of Athletics. “We have a great story to tell about Sidwell Friends athletics, and the feature wall is the perfect platform to share with our community and prospective students how our alumni impact the world.”
That impact on the world is important to Pearson, too. “I give to Sidwell Friends every year because it was an important part of our lives and got us off to a good start,” he says. “It is as worthy of support as anything in our lives. We all give to different causes, but Sidwell is something we have in common.”