Andover, MA -- At this year's Athletics Awards Ceremony, Andover's only tri-varsity captain, Trey Wolfe '23, won the Jim McLane '49 Award. At the ceremony, Coach Parker (golf), Coach Kalter (water polo), and Coach Fox (swimming) spoke about Trey.
Coach Fox's remarks follow:
“Medals are important to the average person. They are not very important to me. When I remember my achievements, I remember the work and training not the medal--that’s what is most valuable.”
So said Jim McLane for whom this award is named. In 1948, following his upper year at Andover, Jim swam for the United States at the London Olympics and won one silver and two gold medals. Jim’s first 45 years were marked by Olympic championships, world records, service in the army, and leadership positions at several leading companies, including General Mills. At the age of 45, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and he fought the disease for the remaining 45 years of his life. I am not alone in thinking the second half of his life living with m. s. was more impressive than the first.
I was fortunate to know Jim, and I think he would love this award: “to two members of the senior class whose ethic, effort, and relentlessness are in the spirit of Jim McLane.”
And I know Jim would have adored Trey Wolfe.
Listening to Coach Kalter, I remember sixteen years ago. These awards were presented at an All-School Meeting, and Coach Kalter, a four-time varsity captain, was recognized. Because it was such a big event, awards were simply announced. Had I been able to speak then, I would have noted many of the traits we have heard already about Trey. Teenage Kalter and teenage Trey are remarkably similar, a compliment to both.
A year ago tonight, Trey joined me for dinner at LaRossa’s with the widow of Jim McClane. Afterwards, she noted that Trey must be an ideal grandson. What Ms. McLane glimpsed during that dinner was not Trey embodying “Big Blue Nice,” which is a far too low bar. Instead, what I think she glimpsed is what I have witnessed since day one: Trey sees everyone, treats everyone, as family. On the swim team, his relationship with each teammate, year after year, has been grounded in love.
Coach Parker’s observations of Trey resonate with me, too. Rest assured: Trey’s swim caps and speedos are just as extravagant as those pants.
At the New England Swimming championships, coaches are invited to nominate student-athletes for a league-wide award. The process is simple: you write all of the league coaches an explanation of why you think the particular student-athlete should win the award, and then the coaches vote. Because our program is fortunate to have some successes, I seldom nominate any Andover boys for awards, and I did not this year. Midway through the championships, though, Exeter’s coach came up to me and said I should nominate Trey.
That night, I wrote the coaches a note of nomination:
“It sometimes takes a friend to point out what’s sitting right in front of you.
“I am grateful to Don Mills for suggesting that I nominate Trey Wolfe for the Andy Lowe Award. Trey is the true NEPSAC student-athlete: a three-sport varsity captain (water polo, swimming, and golf), an extremely rare honor at Andover.
“For four years, Trey has been a seasonal swimmer, training by following the black line only from mid-November to early March. He entered Andover with a best time in the 100 Breast of 1:04, and this afternoon, he went 57.7. This is achieved through absolute focus and overcoming significant health challenges.
“Sometimes on the Andover team, Trey is known as ‘Dad’: leading by doing; having the tough conversation; treating the All-American and the rookie the same; and being the first person to think, “Fox would not like that.” (I particularly appreciate that trait). Perhaps most importantly, what team ethic and culture that has survived the complete severance of the past from the present via the Pandemic is due almost entirely to Trey. He learned the critical lessons from great leaders from the Class of 2020 and has brought them to our team this year.”
We have all struggled to resurrect ourselves and our programs since March 2020, and I am most grateful to Trey for helping me.
I will conclude with some of Trey’s own words. In an email he wrote to the team on March 17th—I’ve edited some of this for his privacy:
“I want to share something I kept private from a few months ago until now. On January 25th, … [m]y doctor told me three weeks before Easterns that I had to stop swimming for at least a month, and if I didn’t and pushed myself too hard, I could damage myself irreversibly. I told him we had five weeks left in our season, and likely the last two championship meets I would ever swim. He said it was ultimately my choice, and I decided to press on. I never told you this because I didn’t want to create an excuse. Now that the season is over, I want you to know that I chose to take the risk and keep swimming because of how much you all mean to me. I thought about how much better my life is because of this team, and the joy seeing you every day brings me, and I do not regret my decision. There were tough days, and I was in pain sometimes, but it was worth it. I want you to know this because there will be days when you don’t feel 100%, there will be times when you get bad news, and sometimes you may feel like there isn’t a way out; remember that you are not alone–your teammates are always there for you, and we can accomplish anything, as long as we commit to it.”
Amen. Thank you, Trey.