Column: Gala night provides validation for all involved

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BENNINGTON — Sitting up in the upper level of the Bennington College Greenwall Auditorium Tuesday night for the Regional All-Stars Gala, I couldn't help but look around the room and scan the faces of the loads of people below.

Looking around, I saw athletes proud to be there and enjoying their time. I saw parents and grandparents smiling ear to ear watching their child getting recognized for their amazing accomplishments.

When I think about the All-Star Gala and everything it encompasses, a word that sticks out in my mind is validation.

The night does an amazing job of providing validation for everyone who walks into those auditorium doors.

Female Athlete of the Year, Mount Anthony's Cat Worthington, had a goal to win that award ever since she saw MAU alumna Emily Altland cross the stage and receive the honor at the inaugural Gala two years ago.

When I talked to Male Athlete of the Year, Burr and Burton's Joey McCoy, he told me how getting the award validated the hard work he puts into practice and in the weight room.

These statements really stood out to me.

All of the athletes and coaches honored put in hundreds of hours of work in their respective sports, and in the classroom, to be the best. As our keynote speaker Keith Willis said, it's important to compete in everything you do in life and strive to be your best.

Every single athlete and coach I saw walk across that stage Tuesday night clearly takes that advice to heart.

Seeing nearly each and every one of them smile as they received their awards shows me that they feel validated. They see that if they work hard in whatever they choose to do, that hard work can pay off in a big way.

The night provides validation for the parents and guardians of these athletes and the spouses of the coaches. These adults have almost certainly given up a lot of their time to make their children's athletic dreams a reality. Seeing their pride is something that brought a smile to my face as well.

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Talking to multiple parents after the event and seeing some of their comments on social media, I could truly see that the event meant a lot to them.

I hope the sense of pride they feel in their athletes also brings a sense of validation that all the extra time they put into their children's activities has paid off.

Lastly, the Gala event brings validation to all of us involved in putting it together.

Our advertising manager Susan Plaisance is the real MVP of the Gala, doing so much of the prep work for the event.

Also, many people behind the scenes at both the Banner and the Berkshire Eagle pitch in to make the night a reality and I hope they feel validation in how successful the event is year in and year out.

I know for a fact that the Gala validates the work myself and my boss Adam Samrov put in on a daily basis.

At the Gala, I had a few parents come up to me and tell me thank you for covering their children over the past couple years and that they appreciated my work. If I'm being honest, those moments are what makes my time doing this job worth it and what keeps me going.

Knowing that the work I do on a daily basis is appreciated not only by the parents, but the athletes themselves, really makes the work that we do matter.

In my almost two years working for the Banner, I can truly say that the Regional All-Stars Gala nights have been the two best days of my employment.

I can only hope that this annual event continues on way after I have left the Banner because this night is special in so many ways to so many people.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aaucoin@benningtonbanner.com and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.


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