Sr. Nancy, Like She Meant It

You know that part in Jerry McGuire where Rod Tidwell, played by Cuba Gooding, Jr., is knocked unconscious making his career changing touchdown?  And he regains consciousness, slowly gets up to the cheers of the crowd, and then breaks into a celebration dance and handstand spin before leaping into the stands?  Well, every time I see this, I think of Sr. Nancy, or every time I think of Sr. Nancy, I remember this moment in the movie.

     Sr. Nancy Hynes was my academic advisor when I was a student at CSB/SJU in the late 1990s, when Jerry McGuire came out in theaters.  During one of our meetings, she told me she loved Tidwell's dance.  She thought it was great.  I didn't know what to think of the comment at the time.  A nun had never talked football to me before, let alone a nun that read Virginia Woolf.  I think I was trying to determine if she really meant it or whether she was merely trying to buddy up to me and make inroads through my stoned-faced stoicism.  It wasn't until a year or two ago, over 10 years after Sr. Nancy made the comment, that I realized it couldn't have been anything but genuine since all that she did was done with enthusiasm.

     The game Sr. Nancy loved most was English literature, and she was my coach.  However, I wasn't always on the team.  I had met her when I was a sophomore biology major getting my English requirement out of the way in her Intro to Literature class, English 135.  As coach, Sr. Nancy was always on the lookout for new blood, and for some reason or other, I made her 1995 draft.  I wasn't unique in this regard.  In fact, I wasn't even the only Adam on her list.  The other Adam was a tall guy with big build that I had seen in class but never talked to as we were both just as quiet and reserved as the other.  He evidently was her lineman, and me, at 150 pounds, the kicker.  Every time I talked with Sr. Nancy, even after graduation, she would beam about her two Adams and always mention how the other one was doing. 

     It must have cheered Sr. Nancy to have won us to her camp.  I hadn't been such an easy recruit.  It wasn't until a week into my second semester sophomore year that I realized that maybe biology wasn't the best for me, and I reregister my biology and chemistry classes as British and American literature.  In no way did Sr. Nancy encourage me to give up biology; that was my choice.  Rather, in one of our meetings, she encouraged me to do both, citing that I could write on the environment, the reason I had chose biology in the first place.  Sometimes, I wish I had listened to her, but I think what interests me most about biology, living creatures like plants and animals and human beings, is not the mechanics of life's game but the meaning to be made from it.

     More than anything, I'm happy to have had Sr. Nancy as an advisor.  She not only recruited me, but she saw me through to graduation, and then helped me get into graduate school, twice.  I'm glad even more so for that one moment when in her book-lined office she mentioned with her readily present grin how much she just loved Cuba Gooding, Jr. in Jerry McGuire.  She wasn't saying she loved football or that she even watched football.  She was saying she felt the truth found in the character of Rod Tidwell: Passion is its own reward.  How blessed Sr. Nancy was to have had such passion.  And how lucky we are to have been moved by it.  You know?

by Adam Halbur, Class of 1998