Fresh off Brooks' Friday ceremony for winter sports awards, Kaylan Tildsley Alderson '03 returned the school's focus to athletics on Monday — with a moving chapel speech for the annual Kippy Liddle Day about how sports "truly molded me into the person I am today."
Katherine (Kippy) Liddle was a Brooks history teacher, assistant crew coach and dorm parent who died in a 1984 boating accident while protecting the life of a student during a pre-season practice with the Brooks crew team on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.
As an award-winning, three-sport athlete at Brooks, Alderson knows a thing or two about sports in this community, as well as what that experience brings to life after graduation.
"I remember Kippie Liddle Day from my time at Brooks," she said shortly after her address. "I always loved hearing from someone outside of school and learning about their experiences, so it was a real honor to be asked to speak today." The message of Kippie Liddle Day "is an important one," she added. "Particularly for women and the lessons that it teaches you."
When Alderson attended Brooks, sports were central to her campus life. Juggling the roles of president of the student council, school prefect, member of the Phillips Brooks Society student group, she also played soccer, basketball and lacrosse. In her final year, Alderson's undefeated soccer team was the ISL champion and won the New England Class A Championship. Her basketball team was also ISL and New England Class B champions – and Alderson was named the ISL MVP, as well as the Boston Globe All-Scholastic winner. She still holds the Brooks School basketball assist record with 487.
After graduating Brooks magna cum laude, Alderson went on to Williams College, where she played basketball and lacrosse. The athlete ultimately captained both teams and earned Academic All-NESCAC honors in both sports, twice, as well as the distinction of being named First Team All-American in lacrosse twice as well.
And that she did. Sports "taught me how to manage pressure-packed situations," she shared. Her teammates became her closest friends. "The wins and championships are great, but the bonds you make while pursuing them are what really matter in the long run," Alderson reminded students.
Brooks athletics also taught her the importance of trying new things. Taking on lacrosse "brought out an entirely new side to me," she said. "Trying this new thing literally changed what I knew about myself in athletics and showed me the value in forcing yourself to be uncomfortable because it is only then that you can grow."
"I watched a speech given by Kippy's former colleague and she said, 'Kippy was kind, and positive and generous,'" said Alderson. "'She was thoughtful. She was always happy, always, always enthusiastic, always willing to help.' I promise you I got chills when I heard that because that is exactly how Taryn was."
Alderson admitted that, "I don't think I'll ever fully recover" from losing King, in whose memory she helped establish a scholarship fund. "But I've learned from it and it's shaped the way I live my life. Taryn and I were fierce competitors, but she was always able to see the bigger picture and enjoy the relationships and bonds she created on the field over the victory. Taryn showed me that sports was about more than winning. She truly enjoyed life and made the most of every second ... and I have tried to follow her path in that regard since she left."