Brooks School celebrated our annual remembrance of the late Kippy Liddle in chapel today with remarks from former girls 1st crew coxswain and National Championship rower Lexi Caffrey '06.
Katherine V. "Kippy" Liddle was a Brooks School 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. Liddle is now recognized each year on Kippy Liddle Day, during which we celebrate the outstanding achievements, accomplishments and character of female athletes at Brooks.
Caffrey (on left) joined former teammate Libby Mulligan '04 and current student Caitlyn Ingram '21 back at the boathouse on Lake Cochichewick after chapel.
"I have a very strong bond with Kippy's story, having rowed at both Brooks and [The University of Pennsylvania]," Caffrey said in her opening remarks.
A two-year captain and three-year varsity coxswain, her exceptional athletic career at Brooks included two National Championships and two successive Courtney Crew Prizes for crew, as well as a New England Championship with varsity squash (she also ran cross-country).
Yet, when Caffrey came to Brooks, she had never rowed and planned to play softball. By trying something new and starting crew, the athlete — who now works as a Category Manager at Wayfair in Boston — discovered a passion. And that's why she used her speech to urge students to do the same.
"As I sat down to think about my time at Brooks, the main thing I look back on was how much opportunity my classmates and I had, and I'm thrilled to see that has only grown since I have left," she said.
"I'm certain that many before me have echoed this thought, but as some of you prepare to leave Brooks in the coming months, I want to make sure you understand the opportunity that comes with a Brooks School education," she continued. "Look around the chapel at the teachers, coaches, advisors and deans that are present. You have the opportunity to learn from and interact with these special individuals every day.They all embody the spirit of Kippy in some way . . . Having been fortunate enough to be a student at Brooks you might think this is the norm, but think back to your time before Brooks. I had plenty of teachers in my prior schooling that were not available to stay after class if you were struggling and were not invested in you as a student. The teachers and coaches at Brooks are always willing to go the extra mile to see you succeed."
Now an Alumni Board Member at Brooks, Caffrey — whose two sisters, Allison '02 and Julia '10 also went to Brooks, as did their father Andy Caffrey '69 — encouraged current students to cultivate relationships with Brooks alums as a way of seeking out even more opportunities post-graduation.
"It is up to you to make the most of [your] opportunities and the community around you," she said. "It is important to unplug from social media and make real personal connections with those who are present. The social networks of real life are more important than what's going on in your phone . . . You could email almost any Brooks alum today and tell them you are interested in hearing about [their college] or career path and they'd be more than happy to chat — Just because you have the common bond of being a Brooks student."
Imploring students to take advantage of every opportunity they have at Brooks she explained, "That's not because once you leave here those options go away, in a perfect world they would multiply, but at Brooks you have the luxury of doing them in a safety net, or bubble as we used to call it. You can make mistakes or decide something is not for you and pick up and move along to the next opportunity. If coxing didn't end up being my thing, I'm sure I would have led a rowdy cheering section on the softball bench."
Sharing how excited she has been to see the changes on campus and creation of the new Center for the Arts, Caffrey concluded her remarks with one last request: "Buildings like [the Center for the Arts], and the gym during my time here, are a sign of parents and alumni investing back into the school because they want the current student body to have more opportunities than they had," she said. "...So in the spirit of Kippy Liddle, please take advantage of those new art studios, music rooms, and everything else Brooks has to offer and make the most of everything you have here."
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Winter Athletics Awards
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