An exercise in camaraderie, team building and collaboration recently swept across athletics. The first-time event, initiated by men’s tennis player Josh Mounsey ’24, recently wrapped up at O’Shaughnessy Stadium. Mounsey shared his thoughts and photos from the project with the Newsroom.

Josh Mounsey headshot.

Josh Mounsey ’24

The Be Kind Baton Project started as a dream. I woke up at 2:27 in the morning and I started typing everything I remembered into my notes so that I didn’t forget. Initially, I pitched this idea to two of the athletic administrators who expressed high energy and enthusiasm about my revelation. I also spoke to the women’s track and field coach, Joseph Sweeney, about this awesome project and immediately he wanted his team involved. There were some small intricate worries like COVID-19 protocols, but I didn’t make something like that hinder me from the greater good. The project can take the form of a baton race going through all the athletic teams and with high hopes to getting it through everyone at the St. Thomas campus.

The ultimate goal of this project was to encourage stronger connectivity between teams and people as a whole, to embed the notion of kindness in everyone (to make kindness a natural human purpose), and to reward the hard work the athletes, coaches, athletic administrators, staff and faculty did over the last couple of months. I know everyone experienced some level of hardship, whether mentally, socially or economically. So, I wanted this project to be a pathway to heal some of the suffering. I wanted a happier St. Thomas, which included more smiles and more kindness to one another.

The men’s and women’s track and field team kicked off the project by passing the baton to the men’s and women’s golf and basketball and also the men’s and women’s tennis team, which I am a member of (men’s and women’s tennis passed to men’s and women’s soccer). There were two batons being passed on, so the project would’ve finished before finals.

Before this exchange happened, I was fortunate to meet someone named Kaia Porter, who is the captain for women’s basketball; she really stepped up. I called her my “operations manager” of this project. I was also fortunate to meet Burt Hedstrom, who is captain of men’s basketball; he was very instrumental in giving me advice when I needed it the most. He was like a big brother in kindness to me. Also, Courtney Shorter, the women’s golf captain, stepped up in many different ways by saying yes to accommodate and/or provide snacks for two relatively big teams despite being the smallest team within the Athletic Department. These captains were very instrumental in the success of this project. I cannot forget Katie O’Connor (women’s tennis captain) or Hal Houg (men’s soccer captain), who also were vibrant and never said no to me when I needed them. I really appreciated all the teams and the captains’ strong involvement in this project. The level of excitement and impact that the project instilled was the most rewarding aspect for me.

Finally, I am happy the project was successful despite the odds it faced. I am happy everyone loved the concept and wanted to work hard to see the project through to the very end. One of my takeaway lessons from this project is that, “You just have to find something that you truly love and are passionate about and act on it, reduce the number of words and let the actions define who you are.” My goal is to hand this project over to a group of people who I know will develop this project further into something all the Tommies will enjoy.

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