Baseball teams head to Florida in February and March for spring training in the warm sunshine. So do I for my annual visit with our growing numbers of Nichols alumni, with whom I find an even greater warmth.
There is always one large event in Naples, and this year we had over 70 attendees. I remember my first Naples event nine years ago where we had less than 20 folks. It has been really fun seeing the participation and enthusiasm grow every year for this get together.
There are always new faces. One this year was from the Class of 1972, and it was his first time at a Florida gathering. While most attendees from earlier Naples events came from classes of the 1960s and 70s, the turnout now spans a wider range. This year we also had about a dozen people from the 1980s, a few from the 1990s, and a recent graduate from the class of 2019. Folks traveled from Miami, the Tampa area, and even South Carolina!
On my Sunshine State sojourns, I also spend several days visiting with individuals. My travels this time took to me Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, Ft. Lauderdale, and Punta Gorda. Luckily I subscribe to Audible, so I was able to take down a lengthy audio book during my trek along the east coast of Florida and back up the Gulf Coast.
I certainly don’t adhere to any diet during this trip. One day I had breakfast, lunch, and dinner out with alums! One of my regular stops includes homemade key lime pie that is the most amazing thing you’ve ever tasted.
I’ve been fortunate to get to know so many amazing alumni and friends of the College. Sometimes we reminisce about their losses of family and classmates that occurred over the last year. Mostly, we marvel at their longstanding connection to Nichols and what their college days have meant to them through the years.