Ransom Everglades welcomed track and field coach Mike Becker, former soccer star Shereena Chang '98 and three-sport legend David de Montmollin '92 as the newest inductees to the Ransom Everglades Athletic Hall of Fame during an Oct. 12 ceremony at the Pagoda filled with storytelling, laughter, handshakes, hugs and a few tears.
The honorees were greeted by Head of School Rachel Rodriguez, Upper School Athletic Director Scott Berman and a host of RE hall of famers, including COO and Interim Head of School David Clark ’86. Among the attendees: Cathy Harrison Balestra ‘90, Jim Beverley ’62, Bill Convey ’83, John Geraghty ’73, Kevin Grossfeld ’95, Bert Irigoyen ’12, Penny Matthews, Gordon Myers ’92, Owen Paris, Doc Crabtree, Don Kappelman, Lisa Sayfie ’91, James Weaver Jr. ’90 and Amy Sayfie Zichella ’93.
Becker was introduced by fellow track coach Mike McPherson, who described Becker's dedication to the wellbeing of his student-athletes even as he led them to district championships and regional and state appearances during his 40 years as a coach. RE's track and field team won 18 straight district titles missing out only during the covid-shortened 2020. "I only know how to coach one way," Becker said. "All day, all night, all in."
Becker, who is writing a book called The Coach's Journey, plans to step down from coaching after spring 2023. "It isn't about the championships," he said. "It's about the special bonds with the athletes."
Rosie Gordon-Wallace introduced Chang, who after starring as a goalkeeper and striker at RE went on to success in soccer at Georgetown University. Quoting coaches from throughout Chang's career, Gordon-Wallace described her as supportive, enthusiastic, hard-working, talented and a bright spirit. "She displayed a never-give-up attitude," Gordon-Wallace said. "She tackled each obstacle with unwavering dedication."
"I appreciate everything this school gave to me: memories and experiences," Chang said. "It was a fantastic place to grow up in."
De Montmollin was introduced by his brother, Phil de Montmollin '90, who reminded of his prowess in football, wrestling and track and field (shotput and discus) from the moment he arrived to the upper school. Now a marketing executive in the casino and gaming industry, David de Montmollin was "encouraging, positive, uplifting and kind," his brother said. "His selflessness and humility he displayed throughout his career at RE."
Nicknamed "DeMo" as a ninth grader, David de Montmollin said sports at RE were transformative. "High school football to me was a pivotal point in my life," he said. "The friendships, the cameraderie, going to battle with your friends ... it really, really made a big impact on my life."
Clark addressed each inductee personally at the end of the event, and shared his memories from his time at RE as a student, teacher and dean of students. "They didn't just show excellence in the classroom, they had to sacrifice," he said. "Listening to the stories today, each one of them had to sacrifice something to get where they are today ... It's been a wonderful night ... This is the history of RE. Ransom Everglades changed all of our lives."
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.