Middle and Upper School students packed the Zambetti Gym to hear from legendary football player Calvin Hill ’65 during a recent assembly.
A classmate of Hill’s, Robert Flug ‘65, and former and current parents Glenn Dubin P’15, P’19 and Deidra Moore-Janvier P’07, ’29, introduced him as a model student-athlete at Riverdale and Yale, and an elite running back throughout his professional career with the Dallas Cowboys, the team that is now the Washington Commanders, and the Cleveland Browns.
Having grown up in Baltimore, Calvin came to Riverdale on a scholarship. As he recalled, he was not initially enthusiastic about leaving home for such an unfamiliar place. His father encouraged him to take advantage of what would prove to be a life-changing opportunity, despite his deep hesitation.
Relationships with friends, faculty, and coaches indelibly shaped his experience as a student. “Riverdale is a beautiful campus. It’s a lot of material things, but it’s really the people I think about.” he said, “They were nurturing to a young, scared Black kid from Baltimore who had never been away from home. I realized how lucky I was.”
Calvin said there were two key values he learned at Riverdale that changed his outlook on sports and life in general; “The idea that it’s very important to be a part of something bigger than yourself, it’s very important to think about the other fellow first,” he said. “The other was a line out of the alma mater we sang every morning, ‘Spirit over circumstance, ever so free, spirit over circumstance, ever supreme.’ That has been my credo for my entire life. I was never going to let anybody break my spirit, and I just focused on the positive.”
Calvin left students with one crucial piece of advice: “This is a very short period of your life. With all the things going on in this country now, with all the divisiveness, it’s going to be up to you. Your generation is the one who is going to put us back to where we should be. Share and respect one another, understanding that it’s not all about you and that life presents many challenges, but just remember, spirit over circumstance, ever supreme.”
Watch Calvin Hill’s complete remarks at Riverdale here.