To the Band of Brothers: November 8, 2023

Fr. Willie ‘87 | President
I recently went through an excruciating experience I wanted to tell you about. I went to buy a pair of sneakers. That’s it. I know you were expecting an “and,” but there isn’t. You were hoping something more like, “I went to buy a pair of sneakers and a monster jumped out of nowhere and chased me down various aisles at Dick’s Sporting Goods.” Or, “I went to buy a pair of sneakers and the only option had the Buffalo Bills logo on the side.” Simply put, the excruciating experience was buying a pair of sneakers.
Back when I was a kid, it was so much easier. When the sole had fallen off and various holes appeared in the canvas of the athletic shoes, it was time to get a new pair. My mother would drive me to Tom McCann or Buster Brown (they don’t exist anymore) and buy me a new pair.  To be honest, I don’t even think I got out of the car. She went in, saw a pair that were my size, paid for them, and walked out. Most of the time, they were just like the ones I had before, only new and maybe bigger if my foot had grown since the last purchase. One other thing, if I got a pair, my brother Manny had to get one as well. Manny is only 14 months younger than I am, so, close enough that what was good for the goose, was also good for the gander.

But now it’s so different. I went to Dick’s and was overwhelmed by the variety. They had sneakers for running, hiking, walking, and jogging. They had sneakers by Nike, Converse, Adidas, and New Balance. They had sneakers in white, black, blue, and even red with white and gold slashes running up and down the sides. They had sneakers with laces and without laces, with Velcro and without Velcro, and even sneakers with a Velcro/lace combination. They had sneakers that were $20 and sneakers that were $120, sneakers endorsed by athletes I don’t even know and sneakers endorsed by people I didn’t even know were athletes. There are even sneakers with air pockets and sneakers with what looked like shock absorbers. I thought I was going to pass out.

The salesman walked up to me and asked if he could help. Help? Wow, that was the understatement of the year. “Yes,” I said, “I need a pair of sneakers. But, please take into consideration that I don’t run or hike or jog. Please understand that I don’t play basketball or football or tennis. And, I am almost positive, I don’t need pumps or shock absorbers.” He walked away and in less time that it took me to bend down and take off my left shoe (that’s about 30 minutes), he came back with a cart filled with 23 options of all makes, models, and colors. It was then that the tedious task of trying them on, walking around, getting a feel for them, and, eventually, making a decision began.

After what seemed like two hours of walking back and forth, jumping up and down, and wondering whether they matched my black clerics, I was down to three possibilities. The decision was nerve-racking. I wanted to be sure that whatever I decided was the right one because if not, I would have to go back to the store and go through the whole nightmare again. Oh, how I miss you Tom McCann and Buster Brown.

Finally, I settled on a pair of gray New Balance. I ran to the register to pay and bolted out the door before I started to second guess my choice and was sent into a whirlwind of insecurity. When I got home, I took the sneakers out of the box. They somehow looked different in my room. I laced them up, pulled out the papers stuffed at the toe, and put them on. I didn’t like them. Something was wrong. I didn’t like the way they felt. I began to wonder if the Nike pair I had in my hand before going with the New Balance felt better. Yup, they definitely didn’t feel right and, when it comes to sneakers, it’s mostly about feel… isn’t it?

Go figure, I would have thought that with the increase in variety and the wider selection of choices I would have been happier and more satisfied. But the opposite seems to be true. When I had fewer options to choose from, I stressed less and went home happier and more satisfied. Simply put, there was no reason to second guess, no reason to wonder what could have been or what should have been, there simply weren’t options. Is that better? I don’t know, but I do know I liked my sneakers a lot more back then.

Auspice Maria.
500 SW 127th Avenue, Miami, FL 33184
phone: 305.223.8600 | fax: 305.227.2565 | email:
Belen Jesuit Preparatory School was founded in 1854 in Havana, Cuba by Queen Isabel II of Spain.  The task of educating students was assigned to the priests and brothers of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), whose teaching tradition is synonymous with academic excellence and spiritual discipline.  In 1961, the new political regime of Cuba confiscated the School property and expelled the Jesuit faculty.  The School was re-established in Miami the same year, and over the next decade, continued to grow.  Today, Belen Jesuit sits on a 30-acre site in western Dade County, only minutes away from downtown Miami.