Bainbridge High School will be bidding farewell to their beloved athletic secretary, front desk receptionist and die-hard sports fan.
If you have ever called the front office at Bainbridge High you’ve probably talked to Mary Sue Silver. And if you’ve ever attended a high school sporting event on the island, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Silver there as well, cheering on the students from the sidelines.
Mary Sue Silver has lived and breathed Spartan athletics since first arriving on the rock in 1986.
“I had four little kids, I didn’t know a soul, I had never been west of Chicago, Illinois in my life,” Silver said of her arrival on the Island.
“The first thing I did was go up to the high school and ask if I could buy a sports pass, and I planned on taking my family to all the football games and all the basketball games, so we would have something to do on Bainbridge Island, not knowing anybody,” Silver recalled.
What initially began as a means of getting to know Bainbridge became something much more for Silver.
Silver began subbing for the school district in 1990, and in 1992, she took the position as the athletic secretary at Bainbridge High. From there she says she never looked back.
“It’s just where I wanted to be every single day, never not wanted to go to work. It was a privilege to get to know all the teenagers on the island, in their world. I wasn’t threatening to them, I was not their mother, I was not their teacher. I was just there to help and to guide,” Silver said.
Flo Ferguson has worked with Silver for the last 14 years, and said Silver is the epitome of the athletic spirit.
“She walks the track at lunch, she engages in a spin class at her gym and she encourages her own son and daughters in athletics over the years. She has been active in the local swim club and has supported her family at local swim meets, college competitions and even the Olympics,” Ferguson said. “She is the consummate fan.”
“We have been lucky to have Mary Sue Silver at BHS in the athletic department as a constant and unwavering support for our students. I wish her well in retirement. I know she will always be a BHS Spartan in her heart,” Ferguson added.
Kaycee Taylor, athletic director at Bainbridge High, said Silver has been a shining example of Spartan spirit.
“She has been the heart of this department, always working with families, athletes and coaches in a positive manner. She had put in countless extra hours, with no expectation for pay or recognition, and attended competitions for thousands of Spartans,” he said.
She’s also made his job as athletic director “more rich, easier and enjoyable,” Taylor added.
After spending 27 years working in the school district, 25 years of which were spent working closely with high school students, Silver has learned a thing or two about student success.
Advising the future students of Bainbridge High, Silver said, “have fun. But work hard so that you have choices when you graduate. You can’t just work all the time; you have to have fun and laugh and take trips and fail and pull yourself back up. That’s how you learn,” she said.
Silver also took a moment to leave a little advice for the administrators, as well.
“I hope that in the future they recognize that there’s another path to success; it’s not always a four-year college degree path,” Silver said. “I don’t think going to college straight out of high school is the path for everybody. ”
Silver also noted that the recent switch of Bainbridge’s school colors from royal blue and gold to navy blue and gold was not her favorite judgment call by the higher-ups.
“I am the old school. I still like the royal blue and gold and I always will. I will always be a royal blue-and-gold supporter. The navy blue just doesn’t do it for me,” Silver said.
As for the fast-approaching days of retirement, Silver said she’s going to enjoy her mornings, uninterrupted by the ringing of bells.
“I don’t want to wake up to an alarm clock anymore. And I’m going to play golf with my husband, and I’m going to get to know my sisters again,” she said, adding that the move from their home in Ohio has made their relationships somewhat diminished by the distance.
Also on Silver’s retirement to-do list: learn to sew, spend time with her granddaughter in California, work with Island Volunteer Caregivers.
Looking back on her career at the high school, it’s clear for Silver that the time she spent at Bainbridge High School was something much more than just a job.
“It’s been a privilege to work for Bainbridge High School,” Silver said, her eyes misting a bit.
“Just knowing the kids in their world; they let me in. They let me be part of their life, and I just think that was awesome.”