“I feel good!” chanted a roomful of students from Greek Houses and college-sponsored clubs. “I feel great! Look out world, I am coming for you!”
In front of the crowd stood Don Tocco, benefactor of the college and one of its most dynamic annual visitors, who gave his annual speech to the student body on Nov. 5.
At the beginning of his speech, students were given copies of Tocco’s “There are no Grades in the Real World,” a pamphlet that emphasizes the importance of a good attitude, bettering yesterday’s best, courageous action, determination, and enthusiasm for achieving success outside of school.
Tocco also recounted lessons from his meetings with several prominent American businessmen and highlighted their strategies for success.
While he spoke about these businessmen, Tocco encouraged students to chant, “I feel good. I feel great. Look out world, I am coming for you!” to remind them of the importance of a good attitude.
Sophomore Aly Janke, who was in attendance, said Tocco’s speech resonated with her.
“I felt very empowered to start making a difference in my life and actively work on my future goals,” Janke said.
Tocco also discussed students’ reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the spring 2020 semester, Tocco asked several on-campus Greek houses and student organizations to write essays that detailed personal changes made as a result of the pandemic, lessons learned because of the virus, and advice they would offer to younger students.
Tocco read students’ essays and summed up his “2020 Tocco Challenge Essay” easily.
“While reading your amazing essays, I find myself being touched by your genuine sacrifices, courage, compassion, creativity and faith in God,” Tocco said in a letter. “I can honestly say that this time you [Hillsdale College students] have been my teacher and inspiration!”
Tocco reported that the most frequent adjustments for students were dealing with the hardships of online classes, overcoming isolation, readjusting to a family setting with many distractions, and missing the established outlets for socializing.
“The lessons learned and advice you offer could fill a book,” Tocco said.“COVID-19 has given you an extracurricular activity for which will receive no grade, but will reap substantive harvest from the learning process.”
These lessons, Tocco said, included not realizing how good things are until they’re gone, learning the true importance of family, and discovering how important friendships are.
During his time on campus, Tocco emphasized his belief in America’s goodness, its founding principles, and how he wants to support Hillsdale students as they protect these values.
One way of offering this support will be in his Don Tocco Challenge.
Following the speech, Tocco announced that he will bring back the competition, where he will compete against students to raise funds for student organizations.
Tocco said he will participate in free throw competitions, baseball and chess matches with students as part of the competition.
He gave some students an early opportunity to face off following his speech.
Sports Complex employee and senior Emma Matheson was on the court to witness Tocco’s skills.
“He was killing it,” Matheson said. “He was very confident in his capabilities and was demolishing all the students.”