In Fords in Four, we ask an alumnus four questions; he shares insights and stories. Cole Berman '14 reminisces on his journey from managing the golf team in fifth grade to serving as director of Haverford's golf program now. He also shares how he and his friends are helping to support healthcare workers and restaurants through their nonprofit, Fuel the Fight.
What are your fondest memories of Haverford?
I am an only child and I am beyond lucky to have had parents who gave me the chance to be at Haverford for 14 years. My friends were the closest thing I had to brothers. Being a part of the Haverford community was my first experience with being a part of something bigger than myself. There are countless experiences and a number of faculty members who played a large role in my life. In particular, English teacher Mr. Keefe really left a mark on me. In junior year, he introduced us to Emerson and Thoreau and transcendentalism. Most of all, what stuck with me was our time studying The Great Gatsby. It is still my favorite book – I kept my copy that has notes and highlights on every page!
What led you to coaching golf at Haverford, and what do you hope to teach your players?
When I was in fifth grade, I walked into the office of then-varsity golf coach Bob Thomas and asked if I could be the “manager” of the varsity team. For some reason, he said yes. Coach Thomas gave me a team shirt (it’s still too big for me) and from then on, I was the manager. I would go to varsity matches, collect scorecards, and caddy for one player a match. The guys who I caddied for and pestered with questions then, are now some of my closest friends and frequent golf partners. When I was a freshman, Gui Costin ’85 became the head golf coach at Haverford. After he graduated from Haverford in 1985, he played golf at the University of Virginia and went on to have a highly competitive amateur career. As I was a young golfer with similar dreams, it meant the world to have Gui share his time and experience with us.
I never expected to coach at 23 and am very grateful to have been given the opportunity by Gui and by Haverford. Overall, golf, like life, is a game of learning. I have been extremely lucky to have had countless people give me a chance and teach me something along the way. I see paying it forward as my responsibility in life and coaching is an important part of that. My hope for each boy that plays on the team is that he will be left with great memories, along with a passion for all that the game of golf is and what it asks of you as a person.
I have been shaped by all my experiences and the core values that Haverford instilled in during my 14 years there. When I was a senior, the author Wes Moore came to speak at an assembly and spoke about finding that thing in life makes your heart beat a little faster. You may not find it during your time at Haverford, but I think it is a great place to start looking for it.
Tell me about starting Fuel the Fight. What influenced you and your friends to give back to the community?
What started out as a normal text conversation on March 19 led to the launch of Fuel the Fight less than 10 hours later. It was bothering me that I was comfortable at home during this COVID-19 crisis while many did not have that same luxury. My friend, Bill Conners (Malvern Prep ’09), felt the same way. He came up with our current mission: purchasing meals from local restaurants and delivering them to healthcare workers. Our team grew to six the next morning and we haven’t looked back since.
Fuel the Fight can now be found in 20 locations in the United States and in London. We have raised more than $800,000, which has allowed us to deliver 50,000 meals. It has given us an unexpected learning experience and opportunity to create something that outlasts the current situation. Fuel the Fight consists of more than 75 volunteers, 80% of whom are in their 20s. It has shown us that we do not have to wait until we are a certain age to have an impact. All it takes is conviction and action. There are 30 million Americans in our age group and I think we should be playing a greater role in public service both locally and nationally. We are hoping that Fuel the Fight can help accomplish this in years to come.
What advice do you have for current students at Haverford?
My advice is to be curious and to think long-term. Haverford is a one-of-a-kind place and you will remember your time there for the rest of your life. Take advantage of the incredible opportunity you have to call it home and all that it provides you. I have been shaped by all my experiences and the core values that Haverford instilled in during my 14 years there. When I was a senior, the author Wes Moore came to speak at an assembly and spoke about finding that thing in life makes your heart beat a little faster. You may not find it during your time at Haverford, but I think it is a great place to start looking for it.
Cole also was the special guest speaker during a Haverford Lower School Community Time session on May 14, and answered questions from Lower School students. You can see the full recording from this session on the Lower School Community Padlet.