Grad Rings

It was a Sunday, and I was across the table from my dad. As I get older and become more independent, I have fewer and fewer of those ‘dad’ moments. For me, a lot of them were him driving me to and from my games and me just taking that time to ask him questions. If you ever thought your parents were Google when you were younger, I’ve been there. I think I exhausted every question you can think of. 

That Sunday, I was making some breakfast, and my pops was doing some work in the kitchen. The Grad Ring sizing email had just come out a few days earlier, and I hadn’t thought about it until he brought it up- “hey man, let me know what ring I should get you.” I didn’t answer for a few seconds, just kind of reflected. Then I shot back with, “hey, did you ever get a ring in high school?” 

He replied with, “yeah, and one in college too.” I then asked, “did you ever wear them?” He said, “they’ve both been in the same box for the last 30 years.”

I said, “that’s what I thought.” 

We all have a choice to purchase grad rings at the end of the year. They range from Siladium at $280 to 18 kt. Gold at $1,130. Some will choose the 18 kt. Some will choose Siladium. Some might shoot for the middle-sterling at 300 or 10kt at 630. I see most guys wear it when they receive it. A source of pride, tradition, maybe reflection- it’s symbolic. 

After Uni, some will choose to purchase another ring from their school. At work, some might choose to purchase some kind of token again. Maybe in the sports world, a few will have the opportunity to win championship rings. Some will wear them. Some won’t. 

I asked that question to my dad because I thought the idea of it was kind of ridiculous. We pay hundreds of dollars for some token of remembrance? I don’t believe any ring is necessary to hold those experiences, they are already with you, and they will stay with you. It’s like winning a sports championship- I think you earn every right to wear that just like you earn every right with your time at the college. However, why show it? Why the need to wear it? Those moments are with you, and that’s what matters. When you finish, when you’re done, step back and let go.

My dad asked again, “so do you want me to put an order in?”

I replied, “all good.” 

I asked my mentor in Y8, and someone who I have great respect for, Andrew Speirs what he thought about them. Here’s what Andrew said: 

“The importance of the grad ring is something that I would consider very subjective. It is something that in my opinion is symbolic of the culmination of your entire career at the college. For that reason, it’s importance to one of the boys who is a survivor starting in SK is likely vastly different from that of a boarder who is only at the college for just over a year when they have to decide on if they want to get one or not. As I sit here writing about grad rings with mine currently on my hand it is easy for me to say that they are important. For me personally, I was at the college for a full decade starting in grade 3. I chose to get one because I felt like I would regret it if I didn’t. For me it symbolizes my entire experience at UCC and every time I look at it it brings back fond memories. All the sports games and practices, the banter in the LD and the years of literally growing up with your best friends can be symbolized by a simple token such as a grad ring. Of course this isn’t the case for all the boys and every old boy including myself does not wear it at all times. However, you would be surprised how many of the boys are still wearing them on a consistent basis. Whether it be at a university party, on campus, reading week or just hanging out in the summer you can always find one of the boys with theirs on. As the years go by it’s also something that can bring a sense of community. As you leave the college you obviously get new friends but the bonds you develop with the UCC lads is something that can’t be broken.

Will I be wearing this ring every single day for the rest of my life? Absolutely not but that is besides the point. Whether it is the grad ring or it’s the sports jersey you got to keep or an old shirt, the possessions you keep from the college can stay with you for a lifetime. The grad ring is just one simple option that may be an investment (most of the boys will go for the cheapest one) but for me it represents something priceless so it was money well spent.”

However you feel about grad rings, they nod to our time at the college, and subsequently, how it is coming to an end. We’ve been robbed of any normalcy but we might as well make the most of it.

Special thanks to 18′ Andrew Speirs (Speirsy) for his thoughtfulness in his response and contribution.