By Claire Jow (23A01B)
Photos courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society
Year after year, each batch of students comes and goes, graduating to make something of themselves in this great wide world. On 23 July, however, as part of RI’s bicentennial initiatives, the alumni of our school’s CCAs – ranging from fresh-faced 20-somethings to middle-aged careermen in their 50s – were invited back to school in an event known as Gryphon Recall.
In the basketball court, friends and family gathered along the sidelines as players, from batches as senior as Batch ‘73 to the current Raffles ‘23 batch, passed and dribbled with extraordinary speed. This was Basketball’s Gryphon Cup, where past batches played against each other in a friendly competition.
The shrill sound of the whistle broke through the air, signalling that one of the matches was over. Cheers erupted from the stands and the players walked towards the sidelines to take a much-needed drink of water. Some grouped together, talking and reminiscing about the old days.
“Basketball was dominated by Chinese schools,” recalled Mr Ong, Batch ‘81’s Captain of Basketball. “RI was the only English school playing.”
Mr Ong has a very deep connection with his former CCA, despite having graduated decades ago. “Every tournament, [I] must come back to see what is happening in the school,” he said. “The old players still come together to play very often, and we still feel close [even though] we are old.”
When asked about what had changed since his time in RI, he said, “Last time, [their playing had] more control. [It was] more slow but more thinking. Now I see more power but less thinking.
An award ceremony was held in the afternoon. The top teams for Gryphon’s Cup were Batch ‘18 and ‘12, tied in third place, Batch ‘17, in second place, and Batch ‘09 and ‘10 in first place.
Young and old generations of Basketball playing together in the spirit of fun.
At the cages, the alumni of Sailing gathered to play various team games, such as Captain’s ball and floorball.
Telling jokes and swapping stories about the places they had been since they graduated, it was undeniable that the sailing batches had a strong bond.
“In the past two years since graduation everyone has forged their own path,” said Natalia (19S03F), Batch ‘19’s Captain of Sailing. “It’s hard [to keep in touch] sometimes when we’re busy. But sailing can be a lifestyle, and some of us are still in competitive [teams], so we sometimes meet each other at the sailing centre.”
The conversation turned to how Sailing had changed in the years since she graduated. “We used to sail once or twice a week, and went to East Coast to do so. On Monday we had PT and games at the cages, so the cages are actually quite momentous for us,” Natalia explained. “Since Covid is becoming more endemic, maybe [the current batch] can get a chance to relive that.”
Playing bonding games in the cages, where Sailing trains every Monday
Walking onto the hockey field, this writer was nearly struck by a flying disc whizzing past her head. This was, of course, Ultimate Frisbee’s territory. Alumni gathered on the sidelines, talking and laughing with their friends. Several coolers were placed on the fake grass, providing a much-needed luxury under the sweltering sun.
The players skillfully passed the Frisbee from hand to hand, an audible “ohhh” going up from the crowd every time it flew out of bounds.
“‘If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go with a group,” quoted Nikolas, who graduated in 2016. “I did a lot of things I wouldn’t have done normally, like training 4 days a week until the sun went down. When I had my friends around me it magically became a lot easier.”
Ultimate Frisbee has now become quite a popular CCA among the incoming batches, with many Y5s signing up for trials every year. “I think it’s become one of the coolest sports to be in,” Nikolas said proudly. “It’s beginner-friendly – All you need is just a disc. Now we have a national team programme. Outside the schooling level, we have a lot more clubs, competitions… back when I was in JC it wasn’t so prevalent. We were playing in terrible fields… Now it’s more refocused and we have actual regulations.”
Jen Yang, Nikolas’ batchmate who graduated in the same year, agreed. “The faces are different but the vibe is still the same,” he said, joking that he now felt “geriatric”. “[I remember] training until 10 p.m. when they turned off the stadium lights and we would continue training in the dark. Once we sneaked into the school gymnasium to bounce on the trampoline!”
The alumni of Ultimate Frisbee tossing the disc back and forth at lightning speed.
Other CCAs that participated in Gryphon Recall include Judo, Soccer (Girls), Touch Rugby, Chinese Orchestra, Tennis, Rugby, ODAC, Water Polo, Floorball, Netball and Softball. Unfortunately, due to time constraints and scheduling conflicts, we were unable to cover all of them.
“It was very fun and heartwarming to see the seniors come down to play,” said Clara Tan (23S03E), a current member of Netball. “The seniors shared very interesting and funny anecdotes about their experiences both in school and the sport.”
To conclude, Gryphon Recall was a reminiscing of old times, a reuniting of old friends, and a good game played on all ends. It is plain to see: the Rafflesian spirit still burns brightly years after leaving the school.