I have never been very good at goodbyes. Every time I visit my parents in Canada, I write them a letter and slip it under their bedroom door before leaving back to the east side of Canada, the United States, or Europe. I tell them how much they mean to me, my favourite memory, or a silly story I had of our most recent trip together.
For Sas and Ro, it seems only fitting to write their farewell from Amsterdam November Project leadership in a letter as well. It is not a forever goodbye we hope. But a passing of leadership and a changing of roles. It is a letter of gratitude and a letter of recognition. So here it goes.
Dear Saskia and Roderik,
Leadership is defined as the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal. I think I can speak for everyone at November Project Amsterdam when I say that Sas and Ro embodies what it means to be leaders. Whether we were a newbie or a long-time member, they have an art of motivating us towards the common goal of movement. Every Wednesday morning rain or shine (and often more rain than shine), they showed up and welcomed us with smiles, hugs, and laughter. They epitomize what it means to be a leader. They encouraged fun, sweat, positivity, and commitment.
I remember running down the small hill towards the Nemo stairs every Wednesday just before 6:28 am and the two of them would be bundled up in their tagged vests or sweaters and busy making lines with chalk or talking with the early birds. It didn’t matter if they were busy, they would immediately stop what they were doing and greet Kid X and I with smiles and a goedemorgen. Kid X would always ride his bike ahead eager to be greeted by Ro’s notorious bear hug or Sas’s charismatic grin.
We looked forward to this Wednesday morning welcome each week and in time came to rely on it. It is like your first cup of coffee in the morning. You anticipate it, prepare for it, and experience your body absorbing the caffeine. That is what it felt like to be greeted every week by Sas and Ro. Our anticipation started Tuesday night, we prepared for the workout Wednesday morning, we commuted to the nemo stairs, and once there we felt more alert, awake, and alive then before.
They always started on time with a high energy bounce and immediately followed it up with a 35-minute stair or bridge workout. Their leadership, however, went beyond this hour on Wednesday morning. They organized social runs and events, kept us apprised of November Project news, ran the social media accounts, and encouraged us to achieve our own personal goals and, in many cases, acted as personal cheerleaders towards these goals. They remembered members birthdays and made people feel special with a birthday boom. If there was a pop-up run or the yearly ugly sweater run, they would always be there to lead large group warm-ups and spread warm encouragements. But their leadership went even deeper, they were more than leaders of a fitness group. They are our friends. They were always available for phone calls, text messages, or meetups. They checked up on members if they were absent and genuinely cared for their Amsterdam family.
Heather & the NP Ams Family
Today we met in Vondelpark for an appreciation flyby. A group of us showed up to see Sas and Ro and baby James. Tears were shed, laughter was had, and memories were exchanged. After sharing a few departing words, Sas and Ro gifted Dani and I two door hangers. On one side, “November Project” is printed on it and on the other side the words “leadership lives here” are written. I can say from both Dani and I, that Sas and Ro inspired us and taught us how to be better leaders. They lived and breathed it. These are going to be tough shoes to fill but you have left them pointed in the right direction.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your commitment, your authenticity, your friendship, your inspiration, and, above all else, your art of leadership. Even without those door signs, I know that leadership will continue and forever live within your hearts.
Please feel free to share your gratitude or a memory of Sas & Ro in the comments.Share via socials: