Each week the month of May inches closer and the graduating students on campus begin to soak in the idea that soon they will no longer be within the walls of Springfield College. Reflecting on who has touched their lives, how they have grown, and anticipating what is to come next is becoming more common for these Pride members. As the weeks continue, I am lucky to learn about the moments and interactions that have latched themselves onto a few of these students, and share those moments across campus.
This week I spoke to Tyler Tocchio, an exercise science “super senior” from Norwell, Massachusetts whose ambitions have grown larger and whose path has found its focus.
Three years ago, Tocchio left school in St. Petersburg, Florida, transferring to Springfield College after completing his freshman and sophomore years, still unclear as to what career he wanted to pursue. For many, transferring schools can be a challenge, but for Tocchio, it was the opportunity he had been waiting for. He found a passion in exercise science, leadership in NSO, the orientation program at SC, and he finally had someone tell him those three important words he had been waiting to hear – “You know nothing.”
“Zane Pfefferle was a graduate assistant who I had for only one semester before he graduated,” says Tocchio. “We would meet early at 7:30 a.m. in the strength and conditioning room only twice a week for a resistance training class, but his impact, little does he know, has influenced me greatly.”
The last day of resistance training class ended as any other class, as Tocchio headed to shake Pfefferle’s hand and thank him for the semester. After the usual “it was a pleasure to have you in class,” Pfefferle, oddly, told his student “you know nothing,” leaving Tocchio confused for the remainder of his day
“He wasn’t trying to put me down by any means, he actually saw my potential,” explains Tocchio. “What he meant by this, in rough terms, was the knowledge base for the field that I am about to dive into is so vast and so opinion-based that at the end of the day I could feel like I know so much but in reality I don’t know everything.”
His words humbled his student and inspired Tocchio to see the potential he had in himself. Tocchio admits that school had never been an easy feat. Since childhood, he simply was not interested, and the foggy time he spent in Florida didn’t help his cause. He knew he was heading in the right direction when he came to Springfield. He has found a love for learning because for the first time it came easily to him, but he also had been touched by Pfefferle’s reinforcement.
“From this interaction I have taken each and every day head on, learning something from every experience that I come across,” Tocchio says. This learning curve is more than just a quest for knowledge, it is a life choice he expects to lead him through graduate school and his career.
“This love for learning is what is going to motivate me to go through the biggest challenge of my life,” says Tocchio. “Obtaining my doctorate in physical therapy, something I never thought would be imaginable before Dr. Pfefferle briefly entered my life.”
On his journey to graduation, Tocchio has had the opportunity to see Pfefferle at an American College of Sports Medicine Conference in Rhode Island and another time at a physiology lecture on campus. Though Tocchio expressed his thanks to Pfefferle on both occasions he would do it over and over again. Tocchio says, “I’m going to thank him again because he will never understand the true impact he has made on my life since he said those three little words.”
Tocchio’s experience is the perfect example of impact many of us can forget. Sometimes those unforgettable moments come in small conversations that may seem insignificant any other time, but they leave a print on you that lasts forever. The most transformational people in our lives don’t need to be the ones we see every day, or have been in our lives for years. Sometimes they come just when we need them to, and they disappear just as quickly as they came. Appreciating them, however, is everlasting.