Courage of the Fearless Crew

Julie Nardone ’79

I spent my first two years at Rollins avoiding courses that required me to speak or perform. Because of this, I can’t tell you the difference between a Monet and a Manet. The art history class I signed up for had an oral presentation on the syllabus. I noticed it and thought, “I’ll say something stupid and look like an idiot in front of the boys.”  I dropped the class and replaced it with Biological Diversity (Plants). No presentation, lots of microscope focusing.

During the winter term of my junior year, a friend who worked for the registrar burst into my dorm room. “You must take Professor Kane’s Intro to Theatre,” she said. “He makes everyone sing and dance around the room. I heard it’s a riot.”

“Sounds like fun,” I smiled, contemplating the class for 30 seconds before dismissing the idea. No way did I possess the courage to do anything like that. As the final date to register for spring classes approached, my friend mentioned that Harold[1]—the funniest guy on campus, the one I drooled over—had signed up for the class.

I wrestled with myself for a few hours before opening the registration form and adding the class. I sealed my form in the envelope and walked it over to the Registrar’s office.

On the way back to my dorm, I thought, “What have I done?”

Two weeks later, I showed up to the class and sure enough Harold was there. Professor Kane handed out the syllabus and asked, “Why did you all sign up?” Several students said they’d heard it would be fun. I hesitated to speak, but something deep inside pushed me to respond.

“To get out of my hellish shell,” I boomed from a couch in the back.

The room fell silent. Thirty-eight eyes turned to stare at me, including Harold’s. “I like your honesty, Julie,” Kane said.

His remark encouraged me. I felt my shell starting to crack.

At the end of the first class Kane asked, “Who’ll volunteer first to sing and dance around the room tomorrow?” I thrust my hand in the air, “I will.”

I regretted that decision right away. Why go first and be the guinea pig? What if I did it wrong? What would I sing? I grew so nervous that I had to chug half a Miller Light to make it to my scheduled performance the next morning at 10 a.m. I needed something to de-jumble my nerves.

“What are you going to sing for us?” asked Kane.

“The theme song from Gilligan’s Island.”  I’d always felt trapped by my emotions, so a song about a group of misfits unable to get off an island seemed appropriate.

I stepped into the middle of the circle of seated students. I wound myself up and let the lyrics sail out of my mouth as I began to dance around the edge. “Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip.” Fateful for sure if I embarrass myself in front of Harold.

“The weather started getting rough. The tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Minnow would be lost, the Minnow would be lost.” Fearless Crew. Fearless me?

“Higher, lift those knees higher,” Kane shouted as he and my classmates clapped at my every turn.

I skipped around the circle faster and faster, losing my fear of expressing my emotions, losing my fear of looking silly, losing my fear of being out of control. Kane’s unconventional teaching style would go on to empower me to take speech classes my senior year, teach in graduate school, speak at town meetings, and sing at karaoke nights. His class would also inspire me to participate in my own life. Being on that Rollins stage taught me that the only way to get off my emotionless island was to give myself permission to show emotion.

Round and round I skipped, practically churning myself into theatrical butter. I loved this. I felt free for the first time since childhood. Nothing could stop me now.

Well, nothing but the clock.

My song and dance was almost over. But I didn’t want to sit down. Why couldn’t it be a three-hour tune? Kane clapped, “Well done, Julie. You’ve shown the others how to do it.”

Julie Nardone

Me, a leader?

I sat down amid the applause. No one had laughed at me.

At the end of class, Harold approached. “Are you always this brave?”

1 The name has been changed.

Julie Nardone ’79 lives in Massachusetts where she is a freelance writer, inspirational rebel, and karaoke singer. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines as well as on the radio and the Internet. Contact Julie at to chat about the good old days at Rollins.