BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — In these unique times, everything has changed for students across the country. For high school seniors, the end of year banquets have all turned to online celebrations.
On Thursday afternoon, St. Joe’s honored its 30 high school seniors who will be playing sports at the collegiate level with a virtual commitment celebration on their social media pages.
“It’s definitely different, my family had a party planned for me and stuff like that, get togethers and cookouts, but we can’t anymore, so it’s kind of like everyone has to congratulate from a distance,” St. Joe’s senior football player Micah Brown said. “That’s really all we can do.”
Micah is headed off to play Division II football at Stone Hill University for the Skyhawks in Easton, Massachusetts.
“It’s the same ordeal with me, everything is altered, even with when I’m going down to school. I was supposed to be going down later this month, but that was changed to June 29 is when I’m now going to report,” St. Joe’s senior football player Jason Walker said. “Initially I was supposed to go later this month, do a summer session for June, and come back here for the entire month of July. We were going to have a party planned and a little vacation, but that’s changed now. It changed everything, pretty much altered the entire course of what the summer is going to look like.”
Jason is headed to play Division I football at Fordham University for the Rams in the Bronx, New York.
“It’s definitely going to be different, because when you’re able to celebrate in person, you’re able to shout out your teammates and shout out your coaches, because they’re the ones that got you in these positions, so now it just seems like we’re the results of our coaches, that’s the only way we can see how their hard work paid off for us,” St. Joe’s senior runner Evan Hilbert said. “Not being able to have your final season, it’s kind of odd because you still have this feeling like you had something left to prove, and that you missed that opportunity. I’m using that to fuel my college freshman season.”
Evan is staying in Buffalo to run track and cross country for the Bulls at the University at Buffalo.
“It’s definitely different not being able to play your last senior season,” St. Joe’s lacrosse senior Trey Gehen said. “I transferred to Joe’s at the beginning of my junior year, so I only got one year on the team. For this year, it would’ve been a lot different, we don’t have as many guys as we did last year who were committed, so it would’ve just been a couple of us who were the main guys on the team this year.”
Trey is headed to play Division I lacrosse at Quinnipiac University for the Bobcats in Hamden, Connecticut.
“My coaches have really pushed me at St. Joe’s to keep improving and practicing, even throughout the summer they would come to some of my games, just talk to me and see how I was doing, improving and everything,” St. Joe’s baseball senior Elliot Widenor said.
Elliot is staying in town to play baseball at Canisius College for the Golden Griffs.
As these seniors wrap up their time at St. Joe’s and prepare for college and the real world, they reflect on the years spent at 845 Kenmore Ave and how the teachers, coaches, and faculty readied them for life beyond high school.
“From an academic standpoint, it definitely prepared us. A lot of alumni always come back and tell us that Joe’s is always harder than when we go to college,” Brown said. “For the football part, our coach that’s not the coach anymore, Derek Landry, he’s played at the highest level, and he’s prepared us for any aspect of football we could possibly understand, inside and outside of football. It definitely turned me into a better man, on the field and off the field, and I think when I get to Stone Hill it’s definitely going to reflect.”
“In terms of academics and athletically, Coach Landry definitely prepared us how to be better on the field but also off the field. How to be a better man, and Joe’s did that for us too,” Walker said. “Academically, mannerisms, just how to be prepared for life outside of Joe’s and beyond college.”
“Joe’s is very keen on turning boys into gentlemen,” Hilbert said. “You come out of this school a man, you’re able to take on any challenge that’s thrown at you. Going onto the next level, you’re ready for anything.”
Congratulations to the St. Joe’s Class of 2020, and good luck in your future athletic and academic endeavors!