Softball Seniors Get Their Moment

News Story: May 1, 2011
From left are Jasmin Vicente, Jennifer Russell, Courtney Lee, President Petillo, Taylor Froelich, Shannon McCoy
and Kylie Abrams.

“So, you thought you were going to miss your graduation, but you didn’t,” said Don Cook, executive director of Intercollegiate Athletics, to the six seniors from the Sacred Heart University Pioneer softball team.

The seniors were unable to attend undergraduate commencement over the weekend due to the Northeast Conference (NEC) Championship game in Moon Township, Penn.  SHU was declared the 2011 NEC Softball Tournament champion on Sunday morning after the rain that drenched western Pennsylvania over the previous 48 hours caused the game to be suspended.  The Pioneers now advance to the NCAA Tournament as the NEC's automatic qualifier.

Even though the team was excited for their big win, it was easy to feel some regret in missing the milestone of their college commencement.

Jasmin Vicente puts on her
gown for the ceremony.

“It was a little rough for all of us not to be there on Sunday, but also really bittersweet because we won the championship,” said graduating senior Jasmine Vicente, of Wantagh, NY.

However someone did understand their sentiments that day.

“I was watching them at their championship game and saw them come out for the recognition ceremony with their softball uniforms and caps and gowns on,” said Cook. “It triggered a thought of ‘wait a minute, why don’t we do this the right way.’”

Cook contacted Jim Barquinero, vice president for Enrollment Planning & Student Affairs, and told him of his thoughts. From there they put together an event the seniors would never forget: their own personal graduation.

Cook explained that every student deserved to have their moment of graduating from college.

“We all have the opportunity to celebrate achievement on two levels- academics and athletics,” said Cook.

On Tuesday, the graduating seniors, their team, parents, administrators, as well as President John J. Petillo gathered to celebrate their triumphs on and off the field in a small ceremony in the Schine Auditorium.

Among those in attendance was softball Co-Head Coach Elizabeth Luckie, who graduated from Sacred Heart herself in 1985.

“This is absolutely outstanding,” said Luckie. “They came to play softball, but more importantly, for academics. This opportunity to meet with the president is something they will never forget.

Shannon McCoy, right, gets a congratulatory hug from Senior Associate Athletic Director Lucy Cox.  At left is Jennifer Russell.

The seniors wore their caps and gowns and entered the Schine auditorium to a room full of friends, family and members of the SHU community all singing Pomp and Circumstance. Parents in attendance expressed that they could not have been happier to see their daughters getting recognition for their accomplishments. And the seniors cheered and clapped as they took their seats and received their degrees one by one from President Petillo.

“It showed their spirit when they sacrificed their graduation to win the NEC title for the second time in three years,” said Petillo. “This is the least we could do to thank them.”