More than 60 people, including parents, grandparents, teammates, coaches, and friends, showed up to recognize the six Williston athletes headed to play Division III college sports next year (see photos here).
Those honored by Athletic Director Mark Conroy at the May 17 ceremony, held in the Chapel, were: Anabelle Farnham, who will be swimming for Pomona College, in Claremont, California; David Janoschek, headed to play water polo for Chapman University in Orange, California; hockey player Billy Smith, who’ll be playing for the Greyhounds of Assumption College, in Worcester, Massachusetts; Caleb Cost, headed to play basketball at Bowdoin College in his hometown of Brunswick, Maine; Mike Manley, off to play basketball at Union College in Schenectady, New York; and Josh McGettigan, who’s headed to play basketball at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York.
After a round of photos with family, coaches, and teammates, many of the college-bound scholar-athletes stuck around to talk and celebrate with family and friends. Billy Smith’s grandmother, Elena Conley, came up from her and her grandson’s hometown, Hyde Park, Massachusetts, and watched as Smith chatted with a few of his Wildcat hockey teammates.
“It’s terrific,” Conley, 86, noted. “I didn’t think I’d be around this long,” she joked.
Smith’s sister, Caroline, and his girlfriend, MacKenzie, were also there for support. Caroline, also a senior, graduating from Boston Latin Academy, is excited to see her brother play; she’ll be nearby, studying nursing at Regis College. “He’s always had a passion,” she said, “and he always said no matter what college he went to he’d play hockey.”
It’s a sense of family pride echoed by Smith’s mom, Kate. “I’m happy because he’s happy,” she said. “It’s always been his goal.”
Smith’s path to Assumption began when he put on skates at three years old. After playing 7th and 8th grade at Boston Latin School, and then moving to Catholic Memorial School, in West Roxbury, for freshman through junior year, he ended up at Williston last year. The moves, he said, forced him to “adapt to the play style and adapt to a new coach each time.” The process, he said, made him a stronger player. It was also at Williston where he learned to hone his time management skills and balance time on the ice with time doing work.
He was quick to thank his parents as well.
“My whole family has been there for me since day one,” Smith said. “My mom, sister, and especially my dad. My dad coached me all throughout my life and taught me everything I know. He has been by my side all my life and pushed me to want to succeed in all aspects of life. They are my biggest fans and I cannot thank them enough for everything they have done to get me to this point.”
In an email, David Janoschek, who’ll be on the Chapman University water polo team, was candid about the challenges he’s faced along the way in his pursuit to play at the collegiate level.
“Living in Massachusetts and trying to play collegiate water polo aren’t the best combination,” he said. “Most people from around here don’t even know what water polo is, and there isn’t a single club team in the state of Massachusetts to practice with during the year.”
Janoschek said for the majority of his high school career, “this has meant driving to Stamford, Connecticut to practice with Chelsea Piers water polo, which has taken a lot of time and dedication on my end, but even more so for my parents who make the drive from Acton, Massachusetts almost every week.”
On top of the constant travel, there is the difficult talk, he explained, of proving yourself against athletes from California, or as he called it, “water polo Mecca.”
“They pump out players like a factory,” Janoschek said. “Bigger, faster, stronger, smarter, more tan. They basically have the east coast beat in every way, and the biggest challenge is trying to convince people that although you’re from Massachusetts, you can still play on that level.”
Mike Manley seemed to breathe a literal sigh of relief discussing his process of finally choosing a school.
“It’s was a long, stressful process,” Manley, a post graduate who’s headed to Union College, where he’ll play basketball, said. His mom, Susan, elaborated.
“The PG school year was great, it went so fast. But the deciding, the choosing, the whole process, it was a little stressful.”
Manley admitted he waited until April 30 – the night before his decision was due – to choose Union.
“At 9:00 p.m.,” his mom added with a smile.
The sense of accomplishment, and of a long process finally coming to an end, was echoed by Manley’s teammate Josh McGettigan, as well as his parents, Kim and Kevin, who came up from Southbury, Connecticut. McGettigan formally signed his letter of intent to play basketball – on a full scholarship — for the College of Saint Rose, in Albany.
“I’m so proud of him for sticking with it and continuing to work work work,” Kim said.
McGettigan said he’s happy the “long haul” process of looking at colleges is finally over.
“I feel like the world’s off my shoulders,” he said. He also added that it will also be “nice to know I won’t be coming out in debt.”