Jack Gethings misses playing hockey. He misses the speed, the competitiveness, the immediacy of being on the ice. He attended Williston as a repeat junior in 2014, recruited by Coach Derek Cunha with the very clear goal of playing prep school hockey and having that experience catapult him to play in college. But the last time he strapped on skates for a game was in 2015, when he was a senior playing against Pomfret.
This trajectory—the end of an athletic career—would be tragic, were it not for the fact that Gethings is currently a star at Fairfield University, in Connecticut. He just happens to be on the baseball field instead.
A junior from nearby Wallingford, CT, Gethings is the starting shortstop for the Fairfield Stags, an NCAA Division 1 program. Part of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Gethings plays against colleges including Marist, Iona, Niagara, Siena, Quinnipiac, and Monmouth University.
His stats, and his bat, speak for themselves. As a freshman, playing third base – he switched to shortstop this year – he helped lead his team to a conference championship; as a sophomore he racked up an impressive .355 batting average, and Fairfield won the regular season title.
Gethings speaks of his accomplishments modestly, and gives credit to those who helped him make the switch from the rink to the diamond, including Coach Matt Sawyer.
The feeling is mutual.
“Jack was one of the better all-around players I have coached at Williston,” Sawyer said. Gethings, noted Sawyer, played strong defense at second and short, and, as either a lead-off hitter or batting second, “Jack shined,” hitting “line drives to all fields, getting on base at a fantastic rate.” Gethings earned all-league honors during both his years playing for the Wildcats.
Coach Sawyer continued to praise Gethings’ role as a senior year captain.
“Jack was a consummate teammate who led by example,” said Sawyer. “I am not surprised that he has been so successful at Fairfield because at Williston he worked hard at the game and displayed a balanced demeanor; he was able to work through the ups and downs of the game and stay mentally focused.”
After college, Gethings has dreams of playing minor league ball. This summer he’ll make moves in that direction by joining the “nest” of the Newport Gulls, a Newport, Rhode Island-based team in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. This will be his third summer league; after freshman year he played for the Albany Dutchmen; last summer he played for the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs out of Leominster, Massachusetts. Playing for these squads, and living with a family for the summer, has been “an awesome experience so far,” he said.
However, he “isn’t putting all his eggs in one basket.” To that end, he’s earning a degree in Accounting, a minor in Information Systems, and plans to be a tax accountant after graduation. His 3.31 GPA speaks to his ability, he said, to balance a busy athletic schedule with the academic demands of college.
It’s a tightrope walk he learned, and honed, while at Williston.
“Williston was just an awesome help: the atmosphere, the community, the routine you get into, it sets you up for college life.”
Gethings said once he got to Fairfield he was able to “hit the ground running compared to a lot of other student athletes. I knew the schedule, the time commitments; at Williston the routine you go through is very similar to [that of a] college student athlete.”
That time commitment at Fairfield includes a 6 a.m. wake up, breakfast from 7 to 8 with the team, class until 2 p.m., practice from 2:30 to 5 p.m., followed by dinner and studying.
Gethings said he learned those academic and time commitments while living in Conant House for his two years at Williston.
“From an academic standpoint, the classroom setting was very similar,” he said. “The workout and time commitment I’m used to needing to be successful translated to college life.”
He also made some lifelong friends while in Conant, including Rourke Ferguson ’15, Tyler Stroggins, Brandon Bourke, Joe Labreque '15, and Chris Dumont ’15.
In order to keep his grades where they are while still excelling on the field, Gethings said he makes sure to never procrastinate. He offered some wise advice for college-bound athletes, or anyone looking to be both a successful student and athlete.
“Don’t leave things for the last minute,” he said. “Especially playing college sports, you never know what could pop up, you might have to leave a day early, or have a team meeting, or meet with your coach. You Want to get on your assignments pretty quickly.”