Category: Alumni News (Page 1 of 7)
Cole Kmet ’17 holds a rare distinction among student-athletes at the University of Notre Dame. Not only is he a dual-sport athlete, but he is the first dual-sport athlete to have been the starting pitcher in a baseball game since 2010.
That uniqueness was not lost on officials during last season’s Shamrock Series football game, played at Yankee Stadium, when the Fighting Irish faced the Orange from Syracuse. Turns out Kmet was the only player who also plays baseball to appear in the game.
For the record, he caught one 17-yard pass during the game and came in multiple times on special teams and as a blocking tight end.
Thanks to the efforts of former Steele Intern and current @FightingIrish Associate Director of Athletics Communications, @Scholl, @ColeKmet’s helmet has a new home here in Cooperstown. Photo: Milo Stewart Jr. https://t.co/6hKQWItbaI pic.twitter.com/ypaXnzWtTC
— Baseball Hall ⚾ (@baseballhall) January 17, 2019
Sports writers found it ironic that this left-handed pitcher was wearing pinstripes at Yankee Stadium, to play football.
Now, that moment will live on in history. Last month, officials with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Coopersburg announced they had requested and received Kmet’s helmet be added to their collection.
It is the only football helmet to be acquired by the Hall of Fame, though there are other pieces of football history preserved in Cooperstown, officials said.
Jon Shestakofsky, vice president of communications & education at the museum said that while the majority of their collection comes from the baseball diamond, they also collect other pieces that tell the story of baseball’s connections off the field.
“We were particularly interested in collecting the helmet used by Cole,” Shestakofsky said, “a two-sport athlete who also stars on Notre Dame’s baseball team, as he clearly has a love for baseball.”
The acquisition had to be approved by the NCAA compliance department, and Kmet, himself, but that was an easy call.
“It’s obviously very cool and a tremendous honor to have something of mine in the Baseball Hall of Fame,” Kmet said. “It’s cool to know that when I go there someday I can see my helmet in the hall.”
He also liked the uniqueness of the acquisition.
“How cool to have a piece of football memorabilia make its way all the way to the Baseball Hall of fame,” Kmet added.
Kmet learned of the honor in late December, during a football practice in preparation for the team’s Cotton Bowl appearance as part of college football’s Bowl Championship Series semi-finals.
“We were able to have our head baseball coach, Mik Aoki, come out to a football practice to surprise Cole that the Hall of Fame wanted his helmet,” said Michael Scholl, assistant director of athletics communications. “So that was a special moment and made it even more unique.”
No doubt, Kmet and his family will make a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. After all, they are a baseball family, with Casey Kmet ‘19 committing to play baseball this fall at Notre Dame, and learning this month that he is a pre-season All-American.
The drive is named for Hall of Fame Chicago Bear and former Saint Viator parent, Walter Payton. His son, Jarrett, graduated from Saint Viator in 1999 and he continues to be an ambassador for the school.
For the last 14 years, Saint Viator students have worked to help the foundation distribute toys to children in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, as well as individual families and the families of veterans in need
This year, Emma Abrahamian ’19, Tara Valentino ’20 Jack Ziebka, ’21, Maeve McDonough, ‘22 and Jasmyn Alaba ‘22 led the drive as class leaders. Together with ICC Co-Presidents Maura Hogaboom ’19 and Danny Thompson ’19, they began fundraising for the project as far back as Halloween.
According to Mrs. Anne Marie Lowery and Mrs. Cathy Abrahamian, who moderated the drive, students and faculty raised nearly $2,500. From those funds, each class was able to purchase toys while faculty members purchased new bicycles.
Students and their families also donated individual toys and stuffed animals. In fact, it was a common sight to see teens walking into school with bags of gifts.
“So many students came to school in the morning with their Target, Kohl’s, or Walmart bags,” Mrs. Lowery said, “and placed their purchased items in the collection boxes, with pride.
“As we sorted through them I was so proud to see the variety of items,” she added. “It was clear that they had put great care into choosing a present a child would enjoy.”
When the drive ended on Nov. 30, students and their families had filled 25 large boxes of toys and seven bicycles, including two which were donated. Last week, on the delivery date, student leaders filled four pick-up trucks, two cars and an SUV to the brim with toys.
For Mrs. Lowery, who is in her first year as Student Activities Director at Saint Viator, she was amazed at just how much students got into the drive and worked to make Christmas merry for other children.
“Their spirit of generosity,” Mrs. Lowery said, “just blew me away.”
After serving Saint Viator High School for a combined 19 years, Fr. Daniel Hall, CSV, has been called back to his community to lead the Viatorians as Provincial Superior.
His election came Friday, when Viatorians in this country and in Colombia voted Fr. Hall as their “first pastor.” While he had been serving as acting Provincial over the last four months, succeeding Fr. Robert. M. Egan, CSV, when he was elected Superior General in July, he now will devote himself fully to the Viatorian Community and advancing its spiritual mission.
In speaking to his confreres at a Mass after the election, Fr. Hall pointed to his predecessors as his role models, including Fr. Kenneth Morris, Fr. Patrick Render, Fr. Charles Bolser, Fr. Egan and Fr. Thomas von Behren.
“Forty years ago, when I entered the community, I had absolutely no idea that I would ever be asked to serve in this role,” Fr. Hall said. “I am truly humbled to follow these men.”
At the same time, Viatorians elected Br. Michael Gosch, CSV, ‘74 and Fr. Mark Francis, CSV, ‘71 to serve with Fr. Hall on his Provincial Council. Br. Gosch formerly taught English at Saint Viator High School and now co-directs the Viator House of Hospitality with Fr. Corey Brost, CSV.
Fr. Francis served the Viatorians as Superior General, from 2000 – 2012. He currently leads Catholic Theological Union in Chicago as president. It is one of the largest graduate schools of theology in the country.
Fr. Dan Lydon, CSV, ’73, and Br. Rob Robertson, CSV, were appointed to fill out the four-man Provincial Council. Both formerly taught at Saint Viator. Fr. Lydon left last year to serve as associate pastor at Maternity BVM in Bourbonnais, while Br. Robertson serves in Campus Ministry at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas.
Fr. Hall and his new Provincial Council members will be formally installed during a Mass at the Viatorian Province Center on Dec. 16.
For the last year and a half, Fr. Hall has served as Vice President of Viatorian Identity and Mission at Saint Viator. Along with serving as an assistant football and wrestling coach, and teaching social studies courses, Fr. Hall oversaw aspects of Campus Ministry, the Religion Department and outreach initiatives, to make sure they reflected the Viatorian mission.
In his new role as Provincial Superior and chair of the Board of Governors of Saint Viator High School, Fr. Hall will continue to remain involved with Saint Viator and its mission of providing religious formation and academic excellence for young people.
“At the end of the day, we hope students leave here with the idea of a life of service,” Fr. Hall said. “That’s the Viatorian understanding of living a Christian life.”
“It’s a different kind of pressure,” Timmy says. “Now, as a senior, I know I’m expected to medal.”
And medal he did, at last week’s ESCC conference meet. Timmy earned the first-place medal, for the second time in four years, and led his team to a conference championship. He is the first in Saint Viator’s boys’ golf program to take first in conference, two times.
“It’s a pretty awesome achievement,” says Coach Jack Halpin, of Timmy, who scored a 70 at the tournament, or two under par.
Ready for Regionals! pic.twitter.com/PZ1T1WSbMb
— Coach Jack Halpin (@SVBoysGolf) October 2, 2018
Timmy’s latest medal capped a season where he finished in the top five in every tournament and took first in four of them. Over the summer, he competed in American Junior Golf Association tournaments in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, South Carolina, and Wisconsin, and all before prospective college coaches looking on.
Still, he says, if there’s one thing he’s learned during his four years in Saint Viator’s golf program, it’s that it’s not about individual honors.
“Playing at Saint Viator has taught me a ton about the team aspect of the sport,” Timmy says. “Before my freshman year, all I did was play for myself, but now I realize that every shot counts toward the team score. You want to play better to help the team.”
Timmy grew up playing golf with his grandfather, Bob Brehm, and his uncles, including Greg Brehm ’79, and so along with his love of basketball, he knew he wanted to play golf in high school and beyond.
In order to advance his game, Timmy works out in the weight room at Saint Viator, while playing four to five times a week indoors during the offseason. He also works with John Perna ’00, who played golf for Coach Halpin and later at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Perna now runs a golf academy, TPS Player Service, where he trains professional, collegiate and top junior players. At his Downers Grove facility, he and his staff work with players to understand ball flight physics while improving performance under the most intense tournament pressure.
“It’s not golf instruction, it’s golf training,” Timmy says. “He uses a launch monitor to measure our ball flight and other technology to help with putting while helping with the mental aspect of the game and course management.”
Still, Timmy and his teammates have more pressing things on their mind than mechanics. They hope to advance out of regionals, which take place Tuesday at Old Orchard Country Club in Prospect Heights.
“We finished second last year at the state championships,” Timmy says. “This year our goal is to get back to the state championships, and this time win it.”
As far back as she can remember, Barbara Benas ’06 has loved to draw, and as a teen, she attended classes at the School of the Art Institute while attending Saint Viator. Consequently, when it came time to think about college, she knew just what she wanted to pursue: fine arts, and in particular, animation.
She would go on to attend the Columbus College of Art & Design, one of the oldest art schools in the country, where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in animation, in 2010.
Benas has worked in the animation field ever since and her passion for the medium paid off: Earlier this month, Benas was part of a team of animators who won an award for outstanding individual achievement in animation. Specifically, Benas and her team won the award for outstanding motion design for their work on the Comedy Central show, Broad City, and its episode, called “Mushrooms.”
Benas accepted her award at the Creative Arts Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, as part of the 70th annual Emmy Awards, which took place a little over one week later.
Mr. Matt Gruenfeld remembers having Benas in his Art 2 class and that she participated in the National Art Honor Society.
“She was a gifted art student during her time here at Saint Viator,” Mr. Gruenfeld said. “It’s good to see she found success in a career creating art.”
While her primary specialty is hand-drawn animation, she has adapted with the industry and uses such digital tools as Flash, Photoshop, TV Paint and After Effects. With Saint Viator’s state of the art fine arts department, students now explore these same tools in such classes as Introduction to Adobe Photoshop and iPad Media Arts.
It’s all part of Saint Viator’s vision statement: where tradition and innovation meet.
Recently appointed Athletic Director Jason Kuffel has announced the appointment of Patrick Gaeger as the new Lacrosse Head Coach at Saint Viator High School. Gaeger, a 2008 graduate, recently joined the staff as Assistant Director of Enrollment. He returned to his alma mater from Saint Laurence High School in Chicago where he had served as head coach of the lacrosse team.
“We are extremely fortunate to have a coach who helped build our young but successful tradition of success in lacrosse as a player, join us as our coach,” said Kuffel. In addition to his stint as head coach at Saint Laurence, Gaeger was Associate Head Coach at Robert Morris University and has been involved in the sport at the club level. After a stellar career at Saint Viator, Gaeger played collegiately at Adrian College. He replaces Bill Sanford who finished his head coaching career 3rd all-time in wins for Illinois Lacrosse, a 4x ESCC coach of the year and the 2011 IHSLA coach of the year.
“We fully expect that the standards established by Coach Sanford will continue under the stewardship of Patrick Gaeger,” said Kuffel. “We continue to raise the bar on expectations for our student-athletes not only in the field of play but in the classroom and in the community. Our athletics program stands firmly on our pillars of academic success and faith formation for young men and women, and as a graduate and employee of Saint Viator, Coach Gaeger is well-equipped to meet and exceed our expectations.”
In addition to his work in the Enrollment Department, Gaeger is also working as an Assistant Coach during the football season. “I am honored and humbled by this opportunity, and welcome the challenge of upholding the standards established at Saint Viator,” Gaeger said. “I look forward to getting to know our athletes and their families, and pursuing excellence in all we do in the lacrosse program.”
Last season the team finished with an overall record of 16-5, bowing out of the IHSA State Playoffs at the hands of the powerful New Trier program.
A standing-room only crowd filled a classroom in the Boler Center Tuesday night. Parents, alumni, students and administration members all attended the launch of Saint Viator High School’s newest initiative: its incubator program.
Called INCubator.Edu, the year-long entrepreneurship class will help students conceptualize an idea for a product or service, and take it through development and its business plan, through marketing, financial budgeting and ultimately making a pitch to investors.
“It’s an exciting opportunity and new addition to our curriculum,” said Brian Liedlich, president. “This new class can help students develop critical thinking as well as important, marketable and valuable skills.”
Both he and Principal Karen Love described the new course as one that embodies the school’s vision statement, “Where innovation and tradition meet.” In fact, a mural with that tagline etched across the school’s logo graces the back wall of the classroom.
Fr. Charles Bolser, CSV, former president of the high school who now serves as chaplain, was on hand to bless the incubator. He professed to love the new venture, describing the class and its students as “our future.”
“Seize the day,” he said. “Dreams are our hope, our inspiration, our life.”
David Lyons, a first-year teacher who formerly taught entrepreneurship at York High School in Elmhurst, will be working with John Aiello ’86, who has reached out to the alumni base to serve as coaches and mentors.
Aiello is the former founder, CEO and chairman of SAVO, a cloud-based software company, who after selling his company now teaches entrepreneurship at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
“The best innovation ideas do not come from a desire to make money,” Aiello said, “but from a desire to solve a problem.”
Students are brainstorming ideas right now and will begin streamlining the process next week. Soon after, they will divide into groups of four or five and be assigned a mentor, who will meet with them regularly to help advance their business concepts, while coaches will come into class regularly to teach their area of expertise.
Among the students on hand was Anna Haas, who came directly from her volleyball practice.
“I want to major in management in college,” Anna said. “This is a great opportunity to get some business experience before I get to college and just understand how things work.”
This is the first year of what administrators hope will be a successful collaboration between young entrepreneurs and their mentors and coaches.
“We’re definitely looking to grow the program,” Mr. Liedlich adds, “and would welcome any additional funding to help us accomplish this.”
Interested supporters should contact Tom Ramsden, director of institutional advancement, at TRamsden@saintviator.com.
Saint Viator’s 2014 valedictorian, Tyler Harris, earned a prestigious scholarship to Notre Dame, which enabled him to work with the university’s chief investment officer and ultimately opened the doors to internships from California to South Africa.
Tyler’s global experiences landed him a job as a business analyst with one of the leading management consulting firms, McKinsey & Company in Chicago, where he will start next month.
Yet, before he starts, Tyler wanted to spend his time giving back, in service to others. For the last two months, he has been helping the young men at Viator House of Hospitality, a safe home started by the Viatorians for young men seeking asylum in the United States.
Tyler is the fourth Saint Viator graduate to serve as a summer intern at the home, run by Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, and Br. Michael Gosch, CSV. He followed Jason Wilhite, Annie Slusher and Steven Bonica.
Summer interns spend anywhere from six to 15 hours a week at the house, located in Des Plaines, which currently has 21 young men living there. They do a variety of tasks, from tutoring and driving them to school and jobs, to organizing activities and volunteer opportunities.
“It’s a chance to learn about immigration and help young men around their age seeking asylum,” Fr. Corey adds.
Just this week, Tyler and some of its residents worked in the Viatorian Community Garden, that grows fresh produce for families served by area food pantries. In fact, the young men of Viator House have their own bed of plants, and Tyler led them in harvesting some of their tomatoes, which they then brought to Catholic Charities in Des Plaines.
It’s a far cry from the work he’ll be doing with McKinsey, which will immerse him in data analytics and problem-solving situations, while working collaboratively with corporate clients to find solutions.
However, Tyler says his Saint Viator education opened his eyes to the importance of direct service, as well as preparing him to do well in his finance and economics majors at Notre Dame.
“Saint Viator has challenged me not only to pursue a rigorous academic education, but to balance it, spiritually, socially and through service,” Tyler said before he graduated. “That’s what has separated a Viator education.”
Yet at Saint Viator, Caroline is the fifth student over the last two years—and the third in this year’s senior class—to achieve this rare feat.
She succeeds Katie Solarz of Arlington Heights, who starts her sophomore year at the University of Notre Dame; Thomas Stanila of Algonquin, valedictorian of the class of 2018 and a freshman at Loyola University; and her classmates, Thomas Constertina and Maura Hogaboom, both of Arlington Heights.
“We certainly think that these students are products of our rigorous academics and high expectations,” says Principal Karen Love. “But they have come to us with God-given talent and a tremendous work ethic. We just hope that we have nurtured that.”
While at Saint Viator, Caroline has played on the girls’ golf team, performed in the school musical and participated in music ministry. She also returned as a leader to this summer’s Service & Song camp and attended the Viatorian Youth Congress for the second time.
She is currently enrolled in four AP classes as well as multi-variable calculus, the highest math class Saint Viator offers, and she points to this type of challenging classwork that helped her achieve this perfect score.
“All of my classes helped me, but my junior year was particularly challenging,” Caroline says. “They taught me a determination and diligence that I hadn’t had before.”
A common thread through many of her activities is her love of playing the piano, which she does by ear. Caroline can be found accompanying the choir at school liturgies or playing the piano for residents at an Arlington Heights memory care facility, where she regularly volunteers.
Caroline is the oldest of two children of Timothy Lavender and Dr. Nancy Sonego, and she attended Our Lady of the Wayside School in Arlington Heights. Her brother, David, is a sophomore at Saint Viator.
“All of my teachers over the years helped me achieve this,” Caroline says. “They gave me a diverse set of skills—and the confidence—needed to do well on standardized tests.”