Baseball team celebrates GNAC championship

Chuck Gibson looked around the room with a look of satisfaction, as if he had just thrown a no-hitter.

“This is a moment I will never forget,” said the Rams star pitcher, who had exchanged the baseball uniform he wore on graduation day for a cap and gown more than a week later. “I’m glad the University gave us this opportunity to be together one more time. It shows that they value who we are and what we’ve done.”

Gibson and seven of his teammates were unable to join the Class of 2017 for their May 21 graduation because they were competing in the NCAA Division III New England regional tournament in Harwich.

Walk-off ceremony

“I thought I would just pick up my degree at school,” said Gibson, who earned a bachelor of science in business administration, magna cum laude.

Scenes from special ceremony for baseball team graduates, cake, Professor Fireman with mace, team members with trophy cups and diplomas

But Suffolk University saw that the eight student-athletes deserved to be recognized like everyone else. So an exclusive commencement ceremony, complete with all the pomp and circumstance, was held on campus May 30 before family, friends, teammates, and members of the University community.

Gibson was delighted with the unusual graduation event.

“I’d rather do it this way,” he said. “It was more personal and celebrated us as a specific group.”

In addition to Gibson, the baseball Class of 2017 included first baseman Kevin Belskie, catcher Matthew Brenner, pitchers Timothy Conroy and Wyatt Stanley, and outfielder Luke Ronchi, all of whom received BSBA degrees, and infielders Sean Cameron and William “BJ” Neil, who received bachelor of science degrees in applied mathematics and public relations, respectively.

Cameron, the Rams’ starting shortstop the past three years, is the first person in his family to graduate college. He said the team graduation was an experience he will always treasure.

“These are the seven closest people in my life, outside of my family, and to share this experience with them was incredible,” he said. “The ceremony had a homey and intimate feeling because everyone in the room knew each other. It was a great way to close out my Suffolk career.”

Proud memories

During her commencement address to the student-athletes, Suffolk Acting President Marisa Kelly congratulated them for their performance in the classroom and on the diamond.

“I hope you are proud, because I know we are proud of you,” said Kelly. “I am confident you will look back over your time as part of this team, recall wonderful memories, and feel the excitement all over again at the experience you had on the field, but off it as well.”

Joining Kelly in the student-athletes’ graduation ceremony were Acting Provost Sebastián Royo, Dean of Students Ann Coyne, Sawyer Business School Dean William O’Neil, College of Arts & Sciences Associate Dean Lisa Celovsky, Professor Gary Fireman, and Registrar Mary Lally.

“Suffolk student-athletes are among the best in the country, and the eight seniors who missed their commencement last week to play in the NCAA tournament showed sportsmanship, teamwork, determination, and love for the University,” said Coyne.

The graduating teammates played a significant role in the success of the Suffolk baseball team while wearing the blue and gold. They played on Rams teams that won the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) championship in three consecutive seasons—2015, 2016 and 2017—and were crowned the Division III New England Baseball Champion in 2014.

“This has been a special group that has accomplished a lot over the past four years,” said Coach Anthony DelPrete, BSBA, ’04, MEd ’08. “I hope the memories that they take from today, being able to accept their degrees together, will rank up there with any championship celebration, big team victory, game-winning hit, or strong pitching performance.”