Keene State holds special graduation for student athletes; With Video
KEENE, N.H. 5/7/12 – Unable to attend Saturday's large formal graduation due to their athletic commitments, 15 Keene State senior student athletes were feted with a smaller, more personable ceremony at the College's Alumni Center on Monday.
The annual event was attended by President Helen-Giles Gee, Provost Emile Netzhammer, Vice President for Student Affairs Andrew Robinson, Vice President for Finance and Planning Jay V. Kahn, Athletic Director John Ratliff, several coaches, and more than 100 family and friends of the graduates.
President Giles-Gee began the ceremony by thanking the graduates. "We are grateful to have this opportunity to honor you for your academic achievements and to acknowledge your athletic accomplishments at Keene State College," she said.
The President also noted that eight of the 15 athletes graduated with honors.
Coaches, representing men's lacrosse, softball, and track and field teams, also spoke. Men's lacrosse coach Mark Theriault, whose team lost a highly contested game in the Little East finals, thanked his seniors for sacrificing their special day on Saturday. "Although the score didn't reflect the greatness of your leadership, your work ethic, your dedication, I know life beyond lacrosse will be exciting and prosperous."
The student athletes appreciated that the College held a special graduating event for them. "I think it's a great idea, because there are athletes who want to compete on commencement day," said Kevin Hoyt, a senior track runner from Newtown, Conn. "I liked that the ceremony was smaller and more personalized."
"For the College to do this it really means a lot," said Chris Mallon, a senior lacrosse player from New Fairfield, Conn., who will be commissioned into the U.S. Marine Corps early next month. "It shows that they really care about the athletic program."
Samantha Pratt from Bristol, Conn., a senior on the KSC softball team, said the event concluded a busy four years for her. "It's awesome to have gone through the past four years with a double major that was supposed to take five years," she said. "I was able to do it in four and still play a sport and hold a job. So it means a lot. It was a lot of work, but I'm real happy I did it."
Many parents were on hand to watch their sons and daughters receive their diplomas. "I think it's wonderful for the parents and for the kids," said Ken Bradford, whose daughter, Katie, plays soccer and softball at the College. "It's the extra effort that we expect from Keene State. It's been an outstanding experience for her and us."
Steve Schairer, whose son Matt was a two-time captain of the Owl men's soccer team, was impressed by the growth of his son during his time at Keene State. "He embraced the leadership that was bestowed upon him," said Steve Schairer. "Being a two-time captain is a lot of responsibility, and he had always shied away from it. But at Keene State, he really wanted to do it. He showed that he could do it, and it was a great thing for me to see."