Editor’s note: The following is a transcript of a speech written by Xaverian Senior Michael Muir. The speech was delivered during the annual St. Francis Xavier Society Appreciation Dinner. Michael is a multi-sport athlete, and a frequent participant in Campus Ministry programs.
In 2007, I was a very happy 8th grader at Sacred Heart Intermediate School in Kingston, MA. My brother was entering his senior year at Sacred Heart and our family was very active in all aspects of the Sacred Heart community for a long time.
I found out about Xaverian at our family gatherings. My cousin, Peter Gaynor, class of ‘87 would talk about his years as a student at Xaverian. Christopher DeBrase, who graduated a year ahead of me at Sacred Heart was also a freshman at Xaverian; so I signed up for Hawk for a Day where I was able to spend a day shadowing my friend Chris. I still remember what a wonderful day I had – the students were so welcoming, the classes were dynamic, and I was excited when I left.
At Sacred Heart, I played junior varsity basketball as an eighth grade student. The varsity basketball coach at Sacred Heart promised me that if I stayed, I would be a starter for their program as a freshman and that he would even try to get me a girlfriend! He teased me that Xaverian could not help me in that area. He was right about that, although I have met many nice girls at Xaverian dances, but I’m just not ready for a girlfriend now! With a heavy heart, I made the difficult decision to leave the safety and security of Sacred Heart to follow my own path to Xaverian.
I have gained a whole new family and developed a strong sense of what is means to be a part of a brotherhood – showing respect for others, helping those in need, and making a difference in others’ lives.
Throughout freshman year, I carpooled with four boys from Bridgewater and one from Middleboro. Our commute averaged anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour or even more depending on traffic. Our parents quickly learned that we relished that time to nap or listen to music or finish last minute homework and that idle chit chat was not a priority in the morning. I can remember I was worried about balancing schoolwork and my after school activities, but I knew I wanted to be involved in the school.
My classmates and I have been blessed with many academic opportunities. We are encouraged to seek out new knowledge and skills and try things we have not done before. We are given the support to learn and explore. Faculty and staff here go beyond their work requirements every day – staying after to help students with their work coaching or helping with a club or other activity. For example, I first had the chance to meet and work with Mr. Christopher Vasta, our new Dean of Students in my freshman year. He coached my freshman football team, encouraged me to become involved in campus ministry activities, and has been an excellent role model for me and my classmates.
Sophomore year was a bit of a challenge. The company that my father worked for filed bankruptcy and closed its doors. During this difficult economic time, the school awarded me a financial aid grant. I would like to personally thank you for your financial support.
Work-study was a new adventure for me as I worked in the administrative office every day answering the telephone and helping out in the office. It gave me a chance to get to know the administration in a different way. Mr. Lalli didn’t seem as big to me as he did freshman year, Brother Dan only yelled at me a few times and I also paid much more attention to the length of my hair that year for Dr. Crowley.
Xaverian has encouraged me to explore my own faith and to reach out to others in need through our Campus Ministry Programs. This past summer I attended XLI (which is the senior leadership institute held at Stonehill College) with 150 other seniors. It was one of the best experiences of my life because it helped me to see how my family, friends and school have been so important in my development.
In addition to academics and campus ministry, Xaverian has an outstanding athletic program led by Mr. Charles Stevenson, another staff member whom I admire. He has assembled an amazing group of coaches not only for football but also for other sports who inspire us Hawks to do the best we can whether it’s on a field, in a rink, on a track, on a mat, or on a court. Athletics have always been an important part of my life. This year I am playing varsity football and hope to continue to play basketball and baseball. I had an incredible junior year starting with the football program where I played wide receiver and safety. We played one of the toughest schedules in the state with only 4 home games, beating such powerhouses as Brockton, Everett, and St. John’s Prep. As a player, I cannot tell you how exciting it was to play at Gillette Stadium with the snow falling all around us, on the same field as the New England Patriots, watching my teammates celebrate and make snow angels after our win. Along with my Super Bowl ring, it will be a memory I cherish and share with my teammates for a lifetime.
I had one day off between the Superbowl win and tryouts for our varsity basketball team with our new Coach Salazar. His preparation and coaching along with our team’s hard work earned us a spot in the first round of the state playoffs, for the first time in many years.
Finally, a few months later, the Hawks’ baseball team under Coach Lambert, an underdog with a 10-10 record, played in the state finals against Amherst-Pelham in the Lowell Spinners stadium against a pitcher who was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks and threw 94 miles per hour. This game conflicted with my commitment to the pilgrimage to Italy, but with Mr. Vasta’s encouragement, I flew by myself from Boston to Italy to catch up with my schoolmates the day after the state finals in baseball. It was a great way to end an amazing junior year – between academics, campus ministry, and athletics!
I think my junior year exemplifies the true spirit and the embodiment of the values that are so much a part of Xaverian.
One of those is Humility – Through our work in the community and our involvement in sports, we are taught about what it means to be humble. To us that means you use the gifts God has given you. This past weekend, we played Brockton in a football game that went into double overtime. After a hard fought win, we were very excited, but humble and our fans lined up after the game and applauded both the BHS Boxer football team and their marching band.
Another value is Leadership – the members of the Class of 2010 football and baseball teams demonstrated to the underclassmen what it takes to play on a championship team: that is commitment, support for your teammates during good times and bad, listening to your coaches to become better players, and mentoring the underclassmen for the benefit of the team. Finally, compassion. Compassion is important to us because we are called by our faith to serve others and make a difference both in our community and beyond.