Past scholar-athlete proud to be back home
The area’s most accomplished student athletes gathered at the Kankakee Country Club on Thursday in celebration of the 34th annual Daily Journal Scholar Athletes Awards.
All high school seniors, 10 boys and 10 girls were given the distinct honor of being named a scholar athlete, while a dozen more student athletes were recognized with honorable mentions.
Former scholar athlete Dave Baron, a 2002 Bishop McNamara Catholic High School graduate, delivered the keynote address. Baron, a prep soccer and baseball player, as well as class valedictorian, told students that as a fellow millennial, he understands what lies ahead as they reach college and face more time-consuming schedules.
“We like being multifaceted ... being two or three-sport athletes gives us depth,” Baron said. “What is the accumulation and aggregation of human knowledge and experience if we’re not getting to experience all of it?”
Baron reminded the student athletes to take pride in what they do both on and off the field of competition and noted that sports uniquely allows participants to learn both pride and humility.
“At some point, you will be humbled ... you won’t always be the best player on the team” Baron said. “For me, that came in high school baseball — I went from a pitcher, to shortstop, to first base, to left field, to left out.
“But those players on the bench are just as important as the ones on the field ... when you understand that there is a chance that you may fail and you are still humble enough, confident enough, to give it a shot, you will reach new achievements.”
After his high school days, Baron earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame and a law degree from Harvard University. A practicing attorney, he returned to Kankakee after nearly a decade in Chicago in 2017.
Baron urged Thursday’s honorees to remember perhaps his most important advice more than a decade down the road.
“Plant this seed in the back of your mind and let it lay dormant for the next 10-15 years,” Baron said. “Many of you will go on to college, far away or nearby. Do something different, reinvent yourself with successes and failures ... but remember that this fellow millennial got in front of you and recommended moving back home.”
Baron pointed out that eventually, the big-city living in a place like Chicago or Rio de Janeiro may become too strenuous for life goals such as getting married and coaching your son or daughter when they play sports.
“Neither you will be the same, nor will home be the same,” Baron said. “But the connection will still be there.
After Baron’s address, the student-athletes were presented with their awards. For a comprehensive list of award-winners, see the Weekend Edition of the Daily Journal.