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Saint Bernard grad heading to Fordham after 7 years of service, dedication

May 21, 2019

Montville — Sam Davis learned early on that failure — even consistent failure, say, seven times out of 10 — could help him succeed.

“Three for 10 is a great batting average. You have failures and you have to learn to get over them,” said Davis on the final day of his senior year at Saint Bernard School, where he’s studied and played a range of sports since middle school after falling in love with baseball at the age of 7. “Baseball is a great parallel to life. It takes constant work if you want to get better. That hard work can be brought into anything ... whether athletics or work or your spiritual life.”

Constant work — and support from friends and family — helped Davis overcome one of his biggest challenges, when in 2017 on the first day of basketball practice, he broke his collarbone.

“I ended up missing the majority of the season, in addition to the fact that I couldn’t play baseball and prepare for the spring season,” said Davis, 18. “Sports were such a huge part of my life, I did not know what to do without them.”

Yet Davis said his time recovering made him better appreciate those closest to him “and understand that there is so much more to my life than sports.”

Now Davis, an outfielder and second-basemen, is warming up for the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference state tournament, his graduation on Friday and, even though he’s a diehard Red Sox fan, heading to the Bronx.

Eyeing a communications degree — perhaps leading to a career in broadcast journalism or sports writing — Davis will attend Fordham University in the fall.

“They have a strong journalism program. We’ll see where that takes me,” he said. “New York City is right there, which is great for internships.”

Davis grew up in Groton and now lives in Niantic. He works part-time at Ocean Beach in New London, and in addition to baseball, basketball and a mix of cross-country and indoor track, he’s a student tutor, a member of National Honors Society and the Silver Cross Society, the leadership arm of the Ambassador Club, which welcomes prospective and new students, dignitaries and visitors to campus.

He’s also served as a leader while on Xaverian Brothers Sponsored Schools retreats in Hartford, sharing stories and taking part in community service alongside students from Catholic schools from throughout the U.S., bringing insight and values back to Saint Bernard.

Davis said his favorite course was history, which he described as “a big story” that could benefit him either in journalism or if he decides to take a crack at law school. Teachers and administrators described him as a positive force for the school, with a consistent smile on his face.

“He always put his best effort into every assignment, really working hard to learn the material in class and understand his progress and how to improve throughout the year,” social studies teacher Jennifer DeLucia said. “He also played an integral part in creating a positive community in the classroom, always encouraging his peers, as well. He has added so much to the spirit of Saint Bernard School.”

Spanish teacher Jose Garaycochea said Davis went from “limited” capabilities with the language to growing “leaps and bounds” and actively tutoring Spanish students while demonstrating “a nuanced understanding of Hispanic culture.”

“Not only is Sam an outstanding student, but he also displays an exceptional strength of character, he has a zeal for service and a love for helping others,” Garaycochea added.

A former clarinet player, Davis hopes to take up guitar and keep in touch with friends, including Burke Niles, who also graduates Friday and will join Davis at Fordham; the pair have been in school together since kindergarten.

Both Davis’ parents and his older brother, Alex, attended Saint Bernard, a tradition that hit him hard in the library on his final day.

“I never would have thought today would have been as impactful as it is, because of everything that’s happened over the last seven years,” he said. “It’s definitely a strong, close community. It’s allowed me to be myself and comfortable with who I am.”

b.kail@theday.com

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