Schools that are a part of the apostolate of the Society of Jesus, for all of their individual traits and characteristics, are universally known for their academic rigor. As a result, Jesuit schools – both secondary and collegiate – are applied to at rates that place them in a range from “selective” to “highly selective.” As a prime example, last year Boston College received over 31,000 applications for fewer than 2,500 spots in the first-year class. Those aren’t the best of odds for any would-be Eagle.
Similarly, at Saint Ignatius we receive many more applications than we have desks (or, more importantly, lockers). In one way this is a good problem to have –too many applicants is much more desirable than too few. But every year during the first week of February those of us on the Admissions Committee are charged with the task of choosing the right students from a pool that exceeds our capacity.
Fortunately, as the admissions game has become more complex so has our response to it. But as I sit around the counseling conference room with a dozen other people I wistfully think back to those halcyon days when I was first involved with choosing the next class of Wildcats.
When then Admissions Director, now President of Walsh Jesuit High School, Karl Ertle ’79 asked Nick Restifo and I to be on the Admissions Committee I did not realize that the three of us would be “The Committee.” As we huddled around Karl’s desk with a mountain of files stacked on the floor beside us I could not have imagined today’s process of selection, one that mirrors – and possibly exceeds – what one might experience in a small college.
And as my mind goes back to those early days several decades ago I can’t help but think of one particular admit who continues to stand out in my mind despite the thousands of files that I’ve read in the past 25 years.
As with all of the boys who we admit, we hoped that his time here would be filled with memorable experiences and that he would go on to achieve great things. Little did we know that this young man would go on to become the first member of the Saint Ignatius Chorus to earn a Super Bowl ring. In the late winter of 2000, as we looked at the file of Brian Hoyer ’04 and saw the very favorable comments of his middle school teachers and his Summer Enrichment counselors, we could never have predicted that this quietly confident eighth grader would be given much of the credit for the Patriots stifling defense in both the AFC Championship game and the Super Bowl.
I don’t know if running the opposition’s offense during the week before a game was what eighth grade Brian had planned on doing, but he has taken to that role in such a way that one of his teammates said, “He deserves a lot of credit for the way our defense has played in big games.” A pretty good newspaper clipping to add to the bulging Brian Hoyer scrapbook.
I did not then, and I do not now, expect to admit someone who will go on to earn a Super Bowl ring. But I do hope that our admitted students will take a lesson from Brian Hoyer and dedicate themselves to be the best that they can be in their chosen fields of endeavor, and especially in their roles as husbands and fathers.
Brian’s example to these eighth graders, and to all who claim to be “Ignatius men forever”, is not in the glamour of Super Bowl Sunday, but in the gritty day-to-day work behind the scenes – work that only a few will see and even fewer will not notice.
I wish the Class of 2023, a class who as-of-this-writing literally does not yet exist, all the best in their time at Saint Ignatius and beyond. Work hard and dedicate yourselves and your talents to what is true and good and beautiful in this world. If you do that, then more than a mere ring awaits you as your reward.