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Softball wins MAAC; Special Commencement held before team headed to Florida

Michelle Eggink, Assistant Director of Content Marketing & Communications

From left to right: Shea Walsh, Hannah Brock, Sam Freeland, Caroline Baratta, Meghan Davis, Calista Phippen.

May 22, 2023 — It’s been a whirlwind spring for the Marist College softball team, with the program storming their way to the NCAA Regionals. Though, for several members of the team, this time has been bittersweet, as their trip to Florida to begin tournament play meant missing Commencement weekend at Marist and not being able to celebrate graduation with their classmates.

MAAC champions, the team had an outstanding run on the field, but their academic and personal achievements were just as impressive. To honor them, the College delivered a very special personal Commencement event to recognize the six players who were not able to be on the Campus Green on May 19 and 20 for the traditional ceremonies.

After capturing the MAAC title Saturday, May 13, the College quickly began devising a plan to give the team a proper commencement celebration. 72 hours later a special ceremony was held at the historic Cornell Boathouse on Tuesday. The six graduating softball players were: Hannah Brock, Meghan Davis, Sam Freeland, and Shea Walsh, who were each presented with bachelor's degrees; and Calista Phippen and assistant coach Caroline Baratta, who were presented with their master’s degrees.

From left to right: President Weinman, Calista Phippen, Dr. Kodat, Dr. Gatins. Photo by Al Nowak/On Location for Marist College.

The ceremony was an intimate and cheerful gathering for the graduates, who were joined by friends and family members. President Kevin Weinman and Provost and Dean of Faculty Dr. Catherine Gunther Kodat presided over the ceremony, with members of the President’s cabinet, leadership, and staff from Marist Athletics also present to join in the celebration.

President Weinman spoke about each of the players’ athletic and academic accomplishments individually, a unique and important honor since the players couldn’t receive their degrees with other classmates.

From left to right: President Weinman, Dr. Kodat, Shea Walsh, Dr. Slater. Photo by Al Nowak/On Location for Marist College.

“At Marist, we care about each and every one of our students and want all of them to have their moment walking across a stage to be handed their diploma,” said President Weinman. “Sadly we can’t celebrate you alongside your classmates earning their degrees this weekend, but we are all so excited to celebrate you at this ceremony. You are so impressive for what you’ve done in the classroom as well as on the field.”

All six graduates received academic honors during their time on the team, showcasing their hard work both as students and athletes.

After the ceremony, the student-athletes reminisced about the places they got to travel to while on the team, the strong lifelong relationships they formed at Marist, and the experiences they had that helped springboard them to where they will be post-grad.

“My four years as a student-athlete have been an awesome experience that taught me a lot of very valuable characteristics and traits and shaped who I am today,” said Shea Walsh B.S. '23 who will be heading to Nashville, Tennessee for postgraduate studies with the goal of becoming a physical therapist. “Even though it was bittersweet missing graduation I was very appreciative that we were able to graduate with the President, the deans, family, the staff, and the whole team.”

“It was awesome to have a small commencement ceremony to celebrate each and every one of us,” said Calista Phippen B.S. '22, M.S. '23, who already has an IBM job lined up after earning her undergraduate and master’s degree at Marist. “Marist’s financial support and ties with IBM afforded me the opportunity to get a great education and an IBM internship which led to my job post-grad. My time as a student-athlete also taught me special skills, like how to be a captain, how to be assertive, how to make decisions in tough times, and how to work well on a team.” 

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