On April 24, the Steward community — students, alumni, staff, faculty, and friends — donned their blue-and-gold gear and trekked out to the baseball field after school for a varsity baseball game and Alumni Baseball Day. They were also there to surprise Director of Athletics Bruce Secrest, who founded Steward’s baseball program in 2004.
Mr. Secrest thought he was there to coach the varsity team as they played against Penninsula Catholic High School and watch a friendly inning between baseball alumni and current players. What he didn’t know is that the several hundred guests at the event were also there to laud him by naming Family Field in his honor. When the varsity game finished — the Spartans won 10-0! — Assistant Director of Athletics Kara Bacile and Head of School Dan Frank shook hands with Mr. Secrest as the audience, in on the secret, applauded and cheered.
After the naming of the field was announced, Mr. Frank told the crowd, “I can count on one hand the number of people in my life who have inspired me as lastingly, over and over, as Coach Secrest. I am inspired by his dedication to kids and the way that Bruce uses sports as a way to help them develop as humans — their character, leadership, sportsmanship, values, and more.” Mr. Frank continued, “Bruce, we are here today because you have touched our lives, made us better people, helped us when we have been down, and celebrated us when we were on top. You help us to see ourselves as a family.”
Reflecting on the honoree, Ms. Bacile said, “The number of alumni who returned to campus from all across the country for this event speaks volumes about the impact Bruce has had on so many lives. He built this program from the ground up and his name is synonymous with Steward baseball … so to see this project come to fruition and have his legacy cemented in Steward history is very fitting!”
Chuck Wingfield (president of the Spartan Club), Jay Poling (member of Steward’s Board of Trustees), Nic Enright ’15 (Miami Marlins baseball player), and Mr. Secrest’s nephew Cameron Scales ’08 spoke to attendees about a man whose love of baseball is matched only by his love of family. Mr. Secrest's daughters, Brooke Pillow ’05 and Kristen Murray, looked on proudly.
Reached for comment the day after the event, Mr. Secrest said he was humbled by the celebration and was especially thrilled to be reunited with so many former players.
“I feel like I’m one part of a big puzzle,” said Mr. Secrest. “I’m very blessed, being around such wonderful young men and wonderful families.” He added, “The people at Steward are so kind and giving. I am unbelievably honored. I’m grateful, and thankful that I’ll always be remembered at Steward.” Catching up with alumni, he noted, “was like all my children coming back home … my mind was racing with memories of them playing for me.”
View the Steward Snaps from the Family Field celebration.