The Dogwood Room in the John A. Barone Campus Center was filled to capacity, as athletes, Stags fans, Fairfield University faculty and students piled in to welcome the newly appointed 13th head coach of Fairfield men’s basketball, Jay Young on April 10.
Amid a busy Wednesday morning with regularly scheduled classes, Fairfield came together in masses to show support for Young and express their excitement for the basketball program with him at the helm. Guests entered the introduction ceremony through a path lined by pop-pom wielding cheerleaders donned in red and white.
First-year Haley Liddy of the Fairfield cheer team spoke on behalf of her teammates in an email, “My team and I are so incredibly excited about the hiring of Coach Young. From the welcome celebration, the experience and passion Coach Young has for the team is clear. We cannot wait for the upcoming season under his coaching.”
Guests were offered foam fingers and their own clusters of streamers. These efforts were meant to instill a sense of pride in our school through athletics, which have unfortunately fallen short in the past due to shortcomings on the court following a 9-22 season. The change in leadership represents a new, hopeful chapter for fans.
The audience hushed as President Mark R. Nemec Ph.D., took the stage. Excitement glimmered in his eyes as he looked into the electrified sea of people. President Nemec first addressed the vast forward-movement that the university has made as of late. He mentioned that the application pool for the fall semester of 2019 was the largest in school history, and that many facets of Fairfield are progressing collectively. This further emphasizes the magnitude of the decision President Nemec was tasked to make with naming a new leader for Fairfield men’s basketball.
As the University founded by the jesuits, great consideration is taken towards creating a campus and a community that lives by its inclusive core values. Some of which include the unity of mind and heart, men and women for others and contemplatives in action.
“The fact that we were able to hire someone who could both speak to and embody the characteristics that make us the modern Jesuit Catholic university is one of the things that makes me so excited,” said Nemec.
Nemec exuded confidence in the coach, expressing his satisfaction with Young’s character in conjunction with his abilities on the court. Next, the spotlight was handed over to Fairfield’s director of athletics, Paul Schlickmann, who celebrates his two year anniversary at Fairfield in September.
“What I see in Jay is someone who has pursued his dream with impeccable character, a relentless commitment to excellence, a love for and loyalty to his players, and an unwavering belief that at some point his number would be called.”
Young’s experience of more than 30 years ranges from head coaching positions at Newbury College and the University of New Haven, as well as acting as the associate head coach at Stony Brook University and most recently an assistant coach at Rutgers University. He described his journey up to this point, and explained that his new role is what he had worked so hard for.
“My message is there’s going to be adversity in life, things are not going to go your way all the time, but if you just keep grinding- keep persevering, eventually someone’s going to give you the call like I had.”
Such inspirational words can be applied to individuals of any walk of life, as his memorandum is a testament to the power of persistence and diligence.
He concluded with these remarks; “There is a saying that states that we don’t get what we wish for, we get what we work for, and for me and our players, that work starts now.”