Gratitude for the journey

In the last home football game of the 2021 campaign, head coach Pat Loughlin honored nine seniors for their effort and dedication to the team. 

“Each of these Falcons has a different story of how they arrived here today, and we are thrilled to be able to hold an event such as this after 18 months of having our school community and world turned upside down,” said Loughlin. “We know how lucky we are to be among each other on this Saturday.”

In gratitude for the support they've received on their Peddie journey, each senior invited family members and one faculty member to join them on the 50-yard line. The players wrote a short note of gratitude to their chosen mentors. The pre-game festivities served as a reminder that football is not just about the Xs and Os or the wins and losses, but about how lives are changed by others.

Senior tributes

Dante Cantalupo (Four-year senior and first-year player)

Coach Loughlin: “Dante’s stoic leadership has brought value to our football program this year, and all of the coaches would like to thank him for his dedication,” said Loughlin.

Faculty mentor: Strength and conditioning coach Mike Volkmar

Cantalupo: “Coach Volkmar is the only faculty member with whom I have had continued contact since freshman year and has made me the person I am now. His coaching style is the perfect blend of giving very important and useful information while also being hands-off to let everyone explore the area of training that interests them. He got me through some tough times and taught me strength, confidence and discipline that has given me a lifelong love of training.”

Jimmy Casey (Postgraduate)

Coach Loughlin: “Jimmy has been a physical presence on Peddie’s defensive line and a favorite target on offense all year.” 

Faculty mentor: Science teacher and coach Jim Harris

Casey: “Coach Harris has a love and passion for the game. He comes to practice every day with an intensity that is unmatched. He is also just as great a classroom teacher as he is a football coach. I have learned so much from Mr. Harris during my short time at Peddie.”

Jordan Diaz (Postgraduate)

Coach Loughlin: “Jordan’s football IQ is apparent, and we wouldn’t be surprised if he got into coaching one day.” 

Faculty mentor: History faculty and dorm supervisor Morgan Spivey

Diaz: “I chose Ms. Spivey because she's always welcoming and makes me feel comfortable and at home. The first week of school, when I met her, she made me feel like I belonged, and she showed a different side of the community that I was used to back home. No matter what type of mood you’re in, her positivity and happiness have strengthened my experience at Peddie.”

Kemit Fisher (Postgraduate)

Coach Loughlin: “Kemit’s energy and enthusiasm for the game and life, in general, is infectious within the Peddie locker room.” 

Faculty mentor: History teacher and dorm supervisor Erik Treese '91

Fisher: “In the short time that I have known Mr. Treese, he has been both a great teacher and dorm advisor. He has allowed me to be my loud and outgoing self in both the dorm and in the classroom. I appreciate his understanding, for this has allowed Peddie to feel just like a home-away-from-home.”

Andre McKinney (Postgraduate)

Coach Loughlin: “Despite a shoulder injury that has him sidelined, Andre has been a mentor for the younger Falcons and brings a positive energy to the Peddie community every day.” 

Faculty mentor: Head athletic trainer Jose Roca

McKinney: “I want to thank Mr. Roca for the constant work that he does for all of the athletes. He provides someone to talk to as an advisor and always does what he feels is necessary to keep us healthy and safe. He has made this year better through trying times, and I’m thankful for having such a genuine, caring person as my advisor.”

Jimmy O’Neill (Four-year senior)

Coach Loughlin: “It’s been a special season for Jimmy, who had his sophomore JV season taken away by injury and junior year stolen by the pandemic. In addition to football, Jimmy also plays lacrosse in the spring and will continue his lacrosse career in college.” 

Faculty mentor: Math teacher David Luo

O'Neill: “I came into math class on the first day of sophomore year, and I met Mr. Luo, who was a young, brand-new teacher out of college. I expected another school year of misery and frustration in math class. Through a combination of humor and investment of time and energy, Mr. Luo truly helped me. My grades improved, but more importantly, he helped me grow as a person and taught me to never assign my value as a person to the number grade on a paper.”

Jake Rothbard (Three-year senior)

Coach Loughlin: “Jake has been a consistent presence at center and provided precise long snaps all year long on our punt and extra point teams. In addition to football, Jake also plays baseball in the spring for the Falcons.” 

Faculty mentor: Math teacher Mark Gartner '84

Rothbard: “As my math teacher and advisor, Mr. Gartner has pushed me to become a better student and enjoys talking with me about baseball and football after class. He was always willing to help me get through tough times and always gave good advice. I thank him for making my Peddie experience better.”

Andrew Stizza (Four-year senior, first-year player)

Coach Loughlin: “The coaching staff was grateful Andrew decided to join the team. He came out mainly to kick but quickly found roles on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball as well. He has kicked three field goals and 17 extra points and also served as the team’s punter.” 

Faculty mentor: History teacher Richard Maley

Stizza: “My dorm experience junior year was much more enjoyable with Mr. Maley on duty. I did my homework early so I could be in the lounge talking with Mr. Maley about what was going on around campus and in my life. Last year was a rough year on campus, and having someone to talk to throughout the year helped more than words can describe, and for that, I say, thank you, Mr. Maley.”

Jaden Wedderburn (Two-year senior)

Coach Loughlin: “Jaden has served his teammates as captain during his senior year and is highly regarded by his peers. He will continue his academic and athletic pursuits at Princeton University next year and hopes to study forensic science.”

Faculty mentor: Math teacher Dr. Kari Hart

Wedderburn: “When I first got to Peddie, I struggled with change. No doubt, math was my biggest struggling point. Through Dr. Hart’s help and patience, she not only helped me get through her AP class but guided me through my entire first year at Peddie. Dr. Hart helped me reorganize and adjust to the Peddie workload and environment, all the while being remote.”