Note: This is Nick Modico’s speech from his Nov. 1, 2013, induction into the Athletic Hall of Fame. These are Nick’s words, unedited and as he delivered them. Photos from the ceremony, taken by Mr. Jacob Bergmeier, are below.
Before I start with what is, I’m sure, my much anticipated acceptance speech of sorts, I must thank everyone involved – my parents, friends and teammates, Kennedy Catholic and of course, Coach Fletcher – for making this possible.
After my last game at Kennedy, at our end-of-season baseball dinner, I said a quick word to thank Coach for the past 4 years of playing for him both interscholastically and as a member of the Taconic Rangers. There, hopefully some may remember, I thanked Coach for being three invaluable things to us: a teacher, a coach and most importantly, a friend. Nothing has changed – he is an excellent human who kept in touch with us over the years and continues to help us out to this day in any way he can- because he cares. This is something that I shall never forget and will always be grateful for.
For all else here, although no one will ever wear my number 37 again, this retirement ceremony is not about me at all; it’s about you. I’m merely a person, molded by those who I’ve surrounded myself with – an entity created by most importantly my parents, my family, my friends and my teammates. Athletically speaking, or maybe not so athletically speaking as a pitcher, my success was dependant on the success of the defense that surrounded me, I would’ve never achieved alone what we achieved as a team, and this is undeniable. That’s why the picture in front of the New York State Champions plaque is of the team, after all.
Mom and Dad, thank you so much for the support over all the years of baseball. Especially through the tough times, which weren’t always easy to navigate, we found a way to really enjoy our lives throughout my childhood through baseball. Trips all over the country made for memorable experiences with incredibly interesting characters along the way. I’ll never be able to thank you enough.
Though I never planned on pursing baseball in college despite the success we achieved here at Kennedy, it was of course, a huge part of my life. But after high school was to be a bigger, more meaningful experience – I’d pursue my degree in finance, while picking up a marketing minor along the way, and would carve some kind of path for myself in the business world. However, about halfway through pursuing my degree at Boston College I began to question everything I was doing. Finance seemed so meaningless, almost a necessary evil. Was I really helping anyone? Would I be helping the world grow? What would be my real purpose if I continued on the path to become a wealth manager? The spin I ended up putting on it went something along the lines of “Well, I’ll be providing the financial planning for others to live out their dreams of travel, or sending their children to the school of their dreams, or even something as simple as home ownership.”
You can ask all my college buddies how hard I worked to pursue that career. They’ll respond with a good laugh and then proceed to tell you, collectively, they can count on one hand how many times I went to the library. I was never totally sold. I clearly had a different set of priorities: no, I didn’t get bad grades but working my tail off to get even better grades and attain that top spot job wasn’t in the cards for me. Those grades were going to maybe determine my first job and that’s about it. Throughout the time I had with others at BC, I preached living and enjoying yourself, responsibly of course. You always hear about lives tragically ending too soon one way or another, yet for some reason it rarely wakes you up and tells you “jeez, maybe I need to reprioritize”. I’d like to believe I had my priorities straight…now it certainly appears so.
When I was diagnosed last November, I really didn’t feel too badly about the news. I was in incredible amounts of pain, knew something had to be wrong, and was glad they finally found out what. Many of you are probably thinking this kid’s messed up, man – glad they diagnosed him with cancer. In a way, yeah, that’s pretty whacky. But never once did I live my life in any other way than enjoying myself through the means I had available to me. Sure I’ve been lucky in that regard. As a result, I’ve done a ton of things and was always overly happy about things in my life; some may say I’ll leave with no regrets. Thinking about all of this over the past year, through treatments and physical struggle, it finally came to me. I realized that my purpose in this life is to infect those I’ve surrounded myself with with the same lust for life that I’ve always had – a far cry from finance. So it is with this realization I come to you, and I ask you to think about your life right now. Think about your world, your aspirations, where you’re going. Are you truly living? Are you happy and enjoying yourself every day? Now, don’t sweat the small stuff, think big picture. What are you going to do in this world? How are you going to change it or leave your mark? What will your legacy be?
Legacies aren’t just for those who achieved incredible thing; legacies can be an essay you wrote, a charitable cause you championed, even something as simple yet complex as a child. I think the last one is really interesting – more often than not, you are your parents’ legacy. Never forget, who you are and how you act is a direct reflection on your parents and how they raised you. Make them proud.
I encourage you to think about what you want to be remembered for when your time eventually comes, and I hope it’s not for a while so you can go out and make it happen. Dream big, work efficiently, and achieve it. When the kind people here hang up this jersey, wherever it may be – in the bathroom, a random closet, wherever – I hope that you see that 37 and think of this, what I hope to be my legacy: yeah sure, that was a kid who could play a little baseball, but more importantly, damn, that was a happy kid that lived and showed others what it was to live. Thank you everyone.