Senior Speeches: Connor Bates ’19

November 08, 2018


Each year, seniors at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School deliver a speech to their peers on a topic of their choosing in the Newhall Auditorium. Often equal parts clever and moving, emotional and personal, each speech offers a glimpse into the lives, experiences, struggles, and triumphs of SSM seniors.

Throughout the 2018-19 school year, we will share these speeches with the SSM community and hope that you enjoy the humor, wisdom, and powerful reflections conveyed by our senior students.

During the Summer of 2015, I was all set to attend my public high school that consisted of about 6,000 people. I knew a lot of kids who went there, including my older sister who would be a Junior that year. I had already gone to orientation and was set to play for an academy soccer team with kids I’d been playing with my whole life.

I was spending my last few weeks of summer on Lake Michigan in Grand Haven with my friends and family, when one evening I got an unexpected call from Coach Moullin who was going to be the Head Coach of the new U14 Soccer Team starting that fall. Our call ended up lasting almost two hours, and I was suddenly wondering if Shattuck-St. Mary’s would be the best fit for me. I had done a prospect weekend in February that year and was not completely sure if Shattuck was the place for me. The freezing cold dome and the terrible bathrooms at St. James were what I remembered most. Months later, it seemed an easy decision for me just to stay home and forget about Shattuck. But after Coach Moullin told me all the benefits that Shattuck could offer in the classroom and on the soccer field, I had no idea what to do. I had to second guess my decision to stay at home.

Well, in August of 2015, two weeks before Shattuck started, I changed my mind and decided to attend the school and play for the soccer team. It was extremely tough on my parents, but they let me make the decision, even though they had no idea what to expect or who else was going to be on the team. But they made the transition very easy for me that first year and were very supportive. They have been to almost all of my games since, both home and away, sacrificing their time and money. My parents always said, “If it doesn’t work out, you can just come back home. At least you’d have no regrets for trying.

Despite being a little homesick at first, it was an easier transition than I thought. I was surrounded by great teammates, teachers, and coaches. I felt I had a lot of support to help me adjust. One of the hardest moments was traveling back to Michigan to play my first two games against my former teammates. We lost both games, and afterwards, my old teammates were all asking me why I chose Shattuck, and not the better team. Once again, I had to pause and ask myself if I had made the right decision.

After asking that question, I realized that Shattuck has given me immense opportunities and far better experiences than I would have had if I’d stayed in Michigan. That’s when it hit me that winning on the soccer field is not the only thing that matters.

During my three years at Shattuck, I’ve seen myself grow a lot both in the classroom and on the field. I have been able to become more mature and independent after living away from home these last few years.

Now in my senior year, if that question ever comes up again, I will have no trouble answering it. I am confident in my decision. My time here has flown by, and I have been able to make friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. These experiences have taught me that the easy decisions are not always the right ones, and that you should always take advantage of the opportunities life presents you with.

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