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Overtime Victory

Student-athletes who missed commencement have special ceremony

As his classmates crossed the commencement stage at Gillette Stadium on Friday, graduating student Matt Josselyn, ’21, G’23, was triumphing on a different field.   

Matt, a pitcher on the baseball team, picked up a key win in the Bears’ march to a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference championship and spot in the NCAA tournament.  

Though Matt and several other student athletes were unable to participate in the traditional ceremony, Bridgewater State University ensured they still received their moment in the spotlight.   

“It’s pretty special to see that they respect us so much on campus to give us another ceremony,” said Matt, a transfer student who earned a Master of Business Administration degree. “This is a special place for me. I will gladly call it home for the rest of my life.”  

Graduates pose for a photo with BSU administrators and faculty.

Their recognition came Monday in Horace Mann Auditorium, the historic location for Bridgewater commencements. The university honored 10 graduating students on the baseball, softball, and track and field teams who competed in postseason contests that conflicted with commencement.  

Elementary education and psychology major Alison McDonough, ’23, said the ceremony was emblematic of the support she received from BSU as an athlete and student.  

“I’ve had some amazing coaches in my corner,” said Alison, who placed fourth in the 100-meter hurdles at Saturday’s New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association Outdoor Track & Field Championships. “Our athletic department really does care about athletes and wants us to succeed.”  

The ceremony featured much of the pomp their classmates experienced, including a speech from President Frederick W. Clark Jr., ’83, and the coveted opportunity to cross the stage and receive their diploma. The graduates also listened to a video message from someone who knows a lot about success on and off a baseball diamond: Red Sox legend David Ortiz.  

Clark highlighted the competing demands students faced juggling academics, practices and games, family responsibilities, and jobs – all in a world marked by a pandemic that canceled sports seasons and disrupted education.  

“Even in the midst of historic challenges, you kept moving forward, reaching higher with your heads held high,” Clark said.   

Family, friends, and teammates filled the auditorium, creating an electric atmosphere for the graduates.  

“I’ll always remember this ceremony with my teammates,” said sociology major Madison Dana, ’23, a softball catcher whose team reached the conference championship game. “It just creates a great ending.”  

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