Baron Athletics

Athletics Overview–Summer 2024

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Baron Athletics

Athletics Overview–Summer 2024

The latest in Baron sports.

Summer 2024

In This Article

An All-American Legacy

This past January, after his fourth season of playing flyhalf and scrumhalf for the Barons rugby team, Vincent Prezzia ’24 was named a rugby All American.

The ninth child in the Prezzia family, Vincent started playing rugby in high school at Gregory the Great Academy in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where his team won the state championship twice. He enjoyed the sport for both its physical and spiritual aspects.

“Rugby teaches a lot of virtues that are needed to be a Catholic man: discipline, being honest with yourself, working with others to reach goals,” Vincent says.

Vincent Prezzia ’24

Vincent Prezzia ’24

In 2020, he became the sixth sibling in his family to attend Franciscan University, following his sisters, Anna ’10, Maria ’14, Clare ’16, and Rosemary ’22, and his brother, David ’20. As a rugby player majoring in humanities and Catholic culture, Vincent followed in David’s footsteps.

“David was doing the humanities and Catholic culture major when I was in high school, and I saw how much he was learning and growing, and that’s what attracted me to it,” explains Vincent.

Now a seminarian, David was also named an All American in rugby, in 2019.

In fact, being named All American runs in the family. Vincent’s older brother John was an All American for wrestling in the Big 10, and his dad was an All American for wrestling back in the 1970s.

“Rugby teaches a lot of virtues that are needed to be a Catholic man: discipline, being honest with yourself, working with others to reach goals.”

“Playing rugby at Franciscan has done a lot for me as a person,” says Vincent, who served as team captain for the last three years. “Going to the Sweet 16 for Nationals every year I’ve been here has been awesome. And I’ve been able to make friendships that are going to last a lifetime. Having guys on the team who are always chasing virtue, who are people I can really look up to, has inspired me to do the same thing as well. Through the ups and downs, the guys on the team are always there for me, and the support has been just incredible.”

In addition to rugby, Vincent loves golf and played it as a club sport when it was offered at Franciscan. He has also been involved in the chess club, which he says “is a ton of fun,” and in the Veritas Society, a club that holds intellectual debates on campus.

After graduating this spring, Vincent is slated to teach Latin and humanities at a small high school in Kansas, where he will also coach rugby with his older brother John.

Expressing gratitude to his high-school coach, Garrett van Beek, and his college coach, Jason Adams, for their mentorship, Vincent says he is looking forward to his new role as coach.

“I’m really excited to give to the sport that’s given me a lot.”


Baron Club Celebrates Honorees

Franciscan University of Steubenville hosted its annual Baron Club Awards Dinner on April 25, featuring former NFL All-Pro and Super Bowl Champ Matt Birk as keynote speaker.

According to Joe Wallace, Franciscan’s director of Community Relations, the 55th annual dinner saw its highest-level sponsorship support of Franciscan athletics thanks to the University’s strong relationships with the Ohio Valley.

Birk shared inspirational stories and hard-won wisdom from his successful 15-year NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens, emphasizing the role of faith in his life as an athlete. He told attendees sports are not only about helping to prepare young people for life but also should be helping them know Jesus Christ.

“In sports, you find out you can actually push yourself beyond your limits,” said Birk, after sharing stories from his NFL career. “You’re part of something bigger than yourself. Those things are true in sports, and they’re true in our faith. At Franciscan … you want to win … but what you’re also doing is using sports as an extension of your evangelization strategy. You’re keeping college kids in the faith.”

Paul Carapellotti, Matt Birk, Dave Tuttle, and Donald Thorn at the Baron Club Awards Dinner.

Paul Carapellotti, Matt Birk, Dave Tuttle, and Donald Thorn at the Baron Club Awards Dinner.

Joanna Bernabei-McNamee, successful head women’s basketball coach at Boston College, and Tom Timmons, local banker and community benefactor, each received the Father Terence Henry, TOR, Award. In their remarks, Bernabei-McNamee and Timmons emphasized the importance of faith, family, and community as foundations for success and a fulfilling life.

The Kuzma Family Award was presented to the Phillipson family, represented by Todd Phillipson. Todd and his wife, Carol, lost their daughter Cynthia when she was 15 years old. They founded a memorial foundation in her honor that provides scholarships for local students and supports Mary’s Meals, an international charity serving children in poor communities.

Phillipson told attendees one of his daughter’s final social media posts read, “We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever. The goal is to create something that will.”


High Fives

Five Barons earned All-PAC honors in men’s indoor track and field, including First Team recognition for the 4×400 relay team of Dwayne Gethard, Joseph Rohde, John Sicree, and Ryan Ozymy.

The women’s swimming and diving team placed fourth at the PAC Championships, their best finish in a conference championship since 2020.

The women’s indoor track and field team had four athletes earn First Team All-PAC honors. The 4×400 relay team of Clara Symington, Jessica Campbell, Lauren Dosch, and Rebecca Bolster took home gold while setting a PAC Championship record time. Individually, Bolster (400m) and Dosch (800m) won their events as well to earn First Team honors.

Sawyer Butler was named PAC Newcomer of the Year in men’s basketball. He led the Barons with 15 points per game and broke the program record for most steals in a season.

Fifty-eight athletes were named to the PAC Academic Honor Roll for holding a 3.60 GPA or higher.

Student-Athlete Spotlight

Name: Brooke Biagi

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

Major: Business

Sports: Lacrosse and Golf

Team Position: Midfield

Honors:: 4.0 GPA and three-time lacrosse Newcomer of the Week honor roll

Quote: “Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Cor. 16:14)

Career Goal: Medical Sales

Favorite Saint: St. Gianna Molla

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