Thank you for that very kind and thoughtful introduction.
It is truly an honor to be here this morning as we celebrate the tremendous heritage of Hobart College.
Before I begin, I would like to revisit my past. When I reflect back to 4 years ago, before attending Hobart, I see a very passionate, dedicated, and committed individual. However, I did not extend much outside the world of athletics - that was my comfort zone - where I truly showed my confidence. I was not a bad student in the classroom, but I never really did much to excel - I basically just met my requirements - never went the extra mile. When it came time to choose a college, I placed a lot emphasis on football. Right before I made my final choice to attend Hobart, my father asked me, "Anthony, would Hobart still be your choice, even if football was not in the equation?" I was speechless - the thought of my life without football never really crossed my mind. It was in that moment that I realized, when I got to college, I needed to excel in not only football, but academics as well. I needed to broaden my identity - no longer could I just let athletics define me. I needed to become academic, and ultimately, develop from a boy into a young man.
I can stand here proudly today and say I was able to accomplish that goal, but, it wouldn’t have been possible without help and support of many people. First and foremost my parents - Richard and Maryellen Hobaica - they are the greatest, most supportive parents in the entire world and I would not be who I am without the foundation that they provided me with (I love you both very much). Next, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Dean Baer, Dean Capraro, and Dean Mapstone - thank you all for supplying me with wisdom and guidance throughout all of my endeavors here at the Colleges, especially when I needed it the most. I would like to thank Professor's Laura Free, Susan Hess, Pat Collins, and (Dean) Cerri Banks - all of whom, not only took a chance, but made a tremendous investment in my academic development. Each of these professors played an intricate role in my growth as a critical thinker, writer, and my overall analytical skills - I really don't know how I can repay them for these priceless gifts. I'd also like to thank Hobart Athletic Director Mike Hanna and Head Football Coach Mike Cragg - both of which have played a major role in, not only my athletic growth, but my development as a young man - I have become a young man with a vision - They both have been more like second father's to from the day I stepped on campus - I stand just a little bit taller today because of these two gentlemen (well, not that much taller). And last but certainly not least, my mentor, and one of the major reasons I chose Hobart - Assistant Football Coach Kevin DeWall. I did not know these Colleges even existed until Coach DeWall began recruiting me to play football and insisted I come visit the school. He has been in my corner regardless if the sun is shining or raining cats and dogs - without him, Hobart simply does not exist for Anthony Hobaica. I can honestly say, he is one of my best friends, and I will forever cherish him.
It still feels like it was yesterday; the journey began on a humid, August day when my parents dropped me off at Bristol Field House for my first preseason football camp. To be honest, like many other incoming first-years, I was full of expectation - I was in a new environment, surrounded by many new people - it was a new beginning for me in some senses, a clean slate. I really felt like I had something to prove - especially to myself—that I belonged at an institution as prestigious and rich in tradition as Hobart College. I really wanted to experience everything that Hobart had to offer; so that's exactly what I did—in my first year, I enrolled in an improv-dance class, took a writing seminar, attended the student government meetings - all of which I took to pretty quickly, and helped me realize a lot about my identity. I started to realize new strengths, and learn how to get past some of my previous limitations.
Moving along, sophomore year, I kind of hit a road block - I was struggling with some injuries which were directly impacting my football performance and I was beginning to lose sight of my goals. I thought back to a speech Dean Mapstone gave earlier in the semester at the Matriculation dinner about what being a Hobart Statesman is all about. He quoted our mission: "A men's college working in coordination with our sisters at William Smith to produce men that are attuned (to issues of difference) global (in their experience and perspective) deliberate (in their use of multiple perspectives to solve complex problems) committed (to lifelong participation as a global citizen) confident (in who they are and what is just) thoughtful (about how best to lead) and determined (to be men of character and integrity)." What I took from this was actually quite simple; be true to who you are, regardless of the curveballs life sometimes throws you. I realized I needed to keep taking chances and seize opportunities as they come along. I needed to start developing myself by this mission; I needed to become a true STATESMAN.
I truly came into my own however in my junior year, but for reasons most would not expect. By this point, I was doing well in the teacher-certification program, I was the class president, a distinguished member of my fraternity - serving as the house secretary and Inter-Fraternal Council President, a member of the Chimera Honor Society, but it took something else for me to really understand what I was all about. On September 8th, 2007 the football team and I took a trip to Carlisle, PA for a contest against Dickinson College. To make a long story short, I fumbled the ball late in the 4th quarter which led to us losing the game. To this day, none of my coaches or teammates will ever say I was the reason we lost that game - they did not have to. I put that weight on my own shoulders. I let everyone down - my teammates, my coaches, and myself. It was without-a-doubt the worst feeling I have ever experienced. I learned more from that loss than any athletic victory. There is a quote hanging in our locker room that reads "Failure is not what happens when you get knocked down, it's what happens when you don't get back up," and I finally realized what that meant. I leaned again on what it means to be a Statesmen - what kind of character did I really have? How would I respond? I needed to seize the opportunity and "get back up" because that's what Statesmen do.
Senior year was here before I knew it. Academically I was in a great place - I was accepted into the Education Master program here at HWS, so I was ecstatic that I was going to be staying for another year. Football was also going extremely well; I was having a great senior season. However to my dismay, I hit one more bump in the road. Week 7 of the season, we were playing Wooster Poly-tech Institute (WPI) at home. With 10 minutes and 15 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter, my good friend and fellow senior, Matt Duliba got hit, and suffered a career-ending knee injury. On the very next play, with 9 minutes and 54 seconds left, I was running the ball and my left knee was also taken out. I tore pretty much every major ligament in my knee, and needed reconstructive surgery. My playing days at Hobart were officially brought to an end. I was lost - I was not mentally prepared because I didn't think that my career would end so suddenly. But here I was, knocked off my high horse once again. I did a lot of soul searching, and realized that it just wouldn't be my style to stay knocked down - and there it was when I needed it most - the mission statement of a Hobart Statesman - character, commitment, determination - echoed over and over. So, I did all I knew, kept pushing through all the adversity. I finished the year on the sideline, coaching my understudy, and being the best towel-boy I could for my teammates. Sure it was humbling, but that's what Statesmen do.
So here I AM, just weeks away from commencement. As I began preparing for this speech, I started by reflecting on my time here. There is no doubt that I received a top-notch education from this institution, but I began to question my legacy - have I truly left a mark? Hobart has been so much more than school to me - it has in fact been my home. Even thru all of my work, have I repaid it? I quickly realized, the answer to that is also in that definition of a Statesman - attuned, deliberate, committed - these qualities make a Hobart man, and, are ultimately what all Hobart MEN work on in our time here.
So, I challenge each and every one of you who is present this morning - regardless if you are an underclassman, a senior about to embark on new endeavors, or even if you are not a Hobart student at all, to lead your life the "Hobart Way." Be attuned to the world in which we live in and all of its issues; be global in the sense that everyone comes from a different walk of life - respect that, learn from others and their experiences; be deliberate - regardless of the task at hand, think critically and examine outside the box; commit yourself - regardless of where life takes you, find your niche and excel at it; we only get one chance at life, don't waste it being average. Be confident - know who you are; be able to look in the mirror and like what you see. Be thoughtful, whether it be in the classroom, on your athletic teams, with your families, in your community, or in your place of employment - think about what you can offer someone else, and not always about what benefits you can reap. I promise you, there is a lot more satisfaction at the end of the day. And last but not least, be determined - live your life honestly and ALWAYS with a purpose.
In closing, people sometimes ask me what I would change about my experience at Hobart or what I would have done differently. I can honestly answer by saying, "Absolutely Nothing!" Regardless of any of the set backs, I would do it 1000 times over - My experience is MINE; It has shaped who I am, and who I am going to be. I will cherish this place for the rest of my life because I did it the Hobart Way.
-Hip Hobart Forever.
Charter Day 2009
Anthony Hobaica '09
April 18, 2009