Tom Bestpitch '00 is a hard man to pin down. During his
time at Holy Cross, Bestpitch has been a starting wide receiver,
a starting defensive
back, and a punt returner. He's worn numbers 37, 8 and, finally, 7. Even Bestpitch
himself has trouble with classification, settling for calling
himself "mostly a defensive back."
Appropriate? Actually, yes it is.
Bestpitch began his football career at Holy Cross as a receiver before switching
to defensive back the following year. And, despite earning individual honors
at defensive back last year, he still has figured into the offensive plans in
each of the last two years- thus, the use of the word "mostly."
"For whatever reason, people back home still
think I play receiver," he says. "I don't know why. Maybe it's more glamorous.
But I tell them I'm mostly a defensive back."
The dichotomy began for Bestpitch in high school. While the three-year captain
at St. Francis High School, in Hamburg, N.Y., says his main role on the field
was that of a wide receiver, he also had been selected as the Best Defensive
Back in western New York. When he made his decision to come to Holy Cross, however,
Bestpitch expected to be a wide receiver. That notion did not even last until
lunch on his
"I came here as a receiver," he says. "I knew the things Coach Allen did offensively
with the run and shoot, and I thought
I'd be an inside receiver. But on the first day of practice, I was handed a purple
jersey [worn by defensive players]."
He need not have worried. In keeping with the elusive nature of his role on the
football field, even that decision
was quickly reversed. "I was back to offense by the afternoon practice," he recalls.
It seemed like a wise move by the Crusader coaching staff. Bestpitch, who saw
action in every game of his first season, started seven times. His 19 catches
on the year were the fifth most on the team, as were his 147 receiving yards.
Five times, he had two or more catches in a game, as he looked on his way to
being an integral part of
the Holy Cross offense for the next three years.
"I liked playing receiver," he says. "I got to start seven games and was involved
in the offense."
But the battle for Bestpitch's services was not over. During spring practice
after his first year, Coach Allen and his staff told the then-receiver that his
services were needed on the defensive side of the ball. And despite his preference
for offense, Bestpitch says
he never questioned the move.
"It's nice to be wanted by both sides," he
says, "but as soon as I found out there was a need at cornerback, I said 'yeah
of course I'll do it.'"
And while he does wonder what kind of numbers he could have put up playing just
receiver for four seasons, Bestpitch certainly has no regrets about the position
change. He did, however, suggest
another solution to Coach Allen-one which would allow him to follow in the footsteps
of Gordie Lockbaum '88 and start on both sides of the ball.
"Coach said that he knows I can do it, but
the answer is no," Bestpitch remembers with a laugh.
Focusing on the defensive side of the ball that spring, Bestpitch won the starting
corner spot, and started 11 games in his second season. The transition was a
smooth one as he posted 28 tackles on the year, including four or more in each
of the last four games of the season. Along with the new position came his first
jersey number change,
as he turned in 37 for 8.
"I was assigned number 37 in my first season," he says. "The coaches used to
kid me about it. Coach Swepson said 37 is the number given to the worst receiver
on the team."
Bestpitch wanted number 4, his old high school number, but it was already worn
by fellow defensive back David Downs '99,
so he took number 8. "It seemed like a good number," he says. In answer to the
question, "Why give up number 8 after a successful year?" Bestpitch offers
a unique explanation.
"I changed it because [linebacker] Ben Berger told me that
the number 8 makes me look fat, with all the rounded corners
and everything. He advised me
to get a more pointy number. So I
took number 7. It's really pointy," he said with
As it turns out, Berger may have been on to
something. The newly "pointy" Bestpitch enjoyed a breakout season last year.
Not only did he lead a revitalized Crusader defense, but he led the Patriot League
in pass breakups with 17 and earned both First Team All-Patriot League honors
as well as honorable mention All-America recognition.
"Those awards are nice," he says. "Team goals
are the most important, but it's nice to see that people respect what you do,
and that hard work pays off."
Bestpitch is hoping that while last year was his year to receive individual accolades,
this year will be the time for
the team to be so recognized.
"I have high expectations for the team this
year," he says. "Last year we were so close. I think overall the team, in terms
of attitude and talent, is totally different than it was four years ago. Now
we just need to show it."
As his time in a Crusader uniform winds down,
Bestpitch says, "Even though I know it's my last shot, it's not sinking
in. I've played football for about half of my life, and I don't think I'll really
know it's over for a few years. One thing, though, in training camp this year,
I could look around and say, 'Well at least I won't have to
go through this again.'"
Bestpitch said that as much as he and his teammates were encouraged by the great
strides the team made last year-leading seven of the 11 games at the start of
the fourth quarter-it was still disappointing to take a 2-9 record back home
and have people not acknowledge the improvement.
"People out there see we were 2-9 last year
and say, 'Oh, Holy Cross had another bad year,'" he says. "But they don't know
how close we were. And for us to know it . We've got to show them and get the
respect we deserve this season."
Frank Garand '96 runs, bikes, and swims to benefit
By Phyllis Hanlon
Most people take advantage of the slower pace of summer by reducing their
usual frenzied schedules so they can enjoy the warm, lazy days between Memorial
and Labor Day. Frank Garand '96 is an exception. In July he began an intensive
physical training program that will culminate with his participation in an
ironman triathlon. Instead of engaging in leisurely activities, in the coming
months he will train seriously and strenuously in preparation for this contest
which takes place Nov. 6, 1999 in Panama City Beach, Fla.
Garand's commitment began rather inauspiciously earlier in the year. He casually
mentioned his interest in the event to a professor at Holy Cross. More friends
and colleagues soon learned of
his intentions. "I figured that it was a good way to motivate me initially," Garand
said. "Once enough people knew, I would be forced to compete."
Since Garand has only four months to prepare-the usual training period is at
least two years-he started in July with a three-to-four-hour daily regimen
of lifting weights, strength training, aerobic exercise and swimming. His workouts
take place at the local Bally Total Fitness Center as well as on campus. On
he increases his workload with an extra hour of physical activity. To allow
his muscles to rest and repair, Garand takes Sundays off. As November draws
though, he will increase these
workouts to 10 hours per day.
Garand is monitored closely by Dr. Bruce French, an orthopedic specialist at
UMass Medical Center. Regular routine testing, which can take as long as four
hours, keeps his physician apprised of his physical condition. Individuals who
enter marathons, long bike races, and/or extended swim meets must be hardy enough
to endure the stresses that accompany
each activity. "If a runner can't complete a marathon, he or she can just stop
running. In a triathlon, though, the competitor must be in top physical shape
or risk heart failure," Garand said. Between his intense workouts and close
medical supervision, he expects to be in prime form as November
Over 1,600 entrants are slated to compete in the event which involves a 2.4-mile
swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile marathon run. Garand explains that
entrants swim first to reduce
the risk of drowning. "By the time you finish the bike and the run segments,
you are pretty tired. It would be easy to drown if you had to swim last."
Initially Garand had intended to participate
in the event for the "fun of it," but he changed direction dramatically when
the sibling of a close friend died suddenly. His death, due to a severe allergic
reaction, deeply affected Garand. This young man would have been a first-year
student at Holy Cross in the fall. Garand's fleeting thoughts of raising money
for charity through the triathlon now became a passion.
Garand chose to represent three Massachusetts-based charities. He was impressed
with the efforts of the medical team at Boston
Children's Hospital to save his friend and selected that institution without
hesitation. Since Garand's family has a history of breast cancer, he decided
that some of the contributions should be given to the UMass Cancer Center for
research. The Massachusetts Audubon Society will also receive a portion
of the funds. His hopes to collect $25,000 exceeded all expectations early
in the campaign. By the time the event takes place, Garand anticipates that
times that amount will be pledged.
So far Garand has solicited support from approximately 40 area businesses. The
overwhelmingly positive response has amazed him. "Everyone has been great. No
one has said no." In fact, individuals and companies that hear of the event have
approached him to offer assistance, both financial and otherwise. A local hairdresser
provides regular haircuts for Garand, while a Webster Square sandwich shop contributes
food. A local
bicycle shop services Garand's bike and gives suggestions for the biking portion
of the competition. Several of the sponsors also offer customer discounts to
those who mention the event.
Garand is the Mellon Educational Technology Program coordinator at Holy Cross
and co-teaches a class that demonstrates
the "ins and outs of Web design." The class includes Web authoring and design
principles. Using his technological expertise, he has created a Web site as
a primary fund-raising tool for the triathlon. The site will feature all the
that have sponsored Garand, as well as additional information regarding the
triathlon. Viewers will be informed of his fund-raising
and training efforts as they occur.
His students have caught Garand's fever and have volunteered many hours to work
on the site, often staying late into
the night. "This is a great opportunity for them to get their names on the Web
site. Many of these students are fourth-year and this experience could very well
lead to jobs for them." Garand expects to achieve upwards of 10,000 hits per
week once the site is fully functional.
As soon as Garand has completed the Florida ironman competition, he plans to
initiate a triathlon club at the College. "This club would be in on the ground
floor when triathlons become an NCAA
sport," he said. He senses an affinity for health and fitness at the school and
has mentioned his thoughts to some of the students. Response has been
tremendous. "Already 20 students are interested in joining," he said. "The students
would not compete during the school year. They would concentrate on sprint distances
instead," he explained.
What began as a personal physical challenge for one man has grown into a community-wide
philanthropic project. Garand's motivation has increased with each donation he
has received. Personal accomplishment is no longer the main focus. Naturally
he is anxious to fare well in the
contest- "I will be happy if I can finish in less than 12 hours"-but he is
more concerned with helping local charities continue research into areas that
eventually help all of mankind.