When 2014 Shaker High School graduate Ben Cassillo left home for his freshman year of college at the University of Virginia, he had seemingly put baseball to rest. Cassillo had completed his senior year at Shaker as the captain of the baseball team, and was headed to Virginia to continue his education. When he returned in January 2015 for his second semester, Cassillo says he was convinced by one of his friends to join the club team. Three weeks later, he received a call from the head coach of the university’s baseball team, resulting in an unexpected journey.
“Coach O’Connor and his staff laid out how desperate they were for another catcher,” said Cassillo. “I had a one week try out practice and was invited to join the team. From there, the rest of it took care of itself.”
The University of Virginia baseball team went on to play an incredible 2015 season, winning the Division I College Baseball World Series, a national championship title that Cassillo got to share in.
“It’s absolutely surreal,” he said. “The words grateful and blessed come to mind to describe the whole situation, from the coaching staff, to my teammates. To be able to say not only did I accomplish a goal of being able to play Division I baseball, but now to call myself a national champion? Words aren’t able to describe it.”
“We had a huge amount of loss in our family this year,” added Cassillo’s mother, Karrie.
I lost my mom, and my husband lost his mom. To follow-up those losses with such a great experience for our family was very special in more ways than one, and brought us such joy.”
Cassillo, who returns to school on August 13, says he will always look back fondly on his Shaker experience, attributing his successes to the foundation he says the district gave him.
“The whole administration and faculty just prepares students so well for life beyond high school, whether it’s college or your career. And that’s not just from me. All of my friends, we all talk about how when we went off to college, how we were ready for the classes, being away from home, and all of the different challenges that may come with life after high school. We were prepared thanks to some great people here at Shaker.”