Kennedy High, Manchester to honor memory of Sean Oliver
By: Warren Mayes
Monday (April 30) has been declared Sean Oliver Day in the city of Manchester.
At 4:15 p.m., the Kennedy Celts will play against visiting St. Pius on Sean Oliver Field. The first pitch of the game will be thrown out by Sean’s dad Bryan Oliver.
Kennedy baseball coach Troy Ufert said he is proud of have the game played for Oliver.
“I knew Sean the four years he was at Kennedy,” Ufert said. “He was the manager for the baseball team his senior year. Sean taught us more than we ever taught him. He was fighting for his life everyday but he never slowed down or complained about the cards he was dealt.
“He made us realize that most of our problems were never really that big and that we should cherish life and enjoy the little things that make us happy instead of dwelling on all of the things that we were not happy with.”
Mayor Dave Wilson will be in attendance declaring the proclamation prior to the start of the game. Concessions and donations will benefit both the Kennedy Catholic Sean Oliver Scholarship and leukemia research. T-shirts will be on sale for $10 sporting the proud No. 22.
Kennedy alum Sean Oliver, known as “Mr. JFK,” fought a tough battle with leukemia and passed away just weeks after his 2002 graduation. “Mr. JFK” was the nickname ex-president Chris Bolesta gave Sean, Ufert said
Oliver was a person who loved Kennedy and he lived to make it a better place.
Sean’s education at Kennedy was a priority for him, so he would be prepared to enter the medical field. Oliver looked forward to the day when he would help find a cure for leukemia. Obstacles were not an impediment to Oliver but something to overcome to make himself an even better person.
To preserve Oliver’s memory in the halls of Kennedy, the Oliver family donated the money in Sean’s college fund to establish a scholarship in his honor. The Sean Oliver Scholarship awards $1,000 for one academic year to a rising senior with true Kennedy spirit, academic achievement, and financial need.
“We believe we are better people because of Sean,” Ufert said. “If we all had his work ethic, pride, strength, innocence, and honesty the world would be a better place.”
On Oct. 18, 2002, Oliver’s No. 22 was retired and the field that he loved so much was named in his honor.
“No one has ever been more proud of their Kennedy jersey than No. 22, and we could not be more proud or honored to practice and coach on a field named after the truest Celt of all No. 22 Sean Oliver,” said Ufert.
The number is still around.
“We still have helmet stickers with his No. 22 on them around the coaches office and in my classroom,” Ufert said. “Personally, I have Sean’s No. 22 sticker in my truck and on my bucket that I take fishing. So he goes fishing with me quite a bit when I am away from Kennedy.
“He is one of those rare people you come across in life that makes a mark and you never forget him, what he stood for, or the lessons he taught you.”
The money raised will help both the scholarship program and to help fight the blood disease. Those would both be important to Oliver, Ufert said.
“Sean’s memory will always be alive at Kennedy. The baseball field is named after him and there is a scholarship in his honor,” Ufert said. “It is the 10-year anniversary of his passing. Therefore, it is in the forefront a little more this year.”
The added bonus this year is for Manchester to declare Monday as Sean Oliver Day.
“If anyone deserves a day named after them, it is Sean,” Ufert said. “Sean would be proud, but he would still be more concerned with the baseball team and Kennedy Catholic than he would about his day. That’s just the type of person he was.”
The Celts know about Oliver and his history with the school and baseball program. Ufert does not have to explain it to them.
“Our baseball team knows about Sean,” Ufert said. “We meet after every game in the outfield by his retired jersey that hangs on the fence. Sean is always there with us at every practice and every game.”
This is the first Sean Oliver Day because it is the 10-year anniversary of his untimely passing. The Celts will honor him during the game.
“The players and coaches will be wearing shirts remembering Sean and the ongoing battle we have with leukemia during the pregame warmups,” Ufert said. “All of the shirts have ‘Oliver 22′ on the back. During the game, we will be wearing wristbands with Sean’s No. 22 on it.”
Ufert said he is pleased to see Bryan Oliver attend and throw out the first pitch.
“It is very exciting that Sean’s father Bryan will throw out the first pitch at Monday’s game,” Ufert said. “Sean’s mother and father are still very involved at Kennedy. His mother, Jane, has served on our school board in the recent past.”
Ufert said he is hoping for good weather and a “well-played game” by the Celts against St. Pius.
“Every game is important but this one is special, especially for me,” Ufert said. “I just want Sean (and his family) to be proud of the baseball team and the rest of the school.”