CHESTERTOWN, Md. — Michael Festa '14 was recently honored with a President's Volunteer Service Award in recognition of his time volunteering as an assistant baseball coach at his alma mater. The President's Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) is "the premier volunteer awards program, encouraging citizens to live a life of service through presidential gratitude and national recognition."
Festa saw a tweet from Head Baseball Coach Cory Beddick in December 2017 looking for a volunteer assistant coach. He had stayed involved in the sport since his graduation from WC and jumped at the opportunity to join the staff at his alma mater.
Festa resides in Baltimore and works as a financial adviser in Hunt Valley, so his volunteerism goes beyond his time spent at games and practices. With understanding bosses at his day job giving him some schedule flexibility, he has been able to manage the long commutes to the Eastern Shore. He considers that something of an added bonus, stating, "The effort that it takes to be there for the team makes my volunteerism that much more special. I've had the opportunity to coach some amazing players and work with some remarkable coaches … When I'm working on something exciting, with people who are truly engaged, then it makes the countless hours of driving and working seem worth it."
An additional benefit to Festa's volunteering his time to his alma mater has been personal and professional growth. "What I find rewarding about volunteering my time is the fact that I get to develop relationships with our players and coaches," Festa adds. "I've matured a lot over the past few years, and I think coaching baseball has had an important impact on that development. I can use the things I've learned on the baseball diamond to improve my interpersonal connections at work, and vice-versa. The similarities of the coach-player relationship and the financial adviser-client relationship have become evident to me."
Still, it's the connection Festa made to the College as a student-athlete that ultimately draws him back. "I think it's extremely important as an alumnus to give back, whether that's volunteering your time or providing monetary donations. Washington College is a special place. I graduated five years ago, but it feels like it was five minutes ago …The bonds and friendships that I forged with my teammates, both on and off the field, are going to last a lifetime. I still talk to a lot of my teammates regularly and get invited to their weddings now. The number of positive texts and calls that I've gotten from alumni while coaching the past two seasons has been incredible. I think that exemplifies how tight-knit the entire WC Athletics program really is, and how it will continue to be in the future."