Now that his days at American Studies are behind him, Casey Press has a lot of free time on his hands. That is when he’s not playing summer baseball with his New Jersey Angels team.
So when his parents were packing for a trip to England recently, Press thought for sure he’d be along for the ride and it wouldn’t be long before he was taking selfies with Big Ben.
“But I didn’t get the invite for that,” Press said, laughing.
No worries, Press will pack his own bags soon enough. After a brilliant four-year run with the Senators baseball team — where he played the dual role of pitcher and center fielder — Press is off to the University of Rochester to continue his education, as well as his career on the baseball diamond.
But first he looks back one final time on his days at American Studies.
“I’m just going to miss the community,” Press said. “It’s an awesome place to be. Obviously it’s tiny, it’s one hallway long, and you know everyone in the school by December of your freshman year. It was just a special place to go to high school.”
It was not an easy four years, however. There was the heavy course workload Press had to balance with four seasons of baseball. That made for some very long days at school. Despite it all, Press said his time at American Studies went by in a flash.
“I really think it did,” he said. “I didn’t really expect that to happen going into it because, it’s a great high school, but there is a lot of work every day, and you’re up late every night doing homework. Plus you’re also staying late after school for practices and games.”
That means a 6:30 a.m., start time for winter preseason practice when it’s 10 degrees outside. “But honestly I had a great time.”
One of Press’s fondest memories came in his freshman season when a senior-dominated team took the newbies under their wing and taught them “The American Studies Way.”
“I have to say I loved how the seniors kind of brought us into their family, their baseball family,” Press said. “That meant a lot because we had seven senior starters in my freshman year. They taught us a lot.”
Three years later, it was Press and his fellow seniors who carried on that tradition with teammates Ari Wigder and Jack Friedman.
“Ari, Jack and I remembered what the seniors did for us in freshman year and we tried to do the same thing this year,” Press said. “So it was definitely a special season for us.”
For the next few weeks, Press will split his time between his Angels games and hanging out with friends before college beckons in late August.
“I’m planning on having a great summer with all my friends before we all leave, so I’m really looking forward to that,” Press said. “But I’m extremely excited for the fall.”
Press will join a Rochester Yellowjackets baseball program that is coming off perhaps its most successful season.
“They won the Liberty League title this past year, but they also — for the first time — won the Liberty League Tournament at the end of the season,” Press said, adding the team also made its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
Being part of the baseball program also has its perks for incoming freshman — an instant group of new friends to help make the transition from a tiny high school to college a little easier.
“I’ll have my own community from the second I walk on campus because I have the baseball team,” Press said. “When I visited back in the fall, they told me the first night there the team pulls you out of orientation and you just go and hang out with all the guys on the team. So that’s pretty awesome. The first night there I’ll already meet everyone.”
Press chose Rochester because of its “fantastic business school” and because the baseball program “wanted me.” But if there’s one drawback, it’s that he won’t be seeing Wigder, his best friend and former Senators teammate, on a regular basis anymore. Wigder heads to Los Angeles for school.
But Press has a plan.
“After spending four years with him every day from January to June after school with baseball, it’s definitely going to be weird not going to school with him anymore,” Press said. “But I cannot wait to visit him in L.A. for some warm weather.
“Rochester can get a little cold so I’m looking forward to that.”