St. John’s Preparatory School honored Pete Frates, the former Boston College baseball player who’s known for his role in launching the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, by naming him as its 2018 distinguished alumnus.
The school also retired Frates’s No. 3 jersey and dedicated its baseball diamond in his name, the school said in a statement Wednesday.
“As I read the Headmaster’s letter that delivered the good news, the tears started to flow,” Frates said in the same statement. “There is no way I could ever express how unbelievably thankful I am.”
Frates graduated from St. John’s Prep in 2003, but the school’s headmaster Edward Hardiman said Frates’s legacy still lingers in the halls of the Danvers high school.
”In the midst of competition, he had a real focused tenacity, but it wasn’t about him,” Hardiman said.
Hardiman said Frates’s coaches and teachers remember him as a dedicated student and a driven athlete, but above all, as a team player who was primarily motivated by his compassion for others.
“What animates Pete is a sense of kindness,” Hardiman said. “He didn’t focus on individual glory, but on the benefit of the team.”
Out of more than 14,000 alumni in the school’s 110-year history, only one receives the distinction per year, and the school had never retired a jersey before Frates’s.
“We are putting Pete in a place of honor to have him serve as a role model,” Hardiman said.
Already, St. John’s students look to Frates as a sort of legend.
As Frates passed through the school on his way from the library to the field for the dedication, “There was a sense of awe that Pete Frates was on campus,” Hardiman said.
Frates was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS and Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2012 at the age of 27, the school said.
Hardiman said he hopes the Frates family’s story, now symbolized at the school by the “Pete Frates ’03 Diamond,” will serve as a reminder to the student body of the importance of resilience in the face of adversity.
“There are many opportunities in our world for heroism,” Hardiman said. “Pete and his family are really role models of what it means to be a hero.”