It wasn't the signing ceremony any of the Bishop Dwenger seniors envisioned: outside the main entrance to Shields Field on a blustery Wednesday afternoon, no coaches or teammates huddled around the table as they signed with college teams.
But Nolan Fischer, a lineman who will be playing football at Wabash, said just having a signing day would've been a pleasant surprise to his younger self.
“It was after I got the starting job to be left guard, especially at a program so prestigious as Dwenger, and how physical the offensive line is and was,” he said. “I grew up in the wake of Joe Tippmann and big offensive linemen like that. Going against him every day really helped me, especially my junior year, and helped me push them and push myself. So after junior year, I knew a I had a strong chance to be a starter. And once schools started looking at me, I knew something was going to happen, and I felt like Wabash was the place.”
Fischer was one of six Saints to sign Wednesday. Alec LeShore and Howie Steele also signed with Wabash football (Steele will also run track), and Brianna Yager signed with Adrian softball. Griffin Eifert signed as a preferred walk-on at Notre Dame, and Jacob Zuber signed to be a student manager for Saint Francis football.
Yager said that if coronavirus-related precautions were not in place, she would have liked to have all of her high school and travel ball coaches on hand to celebrate with her.
“I miss the girls; the bond that I had with the girls was really special to me,” Yager said when discussing the toughest parts of her senior softball season being canceled a year after winning a regional title.
“We had a lot of great stuff happen to us last year, so I was really expecting to go pretty far this year. So that was pretty tough.”
In a way, Eifert will be following in the footsteps of his older brothers, Tyler, who played Notre Dame football before being drafted by the Bengals, and Grady, who thrived as a walk-on for Purdue basketball.
“I'm just excited to experience it and make new relationships and friends, that's probably the biggest thing,” Eifert said. “And just getting back to the football routine and making those football relationships.”
LeShore will have several classmates by his side as he heads to college and found he was comfortable on the small campus, which has an enrollment of just under 900.
“I took a couple visits to other campuses, and they were great, but right when I stepped on the Wabash campus, I knew it was the one,” LeShore said. “The small classes, the great professors. Just a close-knit brotherhood.”
Fischer, who hopes to study electrical or computer engineering, said he and his classmates, both at Bishop Dwenger and across the country, have been exposed to tragedy and adversity throughout their childhoods, and so they understand the importance of resiliency as they head out into the world.
“We were born in the wake of 9/11 and graduate during the coronavirus,” Fischer said. “It shows that even though we're put in the face of adversity, we can push through.”