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JSerra Retires Alumnus Austin Hedges' Jersey

JSerra Catholic High School honored San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges ('11) today by retiring his jersey in a ceremony after Mass. JSerra Baseball Head Coach Brett Kay acknowledged Hedges' impact in establishing the highly regarded JSerra Baseball program.

Below is Coach Kay's heartfelt and moving tribute:

"First off, thank you to President Meyer, Principal Stroupe, Vice President of Mission and Faith Pat Reidy, Athletic Director Chris Ledyard, and Vice Prinicipal Donna Vandenberg for allowing me to have this platform to honor one of the best to grace our halls as well as baseball diamond.

"Thank you faculty and staff, fans of JSerra, and you the students for being here to hear this story about one of our own, Austin Hedges. And lastly, thank you to my wife Kristen, my baseball staff, and the people here today in support of Austin.

"I first met Austin Hedges as an 11 year old kid who came to a place I used to work at with his travel team. You could see the talent, the skill set, and all the intangibles at an early age. Luckily, his father Charlie allowed me the opportunity to work with him on catching and all things baseball. We created a bond that still lasts.

"Austin came to us in the Fall 2008 and I knew we had a new piece to this puzzle we call baseball. I knew he would be special. I knew the drive, the instinct that made him special. I started him on JV his freshman year, and that lasted about 4 at bats. He moved to Varsity and had an instant impact. His impact stretched beyond the baseball field. He was a high academic and was lauded for his personality and his character. He embodies what it means to 'be a Lion.'

"There are a couple points, and trust me, there are too many in his high school career. The first, as a freshman I threw him back there as a catcher and he threw out Gerrit Cole by 20 feet. Cole just recently signed with the Yankees for over $300M. His second time, he was having an MVP-type season his sophomore year. We were at Mater Dei, and he led the game with a towering home run off of Ryan McCarthy. The whole Mater Dei stigma was over. We ended up winning the series and our school's first league championship in 2009.

"In his career, he garnered 2 Trinity League MVP's [2009 and 2011] and was All-Orange County for 3 years, as well as an All-American his junior and senior years. He also received the National Defensive Player of the year award from Rawlings his junior and senior year. This goes to the best defensive player in the country. Austin was drafted by the Padres in the second round of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft.

"Austin with the help of others help transcend our program, and is someone who, in my opinion helped build and lay the foundation for what we now call JSerra Baseball and JSerra. He took on a chance on me and our school when we were very, very new. For that, I am eternally grateful to Pam, his mother, and Charlie, his father.

"Austin has always surrounded himself with the highest of quality people. In the seats today are two men who have helped mold Austin to the young man he is today in Joe Demarco and PJ McKaig. Austin is also current godfather to Brody Kay, my son. 'Uncle Austin' is what Brody calls him, and the impact he has on Brody from near and afar is profound. He wants to be him.

"And lastly, students, love does exist here, and it is very real. I had the pleasure, and you can laugh at it now, of introducing Austin to his wife, Maggie Hedges, in our very own Bistro in 2011. Nine years later this past November they were married.

"Austin and the Hedges family continue to do work for Wells of Life, which he has helped fund wells for over 6,000 people in Uganda, who were without water, and is a Wells of Life Ambassador. He continues to serve the community of San Diego, and quite frankly is one of the best young men I know. I am honored to present this to you, Austin

"The banner behind us will now go in left field and no player should wear #11 in our program.

"Please join me in honoring #11 and current Catcher of the SD Padres, Austin Hedges."