Remembering a Legend: Mr. Vespole ‘09 Memorial

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Grant Parker

The Gray Bees played hard at a water polo tournament Saturday honoring the late teacher and coach, Mr. Spencer Vespole ’09

A coach, a partner, a son, a friend. All of these and more describe Spencer Vespole ‘09, a beloved SBP teacher and water polo coach who the community lost to a battle with cancer in 2019. To honor his memory and legacy, St. Benedict’s Prep hosted a water polo tournament Saturday. The event was an opportunity where both alumni and students came together to honor the memory of their SBP brother.

Dr. Glenn Cassidy ’90, Mr. Vespole’s former water polo coach, gave a brief overview of Mr. Vespole’s career at Benedict’s, including aspects of his unique personality. Speaking afterward, Dr. Cassidy said: “Mr. Vespole was a person who was always himself and didn’t care about what was cool and popular at the time. He once bet Mr. Owusu that he could run 2 miles in 15 minutes. During Gray Bee Olympics, he did it.”

In an interview, SBP Coach Jose Cruz reminisced on when he met Mr. Vespole in public, “We were at a Devils game, and I turned around and he was behind me! We just started talking about life, our family, our partners. It made me realize just how interesting a man he was.”  

The SBP Water Polo Team breaks out the huddle Saturday. (Fernanda Somohano Ortega)

Students loved him. One of the captains of the water polo team, Fernando Duran SY, said his fondest memory of Mr. Vespole is when he told the team to not take the stairs. When they asked why he replied, ¨You guys know Kung Fu Panda? I´m like Po, stairs are my weakness.”

The first game was between SBP and The Pingry School of Basking Ridge. It was an intense game, and both teams tried their hardest. But SBP could not find a way past Pingry’s vigorous defense, and the first half ended with a score of 0-8 in Pingry’s favor. During the second half, SBP fired back, scoring six points in just four minutes. Pingry fired back with two points of their own, making the score 6-10. And when the dust settled and the final whistle blew, Pingry emerged victorious, winning 10-6.

 “We played really well in the second half,” Coach Cruz said. “But water polo is a 28-minute game, not 7 minutes.”

 The final game was between SBP and Germantown Academy of Fort Washington, Pa. SBP started with a bang, scoring a point within the first minute, with Germantown quickly responding with a goal of its own. As the game went on, SBP began to fall behind. In the second quarter, Germantown overwhelmed SBP, ending the first half with a score of  3-10 in Germantown’s favor.

 Players on both sides exhibited great energy in the second half, with SBP students cheering on their teammates with the school fight song “Garnet and Gray.” Both teams gave it their all, facing down each other intensively, neither letting up even a bit. As the game progressed, the point deficit kept increasing. In the 4th quarter, SBP began to close in on Germantown. But despite all this, the game ended with Germantown winning with a score of 15-7.

The Gray Bees played against rivals Pingry and Germantown in the tournament. (Brian Ramirez)

 

In the end, Germantown was the winner, with a record of 2-0, with Pingry coming in second with a record 1-1, and SBP being last with a record 0-2. Despite coming in last, SBP gave it their all, and according to SBP water polo team member Sovereign Brown UD1, “Despite our loss I can proudly say that (Mr. Vespole) would be proud of the amount of effort we put in.”

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