Jesuit High School culminated a festive Homecoming Week 2020 with an outdoor pep rally Thursday night (Oct. 15) at Corral Memorial Stadium followed by a full slate of activities at Friday's Homecoming football game: Senior Night, the Alumnus of the Year recognition, the Homecoming Court and Queen announcement, and a big football victory.
The outdoor pep rally was blessed with gorgeous weather and hosted by student body president Carlos Baldor '21. It featured humorous skits led by Nicholas Asher '21, presentations from football head coach Matt Thompson and offensive lineman Preston Simon '21, performances by the Academy of the Holy Names dance and cheerleading squads, and the crowning of the Baby King – senior Emy Okeke '21.
Prior to the football game vs. previously undefeated District rival Robinson, Senior Night was celebrated for the football team, pep band, and cheerleaders. Each student, along with their parents/family, was introduced and recognized at midfield.
The football team raced to a big early lead (en route to a 55-14 victory) before the special halftime recognitions. First, Jesuit's 2020-21 Alumnus of the Year, Dr. Leo Diaz '59, was posthumously honored (homepage photo). His wife, Elaine Diaz, son Chris Diaz '85, daughter Claudine Caballero, and additional family members were recognized at midfield by school president Fr. Richard C. Hermes, S.J. (Please see below more information about Dr. Diaz.)
Then the Homecoming Court was introduced. Representing Jesuit were juniors Ashton Buchanan '22 and Wells Clark '22, and seniors Baldor, Jack Delp '21, George Guerra '21, Dawson Kiser '21, and Nick Parisi '21. From the Academy of the Holy Names were juniors Bella Besece and Ava Polaszek, and seniors Zeta Bennett, Sam Donofrio, Elizabeth Gold, Elizabeth Newcom, and Cece Williams. Donofrio was crowned Homecoming Queen by Father Hermes.
The football team improved to 7-0 as Joe Pesansky '21 passed for 323 yards (all in the first half), Jo Smith '23 scored two TDs, and A.J. Cottrill '22 had an interception return TD. The Tigers now are ranked 14th in Florida among all schools in all classifications, and No. 3 in Class 5A, according to MaxPreps.
Homecoming Week began Monday (Oct. 12) with Jersey Day, launching a series of week-long dress-down days for the students leading up to the pep rally, football game, and special recognitions.
Please view below a video, and below that a photo slideshow, from Homecoming 2020. Below that is more information about the Alumnus of the Year, Dr. Leo Diaz '59.
2020-21 Alumnus of the Year - Dr. Leo Diaz '59
Since his graduation in 1959, Dr. Leo Diaz was a lifelong advocate of Jesuit, donating his time, talent, and treasure to supporting his alma mater and the Jesuit High School Alumni Association.
Throughout the years, Dr. Diaz served Jesuit in many leadership capacities, including as a key member of the faculty (1963-70), the Jesuit Foundation, Inc. (1985-2020), and Dads' Club (serving as President in 1984). He was a member of Jesuit High School's Hall of Fame (1977), Alumni Council (2004-20), and a long-time annual supporter of the school's Gaudiosa.
Professionally, Dr. Diaz was a respected professor at Hillsborough Community College, where he served as vice president of administrative affairs, and associate vice president for student services. He received many honors and awards, notably his designation as a Professor Emeritus at HCC and the Paul Harris Fellow Recognition by the Rotary Club of Tampa. In 2006, HCC established The Dr. Leo Diaz Scholarship, which is awarded to students pursuing a degree in education, nursing, or business.
Active in the community, Dr. Diaz was a devout member of St. Lawrence Catholic Church, where he attended daily Mass and served on the Parish Fund Raising Committee, and as a Eucharistic Minister. Dr. Diaz also served as a loyal member of several organizations, including holding leadership positions for the Boys and Girls Club of Tampa, Children's Board of Hillsborough County, Knights of Columbus, Sports Club of Tampa, and Tampa Rotary Club.
Dr. Diaz passed away to eternal life on May 29, 2020. He was a faithful, devoted, and loving husband to his wife, Elaine, for 58 years, as well as the proud parent of Chris Diaz (wife Toni) from the Class of 1985 and daughter Claudine (husband Joe Caballero '86).
For his many years of outstanding leadership and dedicated support to the school and our Tampa Bay community, Jesuit High School is proud to posthumously recognize Dr. Leo Diaz '59 as the 2020-21 Alumnus of the Year!