Warren Area Celebrates JFK’s Baseball Championship

NILES, Ohio – Warren Mayor Doug Franklin learned of John F. Kennedy Catholic School’s state baseball championship through state Rep. Michael O’Brien, D-Warren, a 1973 graduate of the school.

“He said, ‘We won! We won!” Franklin said.

A couple calls later, a police and fire department escort met the JFK baseball team at the city limits of Warren the evening of June 13, leading them across town and back to the high school.

Signs commemorating the Division IV Ohio High School Athletic Association Championship are being made, to be placed on the main entry roads into Warren, Franklin said.

Thursday afternoon, a crowd of approximately 75, including some local dignitaries, were in attendance at center court of Eastwood Mall to honor the baseball team’s accomplishment.

Cafaro Co. co-president William A. Cafaro presented a $10,000 check to JFK on behalf of the Eastwood Mall, the Cafaro family and the Cafaro Foundation in honor of the team’s championship.

The Howland High School boys soccer team was honored in late January for its Division II state championship in November. The Cafaro Foundation also donated $10,000 to Howland Local Schools for their title as well. The Cafaros also honor other state champions from communities across the United States where the commercial real estate company has sites. 

“It’s nice to see a hometown team doing it,” said Joe Bell, spokesman for the Cafaro Co. “It really is. Every place where we do business, where we have shopping centers, we’re happy to do this for them. It means a lot to them, their parents and the whole community sometimes gets excited about this. We just want to recognize the effort they put into it.”

David Bonnar, Bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown, said this was his first experience honoring one of his member schools after being appointed to the post in November.

“I can’t wait to come back here next year and do it again,” he said. “What a great moment this is for your school and all of us. These men have brought a renewed sense of pride and a deeper sense of legacy to the school and this community.”

Kennedy president Joseph Kenneally credits these athletes with perseverance throughout the season, playing with just 11 players on the squad. It takes nine to field a baseball team.

“They are our mighty 11,” he said.

Junior pitcher Gavin Shrum threw a complete-game shutout in a 4-0 victory June 13 as the Eagles defeated Van Wert Lincolnview for the Division IV championship at Canal Park in Akron. Nervousness did not impact him that day as adrenaline and the crowd of JFK students behind the team’s dugout carried him through each inning.

This team had one senior, three juniors, a sophomore and six freshmen this season. All but one player will return for the 2022 season.

“I’m kind of happy to see what next year holds for us,” Shrum said.

“We won a state championship with six freshmen. So they obviously were doing something right,” said senior Cameron Hollobaugh, who is heading to NCAA Division II Walsh University to play football and baseball.

The three-sport standout said he’ll remember his time wearing the Kennedy colors and how had a senior year to remember. Hollobaugh was on the Division VII state runner-up team, while his basketball team advanced to a Division IV regional championship game. Finally, he capped his illustrious career with a baseball title.

“It means everything to me,” he said. “All the people we have behind us, the alumni. Just to be able to represent them, myself and the school is a great feeling.”

Hollobaugh was named Trumbull County Coaches Association football and boys basketball Player of the Year. O’Brien said if there was a top baseball honor, the JFK senior would’ve won that as well.

“Cam Hollobaugh goes down as one of the best athletes to come out of Trumbull County,” said the state representative.

Franklin presented Kenneally with a plaque on behalf of the city of Warren commemorating JFK’s accomplishment.

“You were undermanned, but never outworked,” Franklin said. “People counted you out, but you sort of reflected the spirit of our community, our Valley. Don’t ever count us out. We’ll rise to the occasion every single time.”

This is the third team state champion the Eagles have won since 2015, starting with a Division III track and field championship and followed by a Division VII football state title in 2016. Franklin was there to honor JFK’s football accomplishment as he was Thursday for the baseball team.

“I said it then and I’ll say it now,” Franklin said. “How ‘bout them Eagles?’”

Pictured: The John F. Kennedy Catholic School baseball team was honored Thursday at Eastwood Mall in Niles for winning the Division IV state baseball championship on June 13 in Akron. Members of the team, front row, from left, are Michael Mauro, Gavin Shrum, Nico Ciminero, Alex DeSalvo and Santino Ciambotti. In the back row, from left, are head coach Jim Ciambotti, Caleb Hadley, Quinn Meola, Jaden Rishel, Aidan Rossi, Cameron Hollobaugh, manager Freddy Bolchalk and assistant coach Carmen DeChristafaro. Missing from the picture were Michael Condoleon and assistant coach Patrick Mokros.

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