It was the last inning of one of the last games of Nick Holmes’s career as a baseball player for Malden Catholic (MC) earlier this spring, and already he was working on the next big home run in his prep career.
However, baseball was one of the last things on his mind that day – which was a rare thing.
As he fidgeted with his glove, the MC Valedictorian had his mind on college.
Specifically, he was thinking about Harvard University.
He asked his coach if he could quickly peek at his e-mail to see if he’d been notified of any developments from Harvard’s Dean of Students.
As the last few pitches of the game were delivered to home plate, Holmes stood up and cheered, but not so much for the game.
His exuberance was for having been accepted to Harvard – as chronicled in an unforgettable and detailed e-mail on his cell phone.
To say it was a dream come true would not be accurate.
To say it was absolutely unexpected until just this spring would be more like it.
“I asked my coach towards the end of the game if I could check my e-mail and he let me,” said Holmes. “Just as the game ended I got the e-mail while I sat in the dugout. It was very exciting and I called my parents right away. They couldn’t believe it.”
Neither could Holmes.
“I really never thought much about Harvard,” said Holmes. “It wasn’t a long-term dream of mine, like for some other people. I was searching for colleges and wanted to stay local. My guidance counselor told me to consider going for a reach school like Harvard. I never considered the fact that I might get in. When I found out, it was like it wasn’t really happening. It was a complete surprise. You just never know with those kinds of schools because you don’t know what they’re looking for. Apparently, the liked my essay. So, it was good.”
Holmes graduated from MC at the end of last month as the valedictorian of the class – one of the first Revere valedictorians at MC in quite some time.
While at MC, the Mountain Avenue resident played baseball, football, and was on the newspaper staff.
But for a young man headed to one of the best universities in the world, he has a very casual and traditional lifestyle.
His father, Steve, who is a patent attorney at a Rhode Island law firm, and mother, Lisa, lead their family in a triple decker that contains a lot of other family members. In a very traditional setup, Holmes’s grandparents live on the first floor and his aunt and uncle and cousins live on the third floor.
It made for interesting holidays, he said, but also a close-knit and down-to-Earth family.
“It’s crazy, but it’s made family really close to me,” he said. “Everyone is right there. For Christmas dinner, I just walk downstairs to my grandparent’s apartment.”
His easy going Revere upbringing, though, did cause him to pause for a bit once he got accepted to Harvard. In fact, with a full-tuition Cardinal Medeiros Scholarship to Boston University also in play, Holmes said he wasn’t so sure he wanted to go to Harvard.
“I was really excited to get in, but I took a step back for a bit,” he said. “I wanted to take it all in and figure out what was the best fit for me. Harvard is a little overwhelming because you think you’re just going to be another kid there and might get lost. I didn’t know if I would fit in with the Harvard crowd. I ended up hanging out with two other guys from Revere who go there, Frank Davis and Michael Ferrante, and I talked with them about that and felt more comfortable. My guidance counselor also told me to make sure I went to the place that felt best, so that’s what I ended up doing.”
Holmes will report to Harvard in July, and said he thinks he wants to pursue mechanical engineering – something that piqued his interest when he was a kid playing around with bicycles in the neighborhood.
“My dad was an engineering major at Tufts University, so he kind of influenced me,” said Holmes. “Also, I have always liked building things with my hands, ever since we used to get scraps of wood from the garage and try to build the best bike ramps that we could. It was always interesting to try and make it better and better.”
And when he’s not working on an engineering problem, he said he and his friends like to play street hockey at the Beachmont School Rink – a pastime they’ve followed for several years.
Holmes, 17, attended Immaculate Conception School in Revere until the eighth grade, before moving on to MC.