When Daniel Giguere plays basketball, every bit of passion he has for the game is left on the court.
Everything from his offseason workouts to his pep talks after a tough game comes from a deep appreciation of not only the game, but the work that goes into it.
That passion landed the 18-year-old Flint Hill School senior, who will be walking at graduation today, a spot on the Kenyon College men's basketball roster next season.
His interest in sports began with baseball, an extension of his father's love for the sport. In high school, Giguere began to lose interest in baseball as he poured more of himself into the more physical sport of basketball as a means to work through tragedy.
In 2008, his mother shot and killed his father at their home during a domestic dispute while Giguere, then 14, and his younger brother were also in the Vienna home. His mother was sentenced to eight years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.
"In eighth grade, I lost both my parents," Giguere said. "I kinda just wanted to start off new, a new sport and everything. It was something to do to keep me from going off in the wrong direction. I really think basketball is why I stayed on a good path. I learned to work hard, and I feel like all that work just transcended into everything else I did, including school."
Giguere said basketball suited his needs during that time because it could be a solitary sport, one that allowed him to find an empty court when he started to feel angry or depressed, both of which he has struggled with at times since the incident.
"If you see the way I play, basically I use basketball as a way to get out all that pain and adversity in a safe way," Giguere said. "I'm really passionate, and maybe sometimes a little too passionate. I'm probably going to have to work to control those emotions."
He also credits his inner circle of friends and extended family members — he lives with his aunt and uncle — for helping him steer clear of the path he might have taken if he did not have such positive surroundings. Instead, he stayed on a path that earned him a spot on the starting lineup for both the basketball and baseball teams, and the votes of his peers for student body president.
Basketball also provided Giguere with the positive male role model he acknowledges he needed at such a vulnerable time in his life: Coach Rico Reed.
"Coach Reed has just been a blessing. He's been my father figure, and I feel like he's the biggest reason I play basketball and am still on a good path," Giguere said. "I trust him like a dad. Watching him around the school and how he carries himself as a person, and how he's respected, I want to copy that. I want to keep a relationship with him for forever."
The feeling is mutual, with Reed effusive in his praise of Giguere as a man and a role model for his fellow students. When disciplining some of the younger students recently, Reed asked them to talk about the good things about the Flint Hill community. Each of them mentioned Giguere as an inspiration because of the example he sets within the school and because of his use of social media to put out inspirational videos and raps, said Reed, who added he has gotten emotional watching a few of the videos.
"I think the qualities that Daniel exhibits on a regular basis are qualities that as a coach I would like to see in every player, as an educator I would like to see in every student, and as a father I would like to see in every son," Reed said. "I mean that from the bottom of my heart. He's an amazing kid."
Reed's encouragement helped keep Giguere motivated until he had an epiphany one morning during his junior year: "I'm going to work hard every day and just see what happens," he thought.
Though Giguere is not the best player on the team, he turned into a solid one others looked up to because of his hard work and positive attitude. Adamant to continue his basketball career in college, Giguere began researching Division III schools to find the perfect fit for his basketball and academic needs. At the suggestion of his friend Brian Gross, a Flint Hill alumnus who also played basketball for the Huskies, he took a look at Kenyon in Gambier, Ohio.
"For a D-III school, its athletic facilities are incredible," Giguere said. "And on the academic side, it's really focused on writing and English, which is my kind of thing. I think it's a perfect fit."
After a campus visit and a few conversations, Kenyon's assistant coach came down to take a look at Giguere, a 6'3" forward, during a practice with the Huskies.
"The first thing we look for is a good all-around student-athlete. Kenyon College being one of the most selective colleges in the country, it's not just about basketball. It's about the whole student," said Chris Ehmer, the Kenyon assistant coach. "I think Daniel encompasses all of those. He's going to be the kid we have to kick out of the gym on a nightly basis. We really look forward to his energy and his passion."
Academically, Giguere wants to dabble in different things on campus, maybe pick up the guitar or pursue leadership roles like the one he's had at Flint Hill. But while he experiences all that college has to offer, Giguere plans to study psychology, a path inspired by his psychologist who has played an active role in his life.
"I want to help kids who were in the same situation as me. I want to help kids in that vulnerable state, when they can be pulled off into different directions," Giguere said. "I've always liked to help people. Kinda my motto is, which is something I read, once I get through hell, I want to go back and bring everyone else out of it, too. I want to try my best to help people."