KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Ever since he was in second grade, Kalamazoo Hackett senior Stephen Kwapis dreamed of playing baseball at Notre Dame.
Next year, that dream will become a reality.
"I talked to Michigan State, Michigan and Eastern Michigan a little bit," Kwapis said when asked about his recruitment.
While Kwapis says he was thankful to hear from different schools during his baseball recruiting process, he had his eyes set on only one the entire time.
"A lot of guys I know have big D-1 offers and all of that but honestly Notre Dame was where I wanted to go," Kwapis smiled. "I didn't have a big recruiting process like a lot of my buddies but Notre Dame was it, that's where I wanted to go."
At a Notre Dame prospect camp back in 2019, Kwapis didn't have the best start to his batting practice session, fouling off three consecutive pitches in front of the Irish coaching staff.
However, from there on, it was history as he did something he says he's only done once in his entire life, and it happened at a perfect time.
"I went to their prospect camp and hit seven home runs in a row in front of their head coach," he laughed. "They were blown away. After that, I got a direct message from their coach, went down to Notre Dame and they offered me."
He had been on Notre Dame's campus with his family several times growing up but during the visit in the fall of 2019, he officially knew it was his future home.
"I was down there and I said, 'Dad, this is where I want to go,'" he recalled. "They have top notch academics and obviously I'm Catholic so I fit in well at a Catholic school. Everything was crossed off and that's where I wanted to go."
Hackett head baseball coach Smiley Verduzco has been around all levels of baseball for the past 57 years and he says Kwapis will fit right in at the next level.
"He's a tough worker; he works so hard and takes the game seriously. He respects the game, respects the opponents and that kid can just work, he's very coachable," Verduzco added.
Committing to Notre Dame before the coronavirus pandemic turned out to be a bit of a weight off of his shoulders after last season was canceled.
Now, he's just looking forward to enjoying his senior season.
"Thankfully we're allowed to play this year," Kwapis said. "It was in doubt a little bit but now, I'm blessed to be out here. I love high school athletics; this where all the memories are made."
While he currently plays third base, he says he's open to any position at the next level to help the Irish win.
Notre Dame is currently 24-8 overall and ranked No. 7 in the country.