Saturday mornings for most teenagers are usually reserved for snaring extra sleep. For Michael Cooney, the day has been devoted to helping with the Challenger League, which is for players with physical or mental disabilities.
Since coming to Farragut at the beginning of his sophomore year, Michael – along with his teammates on the Farragut baseball team – have jumped on a school van and headed over to Azalea Little League to assist the Challenger League, which has players with ages that range from 4 to mid 30s.
“It’s rewarding to see how much they enjoy us being there,” said Michael, who is vice president of the local chapter of the Key Club. “It reminds you how much of a difference you can make if you decide to give back in some way.”
Michael, who is the president of the Farragut chapter of the National Honor Society and the vice president of the Student Government Association, said his growth as a leader wouldn’t have come about if it hadn’t been for his time at Farragut. His volunteer work also includes serving breakfast to the military veterans at American Legion Post 125, working as a mentor at TASCO (Teen Arts, Sports & Cultural Opportunities), and helping to feed the homeless at various centers throughout Pinellas County.
“Before I came here, I only knew of Farragut, or at least what I thought it was, as a military school where you sent bad kids,” said Michael, who transferred from Osceola High School. “I tell my friends now how that perception is completely wrong. Farragut is a place where leaders are made and strengthened. All the leadership opportunities I’ve undertaken are because of me being here.”
For example, Michael, who plays the lead trumpet in the Admiral’s Band, took it upon himself to re-arrange the band room last year so it was more conducive to an orchestra formation. He also rearranged the back room of the band room so sections of the band can practice there or lessons can be taught there.
“The leadership characteristics I’ve been able to develop here have helped me immensely,” said Michael, who is in charge of organizing the band for performances as well as making sure all his peer’s instruments are in tune. “Thinking back to who I was and who I would have been is amazing. I’ve been able to do so many different things here where at other schools, you get one club or one sport to choose.”
Furthermore, Michael – along with Myles Beach ’16, Rachel Goldstein ’16, and Jack Lescarbeau ‘16, and former Farragut student Sara Graves – was one of the accomplished few from Farragut to attend the USNA Summer Seminar in Annapolis, MD. The program, which introduces prospective Naval Academy applicants to the unique challenges of life as a midshipman, typically has approximately 7,000 worldwide applicants each year with 2,500 chosen.
“Being at Farragut first gave me the thought of possibly attending the Naval Academy,” said Michael, who was a counselor for Leadership Academy during this past summer. “Now, it’s definitely a reality that I want to attend.”