page top

red arrow bulletNews

Alumnus John DeGroat visits students, shares struggles, stories and successes

May 28, 2013

On Monday, May 20, John DeGroat (Class of 2002) returned to the place that he credits with helping him get back on track, set goals for himself and become a successful basketball star – Monticello High School.

John DeGroat photoDeGroat visited the middle and high schools where he spoke with students about the importance of making good choices. “Wake up every morning and set a goal for yourself for the day. Reach that goal and make another one. Never stop trying to be a better person,” advised DeGroat.

Not shy about sharing his academic struggles, DeGroat encouraged students to never give up on their dreams. He spoke about the supports he took advantage of when he came to Monticello. Reading and math were not strong subjects, he explained, but staying after school and working with teachers to improve made the difference.

Other advice he offered included the importance of trying again when confronted with failure; that making connections with teachers, guidance counselors and coaches is essential for success; and the importance of family and of their shared vision of your dreams.

DeGroat is unquestionably a Monticello success story. After graduating from high school, he attended Northeastern Junior college in Sterling, CO, where he was a member of the basketball team.

He then transferred to University of Pittsburgh where he also played basketball. In his final semester, he played in the CBA (Continental Basketball Association) for the Pittsburgh Xplosion. After earning a degree in Criminal Justice, he spent the next eight months playing basketball in Ireland, Finland and Hungary followed by three seasons in the Ukraine. Currently, DeGroat is a member of Boca, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In the off-season, he returns to the University of Pittsburgh to train with old friends.

After speaking with the students, and taking group and individual photos, DeGroat returned later in the day to sign each one. “His visit was so valuable to our kids,” said Shari Biro, DeGroat's former teacher and Director of Pupil Personnel Services. “He knows what it was like to be a teenager - wondering where his life would lead and how he would get there. He is very humble and appreciative of the foundation that Monticello gave him to build his dreams.”

Although he has accomplished so much, DeGroat still dreams big – when asked what his “big dream” was he answered: “I want to play for the New York Knicks and have my name on the back of THAT jersey!” Regardless of whether his dream comes true, one thing is certain – the Monticello community will be there to cheer him on.