Like Father, Like Daughter
By Kate Griffin
Special to GoHolyCross.com
Every time junior Gabby Muniz, a member of the softball team, walks up to the Luth Athletic Complex she walks by her father's name on the Holy Cross Varsity Club Hall of Fame. Her father, Matt Muniz (Class of 1986), was named a Hall of Famer for ice hockey in 2005.
Gabby's father is not the only family member to graduate as a Crusader. “I think that the Muniz family and Holy Cross are synonymous,” joked Gabby. “I have had nine relatives who went here.” Her grandfather, Robert Muniz, is Class of 1958. Uncles Paul Muniz (Class of 1984) and Denis Cronin (Class of 1989) both played ice hockey for the Crusaders. Gabby has a combination of five uncles and cousins who have also graduated from Holy Cross.
One of Gabby's first memories of Holy Cross was attending her father's Hall of Fame award ceremony in 2005. “I always knew Holy Cross was there, it was always in the background growing up as an option,” said Gabby.
Gabby Muniz, her brother Bobby and her father Matt Muniz '86 at the Hall of Fame Ceremony in 2005
Matt was a two-year captain of the Crusader men's hockey team during the 1984-1985 and 1985-1986 seasons. He set a school single-season record with 53 assists in 1984-1985 and his 86 points that season were second all-time at Holy Cross. Over the course of his collegiate career, Matt totaled 207 points on 87 goals and 120 assists, while recording five career hat tricks. He finished his career ranked second all-time at Holy Cross in assists, tied for third in points and sixth in goals.
Gabby, a native of Rockport, Mass., began her softball career at a young age. She explored other sports but always came back to softball. “Softball was my favorite sport, and it always has been,” said Gabby. In middle school, Gabby knew she wanted to continue to play softball in college.
Gabby's father was always involved in her athletics as a child. He coached her softball and soccer teams and supported each of her achievements. While her father encouraged her to try ice hockey, Gabby said that it was not the sport for her. “I did the learn to skate program, and was not very good at it,” explained Gabby. “He was always very supportive of whatever I did that made me happy. He never pushed hockey on me.”
In her first two seasons at Holy Cross, Gabby has been an instrumental member of the softball team at left field. In the 2016 season as a sophomore, she started in all 42 games. She tallied 14 hits and five RBI's. In the 2015 season as a freshman, she started in 24 of the 26 games played.
Growing up, Gabby and her father were always very close. Gabby fondly remembers the hours she and her father spent in the car driving to softball games together. “Just having the opportunity to sit for hours with him in the car and talk about whatever we wanted was really fun,” recalls Gabby.
When it came to deciding where to head to college, Holy Cross was always an option for Gabby. “Holy Cross has always been in the picture, and I always knew I was going to apply but was not sure if it would be the right fit for me,” said Gabby. “When I visited, I realized that it was the school that fit me the best, and I really loved it from the moment I arrived.”
Now a junior, Gabby has thrived in the classroom and on the field at Holy Cross. She is a biology major and is a member of the Holy Cross Leadership Academy. Gabby has learned about what it means to be a leader as part of the Leadership Academy. “Leadership isn't always about being the loudest person on the team, it is about how you can contribute most to help your teammates improve and help the team succeed,” said Gabby.
Gabby's softball number is coincidentally nine. Her father was number four in college, but that number had already been claimed by one of Gabby's teammates. She eventually chose nine, which turned out to be her uncle, Denis Cronin's number when he played for the Crusaders. “I didn't actually realize that until after I chose number nine in college,” explained Gabby. “So there is not really any significance, but it's funny.”
Gabby and her father's relationship has continued to grow since she started at Holy Cross. Her father was excited when she decided to attend his alma mater. “I remember my father attending all of my games and how much that meant to me,” said Matt. “I always found it to be special to play in front of my family, and I know my father really enjoyed that experience. When Gabby decided to attend Holy Cross it was very exciting. It brought back a lot of memories of spending time with my Dad. Receiving a top notch education was always my priority for Gabby, and when she made her decision I couldn't have been happier.”
Gabby says that she thought her father would be supportive wherever she went but is especially happy she decided to attend Holy Cross. “He gets to come back and visit and see some of his old friends and teammates,” said Gabby. “Holy Cross strikes me as a big part of the family.”
Gabby Muniz and her grandfather, Robert Muniz '58
Her father is so proud of everything his daughter has accomplished. “I am most proud of her being named to the Patriot League Academic Honor role in both of her first two seasons,” said Matt. “I know that between her hard work in the classroom, her dedication to her teammates and work on the softball field, Holy Cross is a place that will foster continuous growing for her as a person to conquer any challenges she may face in life.”
One of the benefits of a school like Holy Cross is a group of close-knit friends and eventually alumni after graduation. Her father has kept in touch with teammates, and Gabby hopes to receive the same benefit. “I think the biggest thing my dad got out of college was his friendships. He still talks to his old friends, roommates and teammates,” recalls Gabby.
Being a student-athlete at Holy Cross is truly a special experience. The bonds athletes form with their teammates last a lifetime. “The camaraderie between my teammates and myself and the whole atmosphere of being an athlete at a school like Holy Cross is awesome,” said Gabby.
“All my friends are so supportive. The best thing is relationships I've made with my friends and coaches.” Her father has the same memories. “Just walking around campus and seeing some familiar faces bring me back to my days on the Hill,” said Matt. “A lot has changed, but the sense of community is the same as it was when I was a student.”
Division I athletics, especially at Holy Cross is challenging but allows student-athletes to learn valuable life skills. “Gabby is very lucky to be a part of it, but I know how hard she works to keep up with being a Biology major and playing a Division I sport,” said Matt. “Playing softball at Holy Cross will teach Gabby skills such as time management, communication, teamwork and service to others that will translate into life after college, which is truly the point of the Holy Cross education.”
Gabby's experience at Holy Cross, is different from that of her father's, but she is always reminded of his legacy. “My dad and I, we played different sports, it is different,” said Gabby. “I feel like I am my own person, but it is always nice to walk through the Luth Athletic Complex and look over and see my dad's name on the wall on the plaque.”
The Crusaders will begin their 2017 season, under first year head coach, Jen Lapicki, on the road at the Runnin' Bulldog Invitational hosted by Gardner-Webb. Holy Cross will compete in five games from February 17-19.
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