Whitman Voices


Orange Family Legacy: Will Cass’ Fourth-Generation Syracuse Tradition

Orange Family Legacy: Will Cass’ Fourth-Generation Syracuse Tradition

Collage_WillI didn’t have much of a choice when it came to selecting a college. Not that I was forced – quite the opposite. Nearly 15 of my family members over four generations have graduated from Syracuse. So for an aspiring sportscaster, it was a no brainer that SU was the only home for me.

Much of my upbringing was all things Syracuse. My earliest childhood memories include driving up to campus every year with my family to see a football game. I remember that visceral feeling of excitement driving up I-81 and seeing the Carrier Dome in the distance. Or when my grandpa Manny Shemin ‘52 took me to the 1996 NCAA tournament championship basketball game versus Kentucky. Or watching Donovan McNabb throw a last second winning heave to Steve Brominski against Virginia Tech in 1998 with my dad Alan Cass ‘69. I still get goosebumps thinking about these moments.

Most alums will agree, SU sports are a cornerstone of the student experience. William Shemin ‘23, my great grandfather and first in my family to attend SU, played football and lacrosse. As a freshman, my dad played lacrosse for the eventual coaching legend Roy Simmons, Jr. As the athletic disappointment in my family, I only covered SU sports for the radio station WAER. My brother Sam Cass ‘13 did his part by never missing one football or basketball game in his four years on campus.

SU has done so much for my family beyond just providing sports memories. It’s helped shape our lives professionally and personally. I’ve developed lifelong friendships with classmates, faculty and staff that I truly value. We try to do our best to pay it back.

I’m fortunate enough to remain very close to SU through numerous programs and find myself on campus several times a year. It’s been fewer than 10 years since I graduated but I already experience great nostalgia when I do make it back. My family did not force me to attend SU and I promise to treat my kids the same way. But there will certainly be a rule that we only root for one team in my house. Go Cuse!

To read more about Will Cass, his family’s SU legacy and his great-grandfather Shemin’s posthumous Medal of Honor received by his family in June 2015 for his bravery and efforts in World War I, visit the Fall 2015 issue of the Whitman alumni magazine.

[Top Left Photo] Ina Shemin-Bass (holding the Medal of Honor) and Elsie Shemin-Roth, daughters of William Shemin, with President Obama at Shemin’s posthumous medal ceremony in June 2015. [Top Right] Will Cass [Bottom] The family of William Shemin at the medal ceremony. Front row (left to right) Ina Shemin-Bass and Elsie Shemin-Roth; Back row (left to right) Scott Bass (great-grandson), William Cass (great-grandson), Rachel Forman (great-granddaughter), Seth Forman (Rachel’s husband), Leslie Shemin-Lester (granddaughter) and Sam Cass (great-grandson).

Will Cass