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Coffee and taekwondo: pastimes of Paul Cassidy

Photo by Camden Andl ’19 | Paul Cassidy ’19 cleans up after making a pressed cup of coffee in Lake Pleasant on a school camping trip.

By Victor Beck ’20 & Alex Cannella ’19



Paul Cassidy ’19 has been a staple in the community for many years being a driving force in organizations like STUCO and Brophy Culture Project..

Aside from being the three-time winner of Poetry Out Loud, an on-campus competition in which students recite poetry, Cassidy has taken up a new hobby he says teaches him a lot about human connection.

“Coffee has taught me that a simple beverage can bring people together and help them (and myself) slow down and appreciate moments of grace in a fast and hectic world,” Cassidy said.

He attributes his love of coffee to an old French press he found in his house.

“I looked up a video online on the method and immediately fell in love with it when I found I could make tasty something that was normally bland, bitter, and unpleasant,” Cassidy said. “After having coffee drowned in flavored creamers, sugar, and artificial flavor, I began to appreciate and love the bean for its true nature.”

Cassidy said when brewing coffee, it offers up a time for him where he can reflect and think.

“I find that coffee can be centering. For myself as I brew it, I get to collect my thoughts and put energy into something that I enjoy,” Cassidy said.

Additionally, Cassidy said it is a way in which he can serve and make others happy.

“It also helps me center on my family as I make them drinks that they enjoy,” Cassidy said. “Coffee has become an element in my life where I get to make myself better by serving others.”

Yael Balbuena Basto ’19 is a friend of Cassidy’s and also works with him in STUCO and Brophy Culture Project.

“There have been moments where he would actually bring coffee supplies to class and during student council he will make coffee,” Balbuena said. “We will be having a meeting about when the next FNL is going to be and he would be shaking the coffee beans.”

Balbuena also recalls there being many conversations between Mr. Pete Burr ’07 and Cassidy taking place being solely about coffee.

“He doesn’t bring coffee often, but his chats about coffee have happened multiple times,” Balbuena said. “He was talking to Mr. Burr about getting a coffee machine in the photo room so they can make coffee there.”

Overall, Balbuena describes Cassidy as being incredibly empathetic and sincere.

Paul is amazing he is like this guy who is always smiling and the crazy thing about Paul is if you ask for help from him he will always be there for you and be willing to help you,” Balbuena said. “I always appreciate Paul because whenever I have struggles, or I don’t know what to do I’ll ask for his help and he is always there for me.”

Moreover, Cassidy has made a name for himself as a person who is committed and gets things done, especially in regards to student council.

Michael Nowakowski ’20 is in student council and takes note of how Cassidy leads.

“He is always the first one to take the lead and he is really never shy about any ideas he has,” Nowakowski said. “He is for sure passionate about everything thing he does if he wants to do it, it’s most likely going to get done.”

Regardless where, Cassidy continues to show his selfless attitude and commitment to helping others.

From making a cup of coffee to planning the upcoming Brophy-Xavier dance, Cassidy emulates his passion for helping in everything he does.

Paul Cassidy travelled to Australia to participate in the International Taekwon-Do Federation tournament on Sept. 22.

He spent nine days there competing against other ITF students from around the world.

Cassidy has been a member of JSK Taekwondo since he was in grade school. Although TSK had travelled to a few international competitions, Cassidyhimself has never been out of the country for tournaments before.

This year the International Taekwon-Do Federation hosted its annual ITF World Cup in Sydney Australia. The tournament was held in the Sydney Olympic Park.

Over 1000 competitors from 35 different countries travelled to participate.

In Australia, Cassidy competed in four different events: patterns, flying side kick, sparring, pre-arranged sparring.

Patterns is routine based style of competition that is choreographed with exact steps.

Flying side kick is an event where Cassidy has to jump over a 4’7’’ bar and kick a piece of wood.

Sparring consists of striking your opponent in the chest or head.

In the last event, Pre-arranged Sparring, Cassidy performed a simulated fight sequence of moves with his instructor, Joe Karstadt.

The tournament was streamed on the internet and Cassidy’s friends supported him from the United States. ”We’re so proud of Paul. It’s amazing to see one of your best friends succeed in something he’s passionate about,” said Jake Flaherty ’19.

While he may not have won any medals, Cassidy is still content with his performance in the tournament. “I learned where I am in the spectrum with my age group,” said Cassidy. “It was inspiring to see where I could be with X amount of practice in X amount of years.”

Paul has done taekwondo as long I’ve known him,” said Michael Carlin ’19. “I couldn’t imagine him quitting.”

There are nine dans, or degrees, of the taekwondo black belt rank. Currently, Cassidy holds the 2nd dan rank and looks forward to achieving higher dans in the future.

As for continuing to practice his taekwondo, Cassidy doesn’t see himself giving up anytime soon.

“Even if there’s not a ITF school around where I end going to college, I think I’ll stay connected to what I’ve learned,” Cassidy said.

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