To play in a state championship or to attend prom? How does a high school senior choose? With a date like Skyler Reinhardt, Katrina Buczkowski didn’t have to.
Reinhardt was willing to be dateless during half of his Clarence High School senior prom Friday night so that Buczkowski, a senior star softball pitcher, could have her date and pitch, too.
“Trina’s forfeiting something a lot of people don’t have to,” Reinhardt said. “I try not to be selfish and just think about myself, but it’s like her senior prom, and that’s a really important thing for a lot of kids, and she’s forfeiting almost half of prom and then all of post-prom.”
He escorted Buczkowski to the prom, beginning the evening taking photos at a friend’s house, taking a limo downtown to Alright-Knox Art Gallery for more candid moments and then heading to the prom for dinner and hopefully enough time for a dance, in the Buffalo Marriott Niagara.
At about 9:30 p.m., Buczkowski left so she and her parents could drive through the night to South Glens Falls for the state softball finals at 9:30 a.m. today.
Reinhardt was initially attracted to his classmate because of her well-rounded personality; Buczkowski is bubbly and friendly when walking the halls of Clarence High yet fiercely competitive when on the pitching mound.
So Reinhardt made sure she got to make memories at the prom before competing in the big game, which he and his parents planned to drive to starting at about 4 a.m. after post-prom festivities.
“I think Trina definitely deserves that,” Reinhardt said. “I’m over being dejected from not having her around for part of it. I’m just glad she’s not going to be miss it because softball, another great passion of hers, happens to be the next day.”
The Clarence seniors became close friends in January, when they bonded over AP calculus homework in seventh-period study hall. Quickly, they became inseparable – moving their study sessions to the Barnes and Noble on Transit Road, baking cupcakes at Reinhardt’s house, joining each other’s families for dinner, going to the Buffalo Zoo and watching “Frozen” with Reinhardt’s little brother.
But Buczkowski and Reinhardt maintain they are just friends.
“We’re not really trying to make a relationship because we’re both leaving for college in less than three months,” Buczkowski said.
Reinhardt says the same thing. But he admits he was he drawn to Buczkowski right away.
“In school and stuff, she’s very cordial, bubbly, she’s fun, she’s funny, she’s really eccentric even,” Reinhardt said.
Sort of like her prom dress. It was sparkly on top, and from the hips down the purple, fully-sequined skirt is covered in sheer.
The happy-go-lucky 18-year-old helped Reinhardt excel in calculus and shared the same determination as him to score perfect grades in all of their advanced classes.
But above all, Reinhardt, 17, was “blown away” at how she transforms when she steps on the mound. It’s one of his favorite things about her.
“A few times, my family and myself would ask her, ‘Oh, Trina, did you hear us? We were cheering for you.’ And she’d say, ‘Oh no, not really, I try not to look at anybody or listen to any of the crowd.’ ”
That focus has paid off. Buczkowski led her varsity team to a 20-1 record this season, including an 11-1 mark in ECIC I. Buczkowski is 38-4 for her career.
Reinhardt, a self-proclaimed introvert, worked up the courage to ask Buczkow- ski to the prom in March. He bought a colorful bouquet that he thought reflected her personality – bright and vibrant. He went to her house after track practice to ask if she would be his date.
He was elated when she said yes but dejected when, two weeks ago, she told him she would have to leave the prom only a few hours after it started to head to state finals.
But he became OK with being dateless for the rest of the night.
“I wouldn’t want her to feel guilty because she really deserves all the recognition she’s received, especially making it to states,” Reinhardt said. “She wanted to still retain some enjoyment and some memories of her senior prom,”
Reinhardt is making sure she does, and then he’ll be there to cheer her on at one of the most important games of her life.
This summer, as Reinhardt prepares to head to Cornell University to study political science and Buczkowski to attend Ramapo College in New Jersey to play Division I softball, they plan on spending as much time together as possible.
Lora, Reinhardt’s mother, has watched the two bond since January. Reinhardt is introverted and more reserved. Buczkowski is funny and quirky. They complement one another, and Lora has noticed that Reinhardt values that.
“I admire him not only as my son but as a person to not just ask her to be his girlfriend just for the sake of asking her, but rather have this incredible bond, this friendship, right now,” Lora said. “And who’s to say what’s to happen?”
Perhaps if the two teens follow their senior quotes, published with their photos in the yearbook, they will continue to make decisions like they did the night of prom.
Reinhardt quoted C.S. Lewis: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
Buczkowski wrote: “Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.”