Kentucky basketball is used to earning awards for their on-court play and efforts in the classroom, but it’s rare to see a Wildcat upperclassman receive the same recognition. That is, unless your name is Nate Sestina.
The graduate transfer from Bucknell has been a key piece to this year’s roster and he’s been affecting his new team both on and off the court. Sestina was recently named a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award, given to student-athletes who demonstrate excellence in the areas of community, classroom, character, and competition.
CLASS stands for “Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School” and is intended to encourage the student-athletes to continue their efforts as leaders in their community beyond college. Sestina was one of 30 Division I players nominated and the list will be cut down to 10 in February before a winner is named during the 2020 NCAA Final Four.
Here’s a brief exert from UK’s statement that they released on Sestina and his accomplishments in the community.
Throughout his collegiate career, Sestina has been a mainstay in the community. In just a few short months at Kentucky, he’s already participated in serving the Salvation Army, packing lunches, distributing to a local school and playing backyard games with a local elementary school as a part of God’s Pantry.
He also participated in a similar project while at Bucknell. One of his favorite community service projects while at Bucknell involved coordinating and executing a local marathon with other student-athletes. Sestina is also active at home while he is visiting family during his breaks from college. He can often be found offering motivational speeches to the football and basketball teams at his former high school. He pops in and reads to the elementary school students. Sestina also volunteers at his church, where he packs and organizes donations and distributes the items to families. During the holiday season, he joins his family in singing carols and helping decorate at The Manor, a local assisted living facility.
A native of Emporium, Pennsylvania, Sestina was the first athlete from his hometown to earn an athletic scholarship to a Division I program since the 1970s.
Sestina is averaging 6.9 points on 44.3 percent shooting from the floor and a 39.4 percent clip from deep. He’s also hauling in 5.4 rebounds in nearly 24 minutes per game for the ‘Cats.
Grad transfers are starting to become a fun trend.