One of the questions I am most often asked about being a priest is, “What do you like best about it?” My answer is always the same, that I get to celebrate the Eucharist. The second thing I like best about it is that Bishop Duca assigned me to be Chaplain of St. Frederick Catholic High School in Monroe. From the first day I stepped foot on that campus I fell in love with the school and most particularly with the students. They helped me to understand spiritual fatherhood and by being a part of the grand tradition I became dedicated to supporting them spiritually, academically and athletically.
In my first days there I began attending all their athletic events. The Jr. High football team was truly impressive as Coach Huey Parker formed them into a force to be reckoned with. I enjoyed their games and at times it was almost comical to see those scrawny boys wearing their helmets and shoulder pads that never seemed to fit. I can still see them there sitting around the cafeteria table so earnest and proud of their success and I told them that if they stuck it out and continued to play together that by their senior year they would be playing in the “Dome”.
State Championship games are not unknown to St. Frederick. One need only look in the trophy cases to see their athletic success on the tennis and basketball courts, but one has always seemed elusive, football. It seemed like no matter how well they were coached or how superior they were as athletes, after a couple of rounds in the playoffs our season would come to an abrupt end. This season is different however; those scrawny boys have stuck it out and continued to play together. There is nothing comical about their appearance any longer. Their shoulder pads and helmets fit exactly right and I no longer look down at them with hope but look up at them with pride.
Their record under Coach Jeff Tannehill’s leadership has been amazing as they finished the regular season with six wins and four losses. From each of those games, win or lose, they learned something valuable. Just how valuable has shone clearly in the playoffs as they soundly defeated False River, Highland Baptist, Country Day and Southern Lab. Now because of the wise decisions of the coaches, the hard work of the players and the untiring support of the Warrior faithful they are going to the “Dome” for the first time in the School’s history. There they will meet Vermillion Catholic to determine who will be the next State Champion.
by Fr. Matthew Long