Linda Oppelt

Pirates play first homecoming game in three years

By Joe Trechter

COLORADO SPRINGS. On a cool autumn night last month, current and alumni Pirates of St. Mary’s High School celebrated 137 years of tradition with a week of homecoming events, culminating in the school’s first homecoming football game in three years. Warriors dressed in Pirate green are once again moving the pigskin up and down the gridiron.

Students, parents, faculty, alumni, and alumni parents spanning many decades filled the stands with great energy to cheer on the Pirates. Leading the opening prayer, as well as helping cheer on the Pirates, was Bishop Golka, himself a former high school football athlete at Central Catholic High School in Grand Island, Nebraska. Our bishop and fans saw the Pirate football team jump out to an early lead, play hard for four quarters, but ultimately endure a tough loss to a talented Calhan team.

Despite some ups and downs, the Pirate faithful are thrilled to be back under the Friday night lights. Athletic Director Tommy Darneal, a member of the St. Mary’s class of 1999, was quick to praise football head coach Jim Cristelli.

“Coach Cristelli is everything we want in a St. Mary’s coach — experienced, faithful, and 100% committed to his players. I couldn’t be more proud of what he’s done to bring joy and excitement back to our Friday nights,” Darneal said.

When asked about his football team, the reserved Cristelli turned philosophical, “The game of football provides coaches the opportunity to teach young men about life. At St. Mary’s, we are also allowed to teach them about our Catholic faith. Boys do not become men by accident; they must be taught and molded by the men in their lives. God has blessed us with the chance to be a part of that molding.”

The final score of the game did nothing to diminish the enthusiasm of a homecoming week filled with spirited student activities that delivered a normal homecoming week after two years of pandemic limitations.  Whether it was the homecoming dance; or student theme days such as “Dress Like a BBQ Dad”; or the football team attending Mass the day of the game, the entire week had much to offer.

Sophomore Makylia Borg offered a great perspective on the entire homecoming experience.

“One thing I enjoyed about homecoming was the week leading up to it” she said.

“The theme days were funny and unique, the games almost every night, senior nights, bonfire, etc. were all very fun! The teachers and student council did a very good job putting everything together.”

Equally effusive in her words was senior Maddie O’Canna.

“I would have to say the entire week of homecoming was so much fun,” O’ Canna said. “There were so many highlights that made my last homecoming my favorite. Two things I enjoyed greatly were the pep assembly and powderpuff. I loved seeing the football boys break out of their shells and enjoy a good laugh with the student body. Powderpuff overall was a great mix of friendly competition and community. I give hoco week a 10/10!”

The homecoming experience also offered the opportunity to give current and alumni families a heads up for next summer’s first annual “Pirate Family Reunion.”

This inaugural summertime event will take place beginning Saturday, June 10, 2023 and will include food, fun and even friendly competition for alumni, alumni families, current families and supporters of St. Mary’s. “Homecoming” never ends for a school with 137 years of “Faith, Knowledge, Community” tradition.

Whether you are a current family, an alumnus, an alumni family, or a member of the broader community, you are always welcome to “come home” to St. Mary’s.

 (Joe Trechter is the Director of Development and Alumni Relations for St. Mary’s High School)

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