The end of October has me thinking about the fall sports finales:  Girls tennis and volleyball; boys soccer; coed cross country and golf.  I was thinking of some of the memorable moments from those sports from years past.   Before I get to those memories, there is something else that has come to mind which has a sport affiliation:  Nike’s famous motto.

   “Just Do It” is a good motto for someone who sees the circumstances of life as an obstacle to be overcome.  Get things done and over with because each thing is just another burden to bear and part of a series of meaningless acts.  But it is not a good motto for us.  Many days I catch myself saying a modified Nike promo:  “Let’s just get this done.” 

   There was a reflection recently in Magnificat that shows the shallowness of this attitude.  Here’s what it said.  

   “’The circumstances through which God has us pass are an essential and not a secondary factor of…the mission to which he calls us….[Since] the Mystery has become flesh in a man, the circumstance in which one takes a position about this in front of the whole world is important for the very definition of witness”’(L. Giussani)

   “For us, then, circumstances are not neutral.  They are not things that happen without any meaning; that is, they are not just things to put up with, to suffer stoically. They are part of our vocation, of the way God…calls us, challenges us, educates us….circumstances call us to him.  It is he who calls us through them.  It is he who calls us to destiny through everything that happens.”  (Father Julian Carron)

   So we don’t “just do it” throughout a day.  We embrace it because it is a call, a challenge, an education.  It is the very means to holiness.

   Now to the sports memories.

   Tennis brings to mind Mary Cammack.  I think Mary may have been the best girl athlete ever at Seton. (Mary came to one volleyball practice and was better than any spiker we had during the time I coached.  And at the field day we had for making the Ad Campaign goal, she was far and away the fastest girl.) If she wasn’t the best athlete ever, she was probably the nicest and most unassuming one. She lived in Leesburg, so her commute was very long and she wasn’t able to play sports every season, but she did play tennis a couple seasons.  In her first year, there was a player from R-MA that everyone in the league had already crowned as the singles champ before the season started.  She was big, strong, athletic.  Mary didn’t immediately appear to be a good athlete.  I hit balls with Mary in practice, and her consistency was amazing.  It was like hitting against a wall – the ball always came back.  To score a point, one had to make a great shot because Mary was not going to have a hitting error.  Mary won her matches with the girl from R-MA easily and won the singles title. 

   Volleyball.  In a year Mr. P. was coaching the girls reached the finals against Fredericksburg Christian and the tournament final was at Seton.  FCS had won the meetings during the year and had their usual good team, but also had one player who was a real standout.  It was the first time I remember the gym being packed for a volleyball game – partly because FCS brought a lot of fans and their fans were outdoing our crowd in cheering.  So Mr. Pennefather got the Seton student body organized and Seton was rivaling FCS in volume.  On the court, the games were close and intense and the teams split the first four games.  So it was down to the deciding 5th game.

   The score was 14-13, Seton, and Karen Sowala hit a spike that tipped off the blocker’s fingers and out-of-bounds.  It should have been game and match, but the ref didn’t see the touch and it was side out for FCS.  (This was in the day when a team could only score if it was serving.) 

   The rotation brought Lindsey, the great player, to the front row.  FCS scored the next two points and had the serve with a 15-14 lead.  Seton returned the serve, but FCS was able to set Lindsey, and it looked as if it was all over.  Lindsey hit her spike and Therese Pennefather was able to stuff block it.  Seton then scored three straight to take the title. Therese later said that she had said so many prayers and made so many promises during that last game that  she wasn’t quite sure if she had promised to be a nun or not. 

   Soccer.  This memory is one of the most agonizing.  We were playing Wakefield Country Day who for years had usually had the upper hand against us in soccer.  The score was tied fairly late in a game at their place.  Joe Angsten was in goal and a fullback tried to play a ball back to him.  Joe was playing up and the pass back was not really to him and was rolling slowly toward the goal with no one near to stop it.  All players and fans stood still watching that slowly rolling ball that could determine the final outcome.  It was like watching slow motion as the ball approached the goal.  It looked like a sure Owl goal, but the ball somehow rolled just to the left of the goal post.  Seton won the game in the closing minutes.

   Cross Country.  One year Mr. Violette had to be away, and I was to take the teams to the Catholic State Championships at Burke Park if the runners wanted to go.  They did, so on the appointed day we headed to Fairfax.  When we got there, I was told that Seton wasn’t registered.  (I knew I had forgotten something!)  I was directed to the guy in charge who told me that a lot of planning and organization had been put into this and that we weren’t registered.  I said that I knew that, but I just want to know if our kids could run.  He said to come back in a little while.  I went back and he again told me about the planning and organizing, and I again told him I knew that, but I just wanted to know if I should take our runners home or if they could run.  He said that they could run.  Victory! 

   It was a great fall day – sunny with all the big leaves from the trees on the course.  There had been some rain earlier, which made for some slips and falls but that just added to the excitement for the spectators.  No matter how we ran, I was enjoying it all since I hadn’t had to tell everyone to load up and head back home without running. 

   Laura Shaw placed in the top ten and made Catholic All-State which made the day even better. 

   Golf.  I have no stories,  I never went to a golf match.   Well, this is maybe something.  When SVCA started suggesting at league meetings that we have golf in the DAC, I thought it was a joke.  I certainly never imagined that we would have players.  The league did decide to have golf, and I found out that we had Crums and Daniels who were not just players but great players.  We won the golf title in the inaugural year.

   OK Seton athletes.  It’s time for the league and state tournaments.  Just do it!  No, no, no.  Embrace it!.


Jezu, ufam Tobie.









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