September 2, 2015

Fall sports season

Last year we began a new tradition of launching each sports season with a Mass for our athletes and coaches.  Our Mass for the Fall season was scheduled for this past Monday but our chaplain Fr. Richard Dion had a scheduling conflict at the last minute so we decided to have a prayer service instead.  

The athletes and coaches gathered in our gym after school on Monday and we began with a Liturgy of the Word.  Molly Hayden '16 proclaimed a reading and the Psalm and I read a gospel passage and  offered a reflection (see below).  Our athletic director, Mr. Polak, then called up all the coaches and I presented them with a prayer book for sports from the University of Notre Dame and a holy medal of St. Sebastian, the patron saint of athletes.  Mr. Polak then offered a few words on sportsmanship and Jason Dufour '16 led us in some final intentions and the Lord's Prayer.

Here's to a great season!  My reflection is below:

The last time I really played organized sports was in junior high school.  The final year of my baseball career, my batting average was .000.  My final glory was scoring 4 points in a season for my 8th grade basketball team - one jump shot and two free throws!  But recently I heard about Irish sports called Gaelic football and hurling.  If you have never watched Gaelic football or hurling, watch some You Tube videos when you get home tonight and you will be hooked.  I was so hooked on hurling that I decided to join a hurling team in Worcester last summer.  I am not bragging but once I joined the team, we not only won the Northeast Championship but also the North American Championship.  Truth be told, I could hardly walk after playing in my first game and after that I only saw one half of play.  

Hurling is known as the fastest game on grass and is 70 minutes of running on a field bigger than a football field trying to get a ball over goal posts for 1 point or in a net for 3 points.  You use a flat stick called a hurley to pass or carry the ball and you can only hold it for three steps before having to pass it.  It is a pretty rough sport and someone called it a cross between lacrosse and manslaughter!  

Hurling’s origins go back to ancient days but it was organized in its current form around the 1880’s.  During that time, Ireland was still under the control of Great Britain and many Irish wanted a sport that was uniquely theirs as they not want have to play British sports like cricket or soccer.  Not only that, not a single player is paid to play hurling and Gaelic football, they do it for the pride of their local team or their county.  The ultimate goal is to win the All-Ireland Final in hurling and/or Gaelic football, not because of the money or the fame but because of the pride for the player’s fellow countrymen and women.  So hurling and Gaelic football are not only amazing sports to watch and play but they have great appeal to Irish nationalism, identity, and culture.  

I think we can say the same thing about sports here at Trinity High School.  You play cross country, football, soccer, golf, cheer, and volleyball not because you are going to play for a Division 1 school or professional (although we have some hope for some of you!).  You play sports here for the love of the game, the love of your teammates, and and for the love of Trinity High School.  When you step onto the field, the court, or the course this fall, you are representing yourself, your team, and Trinity High School and you’re doing so out of pure passion.  Sports is something “extra” here at Trinity but it is certainly part of our goal to develop you as people of faith, scholarship, and character.  I urge you to thank God each time you have the opportunity to play sports here and remember some of these quotes from scripture:

An athlete cannot receive the winner’s crown except by competing according to the rules

Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.
And finally, and ultimately, for sports and for our lives of faith, when all is said and done, remember:
I have competed well; I have finished the race;I have kept the faith.From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.


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