Catholic Trio Plays Solider Field Prep Bowl

August 30, 2010

by: Tom Danyluk

CSN Staff Writer

For years they played a thing at Soldier Field called the Prep Bowl – public school champs versus Catholic league champs. Chicagoland football wars. The season’s grand finale. In the ’42 game, during the war years, they were raising right hands and swearing players into the service right there on the field.

And in 1937 it was Leo High vs. Austin High and 120,000 swarmed the place and that’s still the all-time record for single-game football attendance. The nearest threat to that total converged during a NFL exhibition in back in 1994, Cowboys versus Oilers and the rowdies of Mexico City. Announced crowd: 112,336.

The Prep title game has long since closed down, but a trio of generous Chicago football men have set up an annual event that honors the tradition of that old playoff. They’ve hosted for six years now, and it’s called The Chicagoland Pre-Season Prep Bowl.

“Three games in one day,” says Jim McHugh, one of the event’s founders. “The whole point is get some of the better teams in the area together – Catholic versus public, ideally – and give them a chance to play in a big venue, a pro stadium. So the kids can look back and say, ‘We had a chance to kick off on the same field that the Chicago Bears play.’”

McHugh has been working the clock at NFL games for 25 years. During the regular season it’s the Bears, then a to-be-determined site for his playoff duty. Last year he worked the Indy-Jets AFC title game, and the year before that it was Seahawks-Packers in the divisional round, in a pretty Lambeau whiteout.

“Snow so thick you couldn’t read the names or the numbers,” says Mchugh. “We had a helluva time keeping things straight for that one.”

McHugh says the Soldier Field thrill is sometimes a bigger deal to the officials assigned to the event than it is to the juniors and seniors out there tearing up the turfs.

“A typical high school game has five officials; we upped it to seven for this event and there are no shortage of volunteers,” he laughs. “They love coming down to work these games.”

The event’s other organizers are Tim LeFevour (GM operations, soldier Field) and Frank Lenti. Lenti was Donovan McNabb’s coach at Mt. Carmel High, and he stresses that another appealing part of this Prep Bowl show is luring back alumni from winning times and letting them work their magic with the crowd.

“The recognition of former championship teams,” Lenti says, “gives the fans the opportunity to see the best of our past, along with the best of our current student athletes.

“It’s a non-profit deal for us,” says McHugh. “The goal is to raise enough dollars to pay the bills, the cost of opening the stadium for a day. The satisfaction when it all comes together, that’s for free.”

2010 Chicagoland Pre-Season Prep Bowl Results

Game 1: Simeon 47, Mt. Carmel 41. Back and forth, a day of sprints to the goal line. Carmel falls one sprint short.

Game 2: Morgan 16, Providence 14. Last play – Providence man whacks a 47-yarder, plenty of distance but wide by a pencil length. “On a high school field, that’s good,” moans a voice in the press box.

Game 3: Notre Dame Niles 19, Fenwick 13. ND storms 65 yards late to steal it. Drama abounds. 30 years ahead, 121,000 will claim to have seen it.

CatholicSportsNet Releases First Ever Catholic High School Football Preseason All-American Team

August 6, 2010

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (MetroCatholic) – 75 players. Three teams. One piece of history.
With the release of the first-ever Catholic High School Football All-American Team on Thursday, CatholicSportsNet (CSN) made history with the establishment of an unprecedented type of preseason rankings list.
This comprehensive list showcases 75 of the best high school football players in the country by choosing the top athlete at every position, including place kickers and punters.
Consisting of three dynamic teams, both offensive and defensive, the CSN Catholic All-American Team was compiled using various preexisting prospect and recruit ranking lists, as well as the following criteria: 2009 player statistics, recent success of player’s high school football program, strength of player’s college football team commitment or interest, and feedback from analysts and coaches.
“We are extremely excited about this inaugural CSN All-American Team and are proud of the players who were selected,” said Chris Jung, CatholicSportsNet Director of Affiliate Relations. “In sticking to our mission of nationwide recognition of Catholic achievements, we are confident that this phenomenal group of student-athletes reflects the best of the best in high school football.”
The complete list, which includes player information, bios, and location can be found at www.catholicsportsnet.com.

CatholicSportsNet (CSN) is a media company that serves as an aggregator of news and producer of content pertaining to the overall achievements of Catholic high school and collegiate sports teams, student-athletes, and coaches. CSN houses nine employees in Louisville, Ky., in addition to a stable of national contributors and analysts. More information on CSN can be found at www.catholicsportsnet.com.

Illinois baseball team hosts pre-game Catholic Mass

August 2, 2010

Geneva, Il (CNA).- Thanks to discussions between a priest and a minor league baseball team official, the Kane County Cougars of the Class A Midwest League hosted a Catholic Mass before a Friday baseball game earlier this month.

The Cougars of the Class A Midwest League, a team affiliated with the Oakland Athletics, organized the Mass at their baseball field in the Chicago suburb of Geneva.

The liturgy began at 5:30 p.m. and Mass attendees were required to have a ticket for the game. The July 16 event, which was billed as “Mass on the Grass,” drew participants from 14 area churches.

Cougars assistant general manager Jeff Ney said about 400 people attended the service. He did not think any players attended because they were preparing for the game. He added that the players have baseball chapel service on Sundays.

While the team was unsure whether it would hold any similar services this year, it planned to have religious events next year with other faiths and denominations as well.

Asked if there were any complaints about the event, general manager Jeff Sedivy told USA Today, “Not at all. Not one.” He added that the Catholic Mass was the first religious event the team had hosted simply because Cougars media relations coordinator Shawn Touney, a Catholic, had the idea.

In a Friday interview, Ney told CNA that the event resulted from conversations Touney had with his friend Fr. Paul Fasano, a parochial vicar at Holy Cross Parish in Batavia, Ill. 

Talking about a possible outing for one of their youth ministries, the two wondered whether they could have a church service as part of the event.

“It just grew from there,” Ney reported, confirming that Fr. Fasano was the celebrant at the Mass.

Parishes were informed of the event by telephone, Ney added. Though youth ministries were the initial target of the promotion, senior citizens and others were well represented at the event.

Feedback about the Mass was “generally really good,” with many looking forward to attending a similar event next season. The weather provided “a beautiful afternoon with clear skies,” though the temperature was hot and the priest had to paperclip the sacramentary used during Mass because of a strong breeze.

According to an e-mail from Ney, Fr. Fasano threw the ceremonial First Pitch before the start of the game, in which the Cougars defeated the South Bend Silver Hawks by a score of 8-0.

Sports Charities hosts Fun Run/Ride Norbuck Park White Rock Lake

July 30, 2010

McKinney, TX (MetroCatholic) -Sport Charities, a Pro-life ministry is to host a “Fun Run/Ride” to be held at White Rock Lake’s, Norbuck Park this Saturday, July 31st.  The event will start at 7am.

Look for the Blue Ford Explorer with the Sports Charities sign on the side in the Norbuck Park parking lot. They will have bagels, juice, water and the NEW SHIRTS!!! The park is located at the corner of Northwest Hwy and Buckner Blvd.

They are planning a 9 mile ride around the lake, led by Steve Niles, a 1.5 mile walk and a 3 mile run.
Here are directions…
Directions from the Northwest Hwy:
Northwest Hwy turn South on Buckner Blvd. Exit E. Lawther Dr. Proceed to stop sign and turn left under Buckner Blvd. Parking lot is straight ahead.
Directions from Mockingbird Lane:
Mockingbird Lane to East side of lake. Go over Buckner and turn left on the service road. Park will be on your right.
Directions from the South:
Buckner Blvd. North. Exit Mockingbird Ln/Peavy Rd. Stay on service road past Mockingbird. Park is on the right.

Sports Charities was formed by Marc and Susan McKinney to help charities with their fundraising through sports activities.  Some of the charities benefiting  from Sport Charities events are Birth Choice, Catholic Pro-life Committee of Dallas and the White Rose Women’s Center.  Sports Charities offices are located in McKinney, TX. Marc and Susan became involved in the pro-life movement as prayer partners during the 40 Days for Life campaign in 2009. They are active in the pro-life committee of their parish, St. Gabriel the Archangel in McKinney. Their goal is to have a nationwide presence for the Pro Life Teams and help finance the many pro-life organizations in the U.S.

For information, contact Marc McKinney at [email protected] or 972-369-2400.  The clubs are open to all who are interested, of any or no religious faith; so invite anyone you know to run or bike for life!

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CatholicSportsNet to Provide “One-Stop Shop” for Catholic Sports Fans

July 27, 2010

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (MetroCatholic) – Many media outlets cover the booming industry of sports, but only one can lay claim to the sole reporting of Catholic sports – CatholicSportsNet.

Based in Louisville, Ky., CatholicSportsNet (CSN) is a new media company that recently launched its flagship entity – www.catholicsportsnet.com – a website that will serve as a national showcase for on and off the field achievements of male and female Catholic high school, collegiate, and professional student-athletes, teams, coaches, and administrators.

Serving nearly 1,200 high schools, 160-plus colleges, and over 70 million Catholic Americans around the country, CSN will provide up-to-date news, feature articles, student-athlete spotlights, national rankings, recruitment information, and a comprehensive multimedia unit that will include weekly newscasts, interviews, and streaming video.

CSN founder Steve Fehder, a 26-year broadcast veteran and entrepreneur, developed this concept after noticing a tremendous void in the coverage of local and national Catholic sports. A Catholic himself, Fehder believes CSN will satisfy the insatiable appetite of the rabid alumni and fan bases of Catholic schools and their athletic teams.

“What makes CatholicSportsNet unique from any traditional sports site, is that we are 100 percent dedicated to serving the ‘huge niche’ of Catholic sports and that Catholicism will be the underlying theme of all content,” Fehder said. “The tradition, the values, the alumni base, the success of athletes and programs across the country, and the incredible stories are what makes this venture so special.”

Joining Fehder’s team is author, writer, and former Louisville Courier-Journal sports editor Billy Reed. Member of both the U.S. Basketball and Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fames, Reed has written over 800 articles during a 29-year association with Sports Illustrated, and has penned over a dozen books pertaining to topics ranging from Freedom Hall to Paul Hornung to the world-famous Kentucky Derby.

“I’m excited to be a part of this new venture because it will embrace two things that are dear to me – high journalistic principles and positive stories about the sports world,” said Reed, CSN’s senior editorial advisor and consultant. “CSN should be the place to go for anybody interested in what’s happening with Catholic schools and athletes both locally and around the nation.”

CatholicSportsNet has other projects on the horizon, including the development of local and regional Catholic sports sites that will provide hyper-local coverage to the schools and teams of specific cities around the country. In addition, CSN plans to schedule a series of online “webinars” that high school and college athletes, coaches, and fans can attend virtually. They will feature and contain compelling topics and guest speakers who will educate and entertain the viewers.

CSN will offer a wide variety of marketing options for traditional advertisers, in addition to the opportunity for schools to put their campuses, programs, and achievements on display within the CSN College Roadshow – a resource that will give potential students a chance to learn more about educational opportunities at various Catholic institutions.

“From online to on the field, our goal is to be the leader in Catholic sports,” said Fehder. “Our team is extremely excited about the potential of (CSN) and looks forward to connecting with thousands of Catholics who share the same values and passion for sports. As we say at CSN, we are Catholic sports.”

CatholicSportsNet (CSN) is a media company that serves as an aggregator of news and producer of content pertaining to the overall achievements of Catholic high school and collegiate sports teams, student-athletes, and coaches. CSN houses nine employees in Louisville, Ky., in addition to a stable of national contributors and analysts. More information on CSN can be found at www.catholicsportsnet.com

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Vatican sports foundation criticizes FIFA for trying to ban religious expressions

July 20, 2010

Rome, Italy  (CNA) — The president of the John Paul II Foundation for Sports, Eddio Constantini, has severely criticized the president of the International Soccer Association Board (FIFA), Joseph Blatter, for seeking to prohibit religious speech during matches. Blatter’s action came after the Brazilian team huddled for a prayer at the conclusion of the Confederations Cup.

Constantini explained that “Blatter and the soccer federation Denmark are mistaken, it is an error to purge sports of those ethical values that the Christian faith and the Catholic Church have defended for centuries.”

His statements came in response to comments by the FIFA president about the Brazilian players huddling for prayer after their victory over the United States. He called their gesture “a danger” and said there was “no room for religion in soccer.”  Blatter has also promised he would prohibit any kind of religious expression during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Constantini said the comments by Blatter were not new and pointed to his “ultimatum” to the Brazilian team for a similar gesture after the 2002 world championships.  “I would argue that it is precisely the gradual abandoning of religious and ethical values that has been the cause of the moral degradation that is affecting soccer and sports in general,” he added.

“Only a revolution from below that is capable of training wholesome athletes and individuals will be able to restore the authentic meaning to sports that is under threat from violence, drugs, racism and money,” Constantini stated.

The John Paul II Foundation for Sports was launched in July of 2008.  Among its objectives is the organization of a triennial program of national and international sporting events focused on promote human dignity, especially among young people.

On that occasion Constantini said it was not coincidental that the launching of the Foundation coincided with the opening of the Pauline Year.  “In his letters St. Paul often refers to the Christian life as a sports race which at the end will be awarded with an imperishable crown.”

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World Cup built African unity and self-confidence, says Cardinal Napier

July 13, 2010

Pretoria, South Africa (CNA/EWTN News).- Interviewed by Vatican Radio on the significance of World Cup, Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of Durban, South Africa said that the event has served greatly to build a sense of unity both within Africa and the world community. He said that the legacy of the tournament will be that it has given the people of the continent the vision that they can do things for themselves.

Cardinal Napier said that the “first” and “most important thing” the World Cup did for South Africa was that it gave Africans a sense of belonging to the world community after having been in the spotlight for the month-long tournament. Reflecting on what that means for the continent, he said it “can only be to our advantage that we recognize ourselves as being an important part of the world community.”

The cardinal went on to comment that, as a result of hosting the greatest soccer tournament on the planet, “We believe in ourselves, we can see that we can do things, and we don’t have to wait for others to do them for us. And I think that’s going to be the most important legacy of the World Cup.”

In addition to the feeling of membership on a global level, the cardinal also recognized that the tournament had “brought about a sense of solidarity with other African countries,” being not only an event for South Africa, but “an event for Africa.”

He asserted that the tournament “will make a bigger impression on the unity of Africa than a lot of words by politicians could have ever done.”

Cardinal Napier also hoped that politicians would continue to work as hard as they did to make the tournament a success as they do on initiatives to improve health care and education in the country “when the focus of the world is not on us.”

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Dutch soccer player who scored winning goal against Brazil in World Cup is Catholic convert

July 8, 2010

Buenos Aires, Argentina (CNA) - The Argentinean daily La Nacion featured a story this week on the Dutch soccer player Wesley Sneijder, who scored the winning goal against Brazil in the World Cup quarter finals last week. The article revealed his conversion and baptism, which took place shortly before he traveled to South Africa for the tournament.

In an article entitled, “The Spiritual Goal of a Dutch Soccer Star,” journalist Mariano de Vedia said Sneijder arrived at the World Cup “completely renewed.”

“At the end of May he converted to Catholicism and was baptized in a chapel in Milan, where the brilliant soccer star plays for the Inter Soccer Team, receiving endless accolades.  He was influenced in his decision by his girlfriend, Dutch actress and model Yolanthe Cabau, who was born in the Spanish city of Ibiza and who he has decided to marry in the Church after the World Cup ends.

“He was also inspired by his friendship with Javier Zanetti, his teammate and captain for Inter, who is himself a practicing Catholic,” the paper explained.

Sneijder said that he had recently attended a Mass with his teammates and was moved to embrace the faith.  He signed up for catechism classes with Inter’s chaplain.

“In South Africa, he said he prays every day and goes to Mass on Sundays and receives Communion with Yolanthe.  He wears a Rosary around his neck that she gave him as a gift,” the article states.

“The faith gives me strength,” Sneijder said.  “My convictions often keep me strong and give me determination.  Everyday I pray the Our Father with her.  Before each game I always seek out a place to pray,” the soccer star added.

Sneijder’s Dutch team plays against Uruguay later today in the World Cup’s semi-finals.

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