SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — It has been quite a year to remember in the weather department. Blizzards last winter, a tornado and earthquake this summer. And now the area is bracing for an impending hurricane.
The key to getting through our adversity has been our sense of community. And no community has set a better example for all of us than the Cathedral high school community.
They also say the true measure of a team is not how they do in the good times, but rather how they react in the tough times.
And when it comes to teamwork, the Cathedral football team has taken its game to the next level.
“I can’t even explain how much better it is and how much better it feels to play with about 60 kids out here. We’re starting with a lot more players, hopefully we’ll get a lot more wins.”
The logo on the helmet is the same. The purple jerseys worn by the players are the same. But this years Cathedral Panther football team is a completely different animal.
Because of shrinking numbers Cathedral formed a co-op with Holyoke Catholic and Sabis to form one high school football team.
Cathedral lost its school, all of its equipment, and its home field because of the tornado. Holyoke Catholic and Sabis get to play football this season, so it was a win-win situation for all three schools.
“Without this coop we probably wouldn’t have a team,” said Cathedral senior captain Tom Cardone.
“Seeing all these guys that are left from last year on Thanksgiving. I think we had 12 or 13 guys who could actually play in the game without injury. So seeing all these 60 kids out here is just really special to us, the coaches, everybody in the program.”
“I had a big smith on my face,” said senior captain Quincy Smith. “My AD came up to me and said, “Hey Quincy guess what, we’re going to have football at Sabis.” I was shocked, and so I was excited.”
Bill Rollins is in his first year as Cathedrals head football coach, “Our coaching staff is going to work tremendously hard this year to make sure this is a good feeling and a good coop for these young men.”
“Kids from Sabis have never had football, and Holyoke Catholic hasn’t had it in several years. So it’s a great opportunity for everybody involved.”
The Cathedral football program has received a lot of help on the long and winding road back that its had to travel.
A-I-C is letting the team practice on its field. The Panthers will play their home games at Chicopee Comp. And the shiny new equipment was made possible in part with the help of donations.
The excitement and anticipation that Cathedral’s football program is experiencing is a far cry from last years season ending Thanksgiving game against Westfield. That day Cathedral finished its season with just 14 players on the field.
“We had 14 kids at the end of that game playing against Westfield with 80 kids on the sideline,” said Tom Cardone, president of the Cathedral Booster Club.
“The band was 200. The kids went out there and played. If they gave up that day, or gave up that week, we wouldn’t have a football program.”
“So this year is kind of a rebuilding year, said Tom Cardone, Jr. “But also time to make some changes and win some games.”
“It’s my senior year so a lot of the changes I’m not really happy with it,” said Nick Day. “We just gotta deal with it. And playing football takes my mind off of it.”
Just like the other high school football teams in Western Mass, Cathedral will continue to prep for their season opener.
The new look Cathedral Panthers will host Ludlow on Saturday September 10, on their new home field at Chicopee Comp high school.