“It is a great experience for the kids, the coaches, and for our school,” said a proud Athletic Director Mr. Kurt Ruch. The upcoming Chicago trip is one of the most notable and one of the longest distance for the football team in recent years.
“We have traveled to other states for football – we’ve gone down to Jersey to play, we’ve gone down to DC – but never this kind of distance where (the team) has to go and stay overnight,” said Mr. Ruch.
The varsity football team will travel to legendary Soldier Field to play the opening game, home of the NFL Chicago Bears. The stadium has a rich history as the oldest current stadium in the NFL with 90 years of operation.
The game is set for August 28th. Some may have concerns that the trip may be cutting close to the start of classes for the 2015-2016 school year. Mr. Ruch cleared up some doubt on that issue.
“It will definitely be before school,” he says. “They will be back in plenty of time.”
The players traveling to Chicago will be from 10th to 12th grade. “We are taking players from 10th to 12th grade, which I consider to be the varsity,” said Head Coach Aaron Brady. “We have a JV schedule, but everyone is on varsity.”
The team they are facing, the St. Rita of Cascia Mustangs, is a formidable opponent, but Coach Brady feels his team will be ready for the challenge.
“They are very solid,” said Coach Brady. “They put about 6 or 7 guys into Division 1 college football every year. It is a quality program. It will be a challenge for us, but we should be fine.”
During his last coaching job at Gonzaga College High School, Brady’s team played travel games similar to this one. So, he decided to do the same at Malvern.
Brady said he called all of the other Augustinian schools in the United States. Two of them got back to him, and one was St. Rita’s.
“They were supposed to play at Soldier Field, and the team that they were supposed to play didn’t want to play them anymore,” said Brady. “So, they went to the School Board of Chicago and the Chicago Bears and asked if they could play us, another Augustinian School from Pennsylvania, in this game, and they agreed to it.”
This game is one of 3 games to be played at Soldier Field that day, called the High School Football Kickoff. Traditionally, the game features some of the top prep and public school teams in the state of Illinois, but it was agreed to let Malvern football play.
The team will be staying in Evanston, Illinois near Northwestern University. Not all of the logistics are set in stone yet.
“We still don’t have the final costs of the busing and the hotel,” said Ruch. “We can expect it to be funded by the parents and some fundraisers as well,” said Mr. Ruch.
Both Ruch and Brady believe that this will be a great opportunity for the program and especially for the athletes.
Brady cited the camaraderie that teams build in travel. “You get to stay overnight and spend time with your friends,” said Brady. “However, there are certain rules that need to be followed.”
He noted that players develop maturity when they travel. “That experience of playing travel games is invaluable to young men when they go on to college,” said Brady. “There is a certain maturity that goes along with playing a travel game and staying overnight.”
Wide receiver Chris Brown ‘16 is worried that the long ride will derail the focus of the team. However, he is still excited about the opportunity. “We were given an amazing opportunity not many other people have,” he said. “We want to take full advantage of it by playing our best football and getting that first W to start the season off right.”
Lineman Justin Titchenell ‘17 noted the experience will help the team grow. “The season opener against St. Rita’s is going to be a great experience for the team to see what it is like to travel for a game.”
Ruch looks forward this unique season opener. “To go to another state and another city, in this case to play our brother school is an outstanding experience for our kids for years to come,” he said.