Reflecting on the the Malvern football team’s trip to Chicago and a performance to remember in the season opener against Chicago’s St. Rita’s.
Imagine the opportunity to play at an NFL stadium as a high school student. For 64 members of the varsity football team, this was a reality.
The varsity football team traveled to Chicago from August 26 to August 30 to play St. Rita of Cascia High School at Soldier Field.
The trip began on Wednesday, August 26, following our team’s morning practice. After a seven hour bus ride, the buses pulled into Canton, Ohio, the birthplace of football, where the Hall of Fame resides. In Canton, we went to to dinner and watched film before going to the hotel.
Early on Thursday morning, we went to the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton for a walkthrough on the field. Later, we returned to the Hall of Fame for a demonstration on the evolution of helmets and a tour of the Hall. I was amazed at iconic casts of the members heads.
We left for Chicago from the Hall of Fame and we were there by night. Shortly after getting to the hotel, we gathered in one of the ballrooms for a last pre-game walkthrough. Coach Brady and Fr. Flynn spoke to us about preparation for the game.
Two men representing Siege Sports, a Kansas City-based jersey company, surprised us with new jerseys. We ended up wearing those jerseys for our game.
On Friday morning, the day of the game, we went to St. Rita of Cascia High School to celebrate the feast day of St. Augustine. Mr. Talbot, Mr. Algeo, Fr. Flynn, andy my brother, Rory Magargee ‘10, who volunteered at St. Rita’s last year, greeted us before Mass. We celebrated Mass in St. Rita’s chapel with the student body. Mass was a little more rowdier than a typical one at Malvern. Their chapel was enormous compared to that of Malvern.
After Mass, we had lunch at St. Rita’s and one last meeting in their auditorium before heading to Soldier Field
Once we were all set up in one of the locker rooms, we walked on the field in the stadium and posed for a picture in our new uniforms. Back in the the locker room, coaches and Fr. Flynn spoke with us. We went outside the stadium for our pregame warm up.
Once back in the stadium, we lined up for the National Anthem and a tribute to soldiers in WWII who were alumni of Malvern and St. Rita.
Kickoff was around 4 pm central time. The game ended by 7. The score: 37-0, Malvern.
Walking back out that tunnel and looking up to see 61,500 seats, we felt larger than life.
Most players’ families traveled to Chicago for the game. We had dinner with our families at Soldier Field after the game.
After the pressures of the game went away and everyone relaxed, some of the funniest moments of this trip took place.
On our final day in Chicago, we were released to our parents for a couple hours. Many families went to Navy Pier, the Nike Store, and Willis Tower. After regrouping, we left for South Bend.
Personally, I went to Navy Pier and took a boat tour around the city on Lake Michigan. The views were as incredible as Philly from the Art Museum.
We toured the University of Notre Dame’s football facilities on Saturday, highlighted by trips to their book store, locker rooms, walking on the field, and a Mass by Fr. Flynn. Alumni who currently attend Notre Dame joined us for Mass.
Notre Dame was the last stop on the trip and after a ten hour bus ride, we arrived home at Malvern at 11:15 PM.
Sure, the ride was far, but the ends justified the means. They say few things are sweeter than an opening win, but how about a 37-0 win in an NFL stadium?
The most memorable thing I took away from the trip was shaking hands with our Augustinian brothers after the game at Soldier Field. You could feel the truth, unity, and love in the air. Proving that all of us are really one body.
This trip was an awesome experience. Like so many things we take for granted, it is unique to Malvern. To be able to travel half-way across a country to win your opening game at an NFL stadium isn’t something any high school student will forget. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to go on this trip and I am very excited to get on with this season with my brothers, united by this unique experience.