SAN BERNARDINO—The journey for the 2016 Aquinas football team began on a warm spring day and ended on a cold winter night at Aquinas High School with the Falcons falling to St. Anthony High School, Long Beach 33-32 in the CIF Southern Section Division 10 championship game.
Despite losing the CIF final, this year was a successful one for the Falcons, who posted a record of 11-3. The future looks bright for next season as they graduate only three seniors from the team. However, the program is about much more than football and that is what makes it such a success. The program focuses on faith, attitude, sacrifice and tradition.
The team becomes a family for the ten months that players spend late nights and early mornings together. They refer to their teammates as brothers and do things together that most teams do not have the opportunity to do. A typical week for the Falcon football family consists of hours of practice, lifting weights, sharing meals together, watching film, and singing after a win.
But most importantly, they come together in prayer at morning Mass and Wednesday evening chapel. The prayers do not end there. They pray before games, after games and any other time they feel the need. They often look to their Patron Saint, St. Thomas Aquinas, for inspiration. He has inspired them and guided them this year on an amazing athletic and spiritual journey the boys will never forget.
The players have also been guided by their coaching staff that has dedicated themselves to the team and treats the boys as their own. The staff truly believes in the players and has taught them how to be skillful on the field, but more importantly how to be God fearing men.
The boys are not given the option to take their academics lightly, nor do they choose to do so. The team’s average GPA for the first quarter this year was a 3.2. The players have high hopes of attending top universities throughout the country, with the team captain, Samuel Alvarez, having a goal of attending Notre Dame University.
The future is promising for these players, whether in football, academics, or another sport. The team has a strong class of juniors who are being recruited by big football programs throughout the country. You would never know, as they are humble and act as equals amongst each other.
As the players say each game before they take the field, “St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.”