My Time As A St. Luke’s Football Player

When I was asked to write about my experience playing football for St. Luke’s I was a little apprehensive at first, as I was not exactly sure what I was going to say.  But alas, my football career on the Hilltop is over just as quickly as it began and now all I can do is look back on years of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice.  I am the “go-to” football player in the school, as my life pretty much revolves around the sport and I’m always talking about the next opponent, so I feel that I have a pretty good take on what it means to play for the Storm.

I came into freshman year at St. Luke’s as a repeating ninth-grader who was a little unsure about the football program.  In my eyes, I was entering into a much smaller school that did not have a great reputation for football. Despite these worries, I found that the freshman class took practice more seriously and had a different approach than its predecessors.  I was able to make my mark early on the offensive line, but unfortunately I injured my knee only one game into the season and was done for the year.  The team struggled, finishing the year with a record of 1-8.  The atmosphere surrounding the team wasn’t a positive one; we were something of a laughingstock around school.  I vowed to myself that I would turn the team around, but I would need some help.  I knew my teammates would help me but I also got assistance from an unexpected source.  Before my sophomore year, Coach Brown brought the team into a meeting and told everyone that we would have a new assistant coach.  Now I thought it was probably just some guy out of college who thought he knew more than he really did, but then he said the name Jerry MacDougall.  I had remembered the name from years ago and I knew he had been around a long time and had won a lot of games, but I never realized how much of a presence he had.  The first time Coach MacDougall spoke to the team in the gym was when I realized that things were going to change for the better.  I could tell in his voice, his smile, and his mannerisms that Coach Mac meant business.  My sophomore year was a changing of the guard and the kids on the team took football much more seriously; we wanted to succeed, and the only area in which we needed help was with our shortcoming of experienced players, a commodity which other teams in our league had.  I mean, I had to start on both sides of the line at a generous 180 pounds, but Coach Brown and Coach MacDougall never lost faith; we won three of our first five games, including our homecoming game against Horace Mann.  Although we lost our next four games by a combined point spread of 120-34, the season was still a success–the school community realized the Varsity Football team was the real deal.

In the summer going into junior year I gained about 15-20 pounds from the time I spent in the weight room.  The buzz was building around the season because the team had much more talent than in years past.  We had a new name, new uniforms, and a new attitude about football.  We were not the laughingstock of the league anymore, and we proved any doubters wrong with a 25-7 win on a Friday night against Hopkins.  This was the moment where the team had announced its arrival, and although we lost our homecoming game in the closest game I ever played wearing a Storm jersey, our squad won the next five games by a combined score of 214-88, averaging 43 points per game.  This was unprecedented, seeing as we were usually never favored in a game and we now expected to win games by multiple scores.  Once again I started on both sides of the line and the culture of the team hadn’t just changed–it was established.  In just two short years we had gone from an embarrassment to something the school could take pride in.  We had an unmatched swagger, so infectious that it spread from the senior captains down to the freshmen.  After the season, the returning players were put in a bit of a dilemma, as it was up to the veterans to prove that we were not a just a fluke, and the team could sustain success.  My teammates and I were up to the challenge.

Finally, we come to this past season.  We brought in a bunch of new guys who could play and had only a few question marks coming into the season.  Unfortunately, Coach MacDougall was not physically able to be with us this season, but we kept his spirit and attitude throughout the year.  I knew we were going to be good this season; I didn’t know we were going to be this good.  I only played in about half of the full games, as the starters would be taken out due to our ability to blow teams out regularly. The 2011 Storm suffered one bad day all season, which cost the team from making a bowl game (even though we probably deserved the bowl). Despite this, the season was absolutely incredible as we not only went 6-1, but the players proved to everyone in the community that St. Luke’s football is here to stay.

Now, if someone were to ask you one word that describes Joe Bonaddio, I know a lot of you would say “football” or something football related, and I am proud of that.  I am proud that I am in the weight room all winter and summer just working to get bigger and better.  I am proud that I cry every single time I watch Friday Night Lights (the movie, not the stupid TV show).   Football has been my passion since I was little and I thought I might tell you why.  Football is the only team sport where you practice more than you play.  No sport brings guys closer together and forges stronger bonds than football, and since there is so much dedication needed to play, there is a ton of time to bond. It’s the ultimate team game where if one player screws up, the entire team does. St. Luke’s football has been a fond memory of mine, even if the team did go 1-8 my freshman year.  It was fulfilling to know that I was part of the St. Luke’s football turnaround with my teammates and got to experience something perennial powers like New Canaan and Staples will never experience: working hard to turn a program around from a pretender to a contender.  It’s still hard for me to realize that my football career is all over.  There is nothing like high school football, as boys turn into men for a common goal, and when I play in college I know it will never be the same.  I hope the legacy I leave will not be just that I went 6-1 my senior year, and 12-3 in my last two seasons, but I hope people remember the hard work that my teammates and I put into this program and remember Coach Mac (R.I.P.) and P.A.D.S.  I thank everyone for reading this and I hope that, when I come back down the road, the work that was put into the program will still be shown on the field.

-Giuseppe Bonaddio, Sports Correspondent

Posted by on December 2, 2011. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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