Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Alma mater loyalty beats hometown pride

A favorite memory of my freshman year in high school has me huddled with my girlfriends on wrestling mats.

It was Brian Piccolo Day and St. Thomas Aquinas High School was renaming the football field in his honor. As Brian's Song, the 1971 film with James Caan and Billy Dee Williams, played on a movie screen, we sobbed in unison.

It was 1975, and St. Thomas could claim two of America's most beloved athletes: tennis great Chris Evert and Piccolo, the Chicago Bears running back who died of cancer at age 26.

I'm a Raider, Class of '79, and I will go on record as saying that last December I sat on the St. Thomas Aquinas side of the field when my alma mater came to Largo High School to play in the 2007 state semifinals.

This is not to say that my heart wasn't broken for Brynn Harvey and Leonard Johnson when the Packers lost. My son aspired to play under Rick Rodriguez, for goodness sake.

But on that December evening, I had a chance to get a peek at legendary coach George Smith. Back in 1975, Smith was also new to St. Thomas Aquinas. In the last three decades, he's rolled up a win-loss record of 331-65.

I've got two words for my hometown of Largo: Be proud.

When the Packers venture into Brian Piccolo Memorial Stadium, they'll be running onto a field that has produced players like Daryl Porter of the Detroit Lions, Stefan Humphries of the Denver Broncos and Michael Irvin of the Dallas Cowboys.

The Packers also will be taking on a team ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today.

Another Fort Lauderdale native on staff here, columnist Bill Maxwell, has memories involving St. Thomas as well. His centers on St. Thomas' rivalry with his school, Dillard High.

"Dillard was the 5A powerhouse of the region, and wouldn't you know that St. Thomas and Dillard would play in a cross-division rivalry and St. Thomas, a 4A school, would always whoop Dillard. I finally just started cheering for St. Thomas.''

And what two words does Maxwell have? "Largo, beware."

Alma mater loyalty beats hometown pride 12/09/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 9:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst

    Business

    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  3. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 149, collapses buildings in Mexico

    World

    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 149 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]
  4. FHP seeks semitrailer truck driver that left fiery wreck on I-75

    Accidents

    TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an Interstate 75 crash that left another car burning on Tuesday afternoon.

    Troopers were looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an accident scene on Interstate 75 in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon that caused a car to catch fire. [Courtesy of Florida Highway Patrol]
  5. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.