The last sporting event ever in the Queen of Peace gym – followed by a two-hour Senior Night celebration for the girls basketball team – took place Thursday night in Burbank and it was an evening of cheers and tears.
Just two days prior, the players found out that the Queen of Peace community was about to be torn to pieces as the school is scheduled to close after this school year. The timing of the announcement was not great as the Pride is going through a historic season and entered this week’s action with a 25-1 record, including Thursday’s 73-33 win over Kennedy.
Look, I realize that this is going to affect a lot of people and not just the student-athletes.
I feel bad for any freshmen, sophomores and juniors who developed deep friendships that might be in jeopardy.
I feel bad for any student who has had their lives changed by some of the teachers and may not see their mentors again.
I feel bad for the teachers who have to scramble to find new jobs and new Principal Catherine Klod. This decision has practically reduced her to Principal-For-A-Day status.
But, I’m the sports guy and this is the sports section and I am also feeling sorry for the players who have to deal with all of this dread during a great season.
The basketball announcer at the Pride’s games, Pat Griffin, is a barrel of optimism that the school will not close. During the senior night celebration, he gave a rousing couple of minutes of yelling and trying to get everyone involved.
“I want you to write to Oprah Winfrey!” he bellowed to hundreds of parents and students. “I want you to write to Ellen DeGeneres! I want you to write to Gloria Steinem! To Jane Fonda…I know you young girls are looking at me because you don’t know them…but they are all people who are powerful women.
“You know what? There has to be a chance! There has got to be a chance! So I want everybody to do their homework and look up these names and write to them. Parents, play the lottery. Whatever you can do. Whatever you can do to save this for these girls. Right? Will you do that for me?’’
The sentiment was loud. But insiders quietly are highly doubtful the school will be opening back up again in August.
Senior Jessica Potter was a freshman at Mt. Assisi when the Lemont school closed down and she has some experience with the heartbreak of a school shutting the doors.
“It’s possible (to have Peace saved) but I’m trying not to get my hopes up that much,” she said. “We tried so hard to keep Mt. Assisi open but it just didn’t work. Maybe this will be the second chance.’’
In the event that doesn’t happen, there is one alternative happy ending that Potter and her pals who came from the shuttered Lemont school can offer to the Peace students who are feeling blue right now.
The next school might actually work out even better. It worked for them. The ex-Assisi students never knew how well things would have turned out at Mt. Assisi, but some of them do know their time at Peace was successful and fun.
“A lot of Peace students are upset because they don’t want to leave their friends from here,” Potter said “They want to try their best to go to the same school. The Mt. Assisi girls that came here are being really supportive and being there for them because they knew what they felt.
“After freshman year when I came here, I made a lot of new friends,” Potter said. “I feel like that’s going to happen to them. They will make new memories at the new school they go to.’’
If Peace cannot be saved, that would be something worth yelling about.