So How Is the Smallest School in 4A Doing?

by Dr. Joseph D. Hollowell, 2 yrs ago

Those of you who have read this column regularly over the past 20 years know that I have written about athletics only a couple of times. I usually write about some other aspect of school life that people do not necessarily know much about. High school athletics gets more than its fair share of press coverage, most people know of our traditions of winning championships in a wide range of sports, and I try to focus on some of the areas of school life that might be less familiar to people. However, the performance of our amazing student athletes and coaches over the past year deserves our attention!

Every two years the Indiana High School Athletic Association determines the classifications of schools for state tournament purposes based on each school’s enrollment. In April 2011, we were informed that Roncalli had earned the dubious distinction of being the smallest school in 4A. Had we had two fewer students we would have stayed in 3A. However, this new classification put us with the largest schools in the state - quite a few with enrollments two and three times our size and a few, like Ben Davis and Carmel, with over 4,500 students! It was surely going to be a case of David versus Goliath every time the Rebels would participate in any state tournament in volleyball, basketball, softball, and baseball.

So what do we have to show for 18 months of competition against the biggest schools in the state? Our girl's volleyball team got us started by capturing the school's first ever 4A Sectional Championship in the fall of 2011. Our boy’s basketball team continued the 4A excitement that same year with a pulsating overtime victory over the highly ranked Cathedral Irish in what was surely the toughest basketball sectional in the state of Indiana. Then last spring our girl's softball team, after winning Sectional and Regional championships, made it into the final four of the state tournament beating the biggest schools in the state along the way. Our boy’s baseball team then won the Sectional, Regional, and Semi-state Championship to advance to the State Championship game before losing a scintillating pitcher’s duel by a score of 1-0. This winter it was time for our girl’s basketball team to get into the action. The season that they just completed saw our girls beat Cathedral and #1 Lawrence North to win the sectional, #5 Brownsburg and #9 Mooresville to win the Regional which set the girls up for a Semi-state final with undefeated Bedford North Lawrence. The Lady Rebels came away with a gut-wrenching overtime loss to the eventual state champions. Taking nothing away from Bedford North Lawrence, but had we not had to play on their home court in front of 5,000 of their fans, I am going to go to my grave entertaining myself with the thought that we easily win that game on a neutral court. Congratulations to Coach April Schilling and these outstanding young ladies on a
fantastic season! 

Are you detecting a pattern here? Our student-athletes and coaches have been nothing short of inspirational. Major congratulations go out to our students, coaches, and our entire Athletic Department. I am especially proud to work with Dave Toner who has provided such strong leadership to all of our athletic programs. Congratulations and thanks are also in order for our parents as well. They have sacrificed so much in giving their time by coaching these kids when they were younger, transporting them to practice, paying for camps and training sessions, and making all of the other sacrifices that go into supporting their children. 

Most importantly, I am thankful to our families who have instilled in our student athletes habits of discipline, sacrifice, an unrelenting work ethic, and a refusal to submit to the odds. Such a high level of commitment to achievement has been one of the qualities that has kept me continually inspired by my work here at Roncalli. Our students and their families keep amazing us all with the non-stop push for excellence in all pursuits - academics, athletics, the arts, and Christian service. It makes for a dynamic environment in which students can grow and learn. It also leads to the multiple forms of national recognition that we have earned over the past two decades. 

Our students are truly being prepared for life - both here and for eternity. I am a blessed man to be at such a wonderful school! 

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