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We Are The Champions

October 12, 2014

Thirty years ago this month, I was a freshman in college at Lewis University. I wanted to play intramural flag football, but didn’t know many people at my new school who did. I signed up as an independent and waited for a team needing players to contact me. The call soon came and I was contacted by one of the leaders of a team called, as I recall, the Bruise Brothers.

The Bruise Brothers called a practice down behind Ryan Hall. I went and met my new teammates who lived in Ryan Hall. I soon learned that the team was primarily made up of young men who lived in Ryan Hall because they were novitiate Christian Brothers and that is where the novitiates lived. Ryan Hall was a nice quiet building for the men to live in Christian community, study and pray. They were very nice and welcoming to me.

We practiced on the field behind Ryan Hall. That field is now a woman’s softball field at Lewis, but at that time was a wide open large field perfect for football.

While practicing I saw another building to the east of the fields and Ryan Hall. I asked my teammates what that building was and they told me it was Cody Hall, a building where some of the Christian Brothers lived. I remember thinking to myself, after having just toured Ryan Hall, “that seems like it would be a great place to live”.

We went on to have a very good season. I played wide receiver. I was a very good quarterback, but the team already had a very good quarterback, so I filled the wide receiver role. I believe we won all but two games, and we went on to win the Bronze Division championship.

The night we won the championship we went back to Ryan Hall and celebrated. I remember the song “We Are The Champions” by the band Queen being played loudly over and over while we sang along. We were very excited and proud of our achievement.

Two years later I had applied to be a Resident Assistant (R.A.) in the dormitories. I was selected and hired to be an R.A.. The university had the prior year converted Ryan Hall from a novitiate brothers residence to a dormitory housing women. And this year I had learned that they were converting Cody Hall to be a dormitory too, housing men on two lower floors and women on the third floor And, to my good fortune, I was assigned to be an R.A. In Cody Hall, the same place I had thought two years earlier would be a great place to live. I was one of the first two R.A.s at Cody Hall. So, whether Cody Hall would be a great place to live was largely up to me.

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Entrance to Cody Hall

One of the things I did right away that year was to form a Cody Hall flag football team. We called ourselves the Cody Cardinals. We had a great bunch of young men and good athletes living there. That year I was our team quarterback. And we too went on to win the Bronze Division championship with an exciting finish that came down to the last play of the game. We were very proud of our achievement. Our success helped bond the young men living in Cody Hall as friends.

My time at Cody Hall over the next 2 1/2 years was some of the best times of my life. My R.A. Job was one of my favorite jobs in my life. And the friends I made there are still some of my best friends in life.

There is something wonderfully special about winning a championship and being a champion. I’ve had the opportunity a handful of times playing baseball and flag football. You never forget it, and it bonds you to those you do it with.

Unfortunately I’ve lost touch with the men of Ryan Hall who I won that first championship with. I could probably track down one or two of them through mutual friends if I wanted to, but most of them I will probably never see again.

Fortunately, I am still friends with many of the Cody Cardinals. I count some of them among my best friends. One was my brother, Michael. There was also my friends Vernon, Keith, Jim and Bill who I’m still close to. Others were Derek, Joe, Lloyd, Eric, Dominick and a couple of others.

We are all still champions. We always will be. And we reminisce about just that from time to time when we get together because, well…we are the champions!

 

P.S. When my firstborn son came along many years later, Cody’s mom (who had been an R.A. at Ryan Hall) and I named our son “Cody Ryan Novick” after the Cody Hall and Ryan Hall buildings we lived in when we met. And Cody Ryan…why, he’s a winner too.

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