Reicher vs. Savio: An example of sportsmanship
By Burnie Cook
It was a traditional Texas high school football Friday night. The weather was windy and overcast. The stands at McNeil High School’s football field in Austin filled quickly for the game between Reicher Catholic High School in Waco and St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School in Austin.
Reicher Catholic High School is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary of opening their doors, while St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School in Austin opened five years ago. All the fans sat on one side of the field, so at times it was harder for some to decide which team they were pulling for, and perhaps no one was more torn than Orlando Florez.
He is the athletic director at St. Dominic Savio High School, and a Reicher alumni who once played for current Reicher Athletic Director and Head Coach Mark Waggoner. Waggoner has coached at Reicher since 1989 and has been the school’s head football coach and athletic director since 1996.
“I had the privilege of coaching Lando in 1989. From that experience I formed the opinion that Lando would be a great leader,” Waggoner said.
Sportsmanship is something both men wish to instill in all their athletes – no matter what sport they play.
“Sportmanship is defined in your attitude towards how you compete. Playing with your heart, mind and body, while being able to perform with a sense of respect for yourself, your teammates and those you compete against,” Florez said.
Savio coaches Leonard Estrada and Yogi Beitia also graduated from Reicher. Estrada was impressed with the competition between the two schools.
“For me having been on both sides of the sidelines … brings a tremendous pride for each school. We need more rivalries like Reicher vs. Savio as people can see the Catholic spirit and how two schools can compete and respect each other and fill our hearts with great sportsmanship,” he said.
Beitia said it was great to be a part of the “friendly competition.”
“Then being able to have both teams come together afterwards and give thanks to God for the opportunity” was a great aspect of the game, he said.
Morgan Daniels, the principal of St. Dominic Savio, said he hopes to establish a great new Savio tradition with a school, such as Reicher, that shares Savio’s faith and values.
“Reicher has established a great sports and football tradition and we can learn a lot from their positive example. My hope is that this grows into a friendly rivalry,” he said.
The atmosphere for the game was that of friendly rivalry and sportsmanship. During half-time, the Savio cheerleaders invited middle schoolers onto the field to do the “Chicken Dance,” which the fans enjoyed especially when one Reicher Cougar mascot joined them. Many parents commented how wonderful and fun the game was and enjoyed the fellowship.
Following the game, handshakes were exchanged at midfield, and both teams huddled together with words of encouragement and thanks given by Joe Gutilla, Savio’s head coach. The evening concluded with both teams praying the Our Father while players placing a hand on an opposing team member’s shoulder.
It was a close game throughout but Reicher came away with the 13-6 victory.