St. Rita High School Appoints Roshawn Russell '08 as Head Basketball Coach

Chicago – Fr. Paul Galetto, O.S.A., Ph.D., St. Rita of Cascia High School's Head of School and Chief Executive Officer, has appointed current St. Rita Athletic Director, Roshawn Russell, M.B.M., a 2008 St. Rita alumnus, as Head Basketball Coach of the 114-year-old institution. Russell will also retain his position as Athletic Director. Russell will succeed Coach Gary DeCesare, who coached the Mustangs for ten years with an 182-110 overall record. Russell spoke highly of his time working with DeCesare. "He took our basketball program to new heights. We wouldn't be where we are today without him," Russell said.

Roshawn Russell ‘08, St. Rita Head Basketball Coach

Roshawn Russell ‘08, St. Rita Head Basketball Coach

Prior to becoming Athletic Director in July 2018, Russell served as an Assistant Admissions Director at St. Rita. Russell has extensive basketball coaching experience, including serving as the Assistant Men's Basketball Coach at Fontbonne University. Additionally, Russell enjoyed a very successful playing career on the hardwood. He finished his career with the North Park University Vikings ranked number one for career and season all-time free-throw-shooting percentage. He shot a career-best 88 percent from the line and a record 90 percent during his freshman year. He also ranks tenth all-time in total assists at North Park and scored 939 points over his four-year playing career. Russell is ranked seventh all-time at North Park for career three-point field goals, and ranks eighth all-time in career three-point percentage with 38.5%. Russell graduated from North Park University with a BA in Physical Education, and holds a Masters in Business Management from Fontbonne University. Coach Russell has served as St. Rita's Head Sophomore Basketball coach since September 2015, and has led the sophomore Mustangs to two 20+ win seasons and two Chicago Catholic League titles.

Russell attended St. Rita where he enjoyed a stellar prep career. He was a four-year starter for the basketball team and earned All-Chicago Catholic League Second Team honors as a junior and First Team as a senior, as well as All-Area honors from the Southtown Star. He was voted the team MVP his senior year and earned All-Tournament honors at the McGovern Classic. He averaged 18.7 points, 4.1 assists and 2.1 steals in leading the team to an 18-11 record his senior year. Russell also played in the Catholic League All-Star Game in the spring of 2008.

When asked about Russell, Fr. Galetto said, "St. Rita is in a strong position. We have premiere facilities and a great family atmosphere, which Coach Russell understands. His positive and competitive attitude, combined with his basketball knowledge is a winning combination. I'm excited to see his dynamic coaching style on the varsity level."

Russell is equally excited to step into this role, stating, "I've worked very hard to get to this point in my career, and I understand what it takes to succeed. I've been very fortunate to learn from some of the best coaches at every level. St. Rita and its basketball program had a tremendous impact on my life, and I am honored to be able to carry the tradition forward. This is the opportunity of a lifetime."

About St. Rita High School

St. Rita High School is a college-preparatory, Augustinian Catholic high school located on a beautiful 37-acre campus at 7740 S. Western Avenue on Chicago's south side. The all-boys St. Rita has a 114-year old tradition and legacy, is over 24,000 alumni strong and offers 15 athletic teams competing in the Chicago Catholic League and 32 clubs and activities.

Ritaman Austin O'Connor '17 named All-American for North Carolina!

Ritaman Austin O'Connor '17 named All-American for North Carolina!

Congratulations to Austin O’Connor, Class of 2017, on taking 3rd place overall at this year’s NCAA Wrestling Championship and being named an All-American, St. Rita’s first in school history! Read more below!

Matthews Stars for Michigan in Run to Title Game

By Tim O'Brien, The Beverly Review

Earning a three-seed in the west region of the NCAA tournament, the University of Michigan men’s basketball team was rolling.

The Wolverines had won via buzzer-beaters and blowouts, advancing all the way to the national championship game.

Photo courtesy of University of Michigan

Photo courtesy of University of Michigan

Then, it all came crashing down on April 2 in San Antonio; Michigan fell to top-seeded Villanova 79-62.

However, despite the obvious disappointment, St. Rita grad Charles Matthews just tried to take it all in.

“Playing in the national championship game, that’s a great learning experience,” Matthews said. “You learn a lot playing on that stage. You’re playing at the highest level of college basketball. We learned from it, and we hope to get there again next year.”

2nd Annual St. Rita Night At Sox Game Becomes New Tradition

St. Rita and the Chicago White Sox—two legendary south side institutions with intertwining histories. Both were founded in the first years of the 20th century. The White Sox were founded in 1901 and St. Rita started in 1905. Many students from the 63rd Street Campus fondly recall the Opening Day walk-a-thons from 63rd and Claremont to Comiskey Park at 35th and Shields. The walk-a-thon partnership was so strong that the White Sox granted tickets to St. Rita for the Opening Day of the New Comiskey Park in 1991, when the walk-a-thon originated at the new 77th Street Campus. St. Rita Hall of Fame member Ed Farmer ’67 was a standout pitcher for the Sox and is currently the Sox radio announcer. The histories almost seem more than coincidental. For instance, did you know that the last weekend of games for Comiskey Park in 1990 was also the last weekend that St. Rita Stadium at the 63rd Street Campus hosted a St. Rita Football game? Fr. Bernard Danber, O.S.A. ‘68 who was St. Rita principal at the time, remembers WGN-TV covering the significance of the simultaneous end of the line for the two iconic stadiums. Also, not-so-coincidentally, Fr. Danber is the White Sox chaplain. The Sox and St. Rita even have similar lines in their fight songs, with the Sox using "Go Go White Sox!", and of course, all Mustang fans know the line "Go Rita Go!"

Nick Schultz, Kevin O’Hara, Ryan Caulfield, and JP Hernandez perform the National Anthem before the Sox Game on Monday, April 23, 2018

Ernie Mrozek ‘71 Throws out first pitch

It just seemed right to revive and strengthen the St. Rita/White Sox partnership in 2017 with a St. Rita Night at the Sox game. That tradition continued this year with the second annual St. Rita Night at Guaranteed Rate Field for the Sox vs. Mariners game on Monday, April 23. The first 750 Fans purchasing tickets through a special link provided by the White Sox were given free co-branded St. Rita/White Sox Hats. Also, a portion of the proceeds was donated by the White Sox to St. Rita.

Before the game, the St. Rita Jazz Band, under the direction of KC Perlberg played the National Anthem and our very own Chairman of the Board Ernie Mrozek ’71 threw out the first pitch. The Sox even played a St. Rita video on the scoreboard video screen for the entire crowd to see. Needless to say, the Sox did not disappoint the St. Rita faithful, securing a 10-4 victory with hot bats on a chilly night over the Mariners.

82nd Annual St. Rita Alumni Banquet Draws Largest Crowd In Recent Years

"Once a Ritaman, always a Ritaman.” That sentiment was palpable on Friday, April 20, 2018 as St. Rita High School held its 82nd Annual Alumni Banquet and Hall of Fame Dinner. St. Rita’s Alumni Banquet is one of the longest-running alumni banquets in the nation. It can accommodate hundreds of guests on campus and its mystique is legendary.

The event was a major success as 500 Ritamen, their families, and friends of the school filled the gymnasium (which was transformed into a banquet hall), the McCarthy Center, and the Van Leuven Center.

This year’s man of the year was Ernie Mrozek ’71, who recently gave a lead gift to the “Champions Will Be Made” capital campaign to help fund the Mrozek Family Fitness Center and John McNicholas Baseball Clubhouse construction.

We also celebrated all Ritamen and welcomed back alumni from the Class of 1942 to recent graduates–and everywhere in between.

Our special anniversary classes, 1958 (60th reunion), 1968 (50th reunion), 1978 (40th reunion), 1988 (30th reunion) 1993 (25th reunion), and 2008 (10th reunion) were honored and celebrated as each class got together to share memories of high school and all the legendary events that took place in the hallways of St. Rita High School both on the 63rd Street Campus and the 77th Street Campus.

The event began with a cocktail hour at 6:30 p.m., which allowed all members to greet each other and enjoy hors d’oeuvres. Families and guests of our award winners and honorees gathered in a private reception in the school’s McCarthy Student Center and the Class of 1968 got together in the Van Leuven Family Research Center.

After thumbing through the 1968 yearbook and swapping stories, the Class of 1968 gathered for a class picture. Other groups had photographs taken as well, later in the night.

At 7:30 p.m., it was time for dinner! After seating all guests and their families, the Class of ’68 was welcomed into the gymnasium, by a standing crowd, with the St. Rita Fight Song performed by the mighty St. Rita Jazz Band. The class was seated front-and-center. While a fabulous, plated meal from Country House Restaurant was being served, everyone watched a 20-minute video presentation

The video presentation featured pictures and biographies of all St. Rita Alumni Banquet award winners, honorees and hall of fame inductees. Captured were the highlights and key moments of each Ritamen with pictures from their days as St. Rita students and pictures with family and friends. The video was a major high point of the evening for many of our guests, and is the capstone to the unique format of the banquet that has become the premier event for St. Rita graduates.

After the video and scrumptious dinner, everyone hit the bar for another drink and continued to enjoy one another’s company and revel in the fun of the night. The gymnasium transformed into a sea of Ritamen--young and old--getting reacquainted and showcasing the tight-knit, yet diverse community that is St. Rita alumni.

Thanks to all Ritamen who attended the banquet for making the night truly special. Thanks for the help of all St. Rita High School staff and the advancement office, and many others who contributed to the success of the night. We are already looking forward to the 83rd annual banquet.

Up next, mark your calendars for Friday, July 20, for our 43rd Annual Scholarship Golf Outing to be held at Gleneagles Country Club in Lemont, IL. All St. Rita alumni are welcome for 18 holes of golf, fun on the course, raffle and door prizes, excellent food and drinks packages, and much, much more! Online registration for the golf outing will be open soon, so check back often.

The 2018 St. Rita Alumni Banquet and Hall of Fame Honorees:

Man of the Year: Ernie Mrozek '71

Hall of Fame: Ted  Boundas '57, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia '74, Jeff Jestadt '88, Art "Buddy" Pauls '65, Jim Prunty (Hon), Charlie Yerkes (Hon), Mike Zunica (Hon) 

Loyalty Awards: Ray Bugal (Hon), Bob Fitzgibbon '68, Wally Slezak '68, Chuck Zeman '68

Athletic Awards: Kevin Downs '68, John Nee '93, Bob Wagner '93,

Honorary Alumni: Brendan Coughlan, Gary DeCesare, Al Grzyb, Joseph Kuska, Jr.