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!
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.
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.”
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!"
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.
"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.