Local television and print media, St. Rita students, faculty, staff and parents all gathered in the St. Rita Shrine Chapel for the start of the school day on Friday, February 26, 2016. After a successful kickoff of the St. Baldrick's pediatric cancer fighting effort by the student government and Pat Mac's Pack organization, Coach Todd Kuska took the podium to introduce one of St. Rita's most beloved alumni--New England Patriot Darius Fleming '08.
Darius was in town to present St. Rita with a commemorative 50th Anniversary Super Bowl Football from the NFL. Each high school that has produced a player or coach that appeared in a Super Bowl is receiving a football. After he famously recovered a muffed punt in the AFC Championship Game, Darius appeared in Super Bowl XLIX with the Patriots on February 1, 2015.
Darius' remarks to the student body started with a humorous story about a fisherman and his faith--reminding Ritamen that God lives in us and we bring God to others through our good and rightful actions--even when others aren't looking.
On the wall, above the lockers in the academic wing of St. Rita High School is a quote from legendary coach John Wooden: "The true test of a man's character is what he does when no one is watching." Doing the right thing and putting others before yourself are actions that are instilled in Ritamen during their four years here.
Darius Fleming is a fine example of this philosophy. You see, on January 14, 2016 Darius was driving in Massachusetts and came upon a truck/car accident. Darius rescued a woman from a car by breaking out the window. During this incident, he cut his leg and subsequently received 22 stiches in his leg. Two days later, on January 16 Darius played in the Patriots' Divisional Playoff victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Darius never sought attention from the incident, in fact he kept quiet about it. When details emerged, several news media outlets questioned the truth of the incident. In the end, it all worked out; witnesses came forward, a police report emerged and the truth came to light--Darius did indeed help a woman to safety and selflessly risked his own safety in the process. Something we at St. Rita never doubted, Darius has the character of a true Ritaman. One reporter for an out-of-town paper even told St. Rita, "Darius is too humble for his own good." In response, that reporter learned that we at St. Rita feel the best leaders let their actions speak for themselves--just like Darius.
As Coach Kuska says, "Darius is a great football player and athlete, but he is an even better person."
Darius credits Coach Kuska and Fr. Tom McCarthy '83 as influential people during his time at St. Rita and said, "I'll always be thankful for the things I learned and experiences I had at St. Rita."