Over a year ago on March 16, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced all schools would be closed following the imminent threat of the coronavirus disease. Although the shutdown was originally to only be 10 business days, the virus continued to spread and forced Wolf’s hand into keeping schools closed for the foreseeable future. This included Cathedral Prep, which had many major events canceled, such as the Prep Class of 2020 graduation.
One of the most popular events that had to be postponed due to the outbreak was Spirit, Mind, and Body Day, more popularly known as Sports Day. The day is an event where all four classes of Prep, from freshmen to seniors, compete against each other either individually or together in different sports competitions. The winner of the most events don’t quite receive a physical prize, but they do get sweet class bragging rights.
Planning for the big day was led by Prep’s physical education and health teacher, Mr. Mitch Schreffler. Coach Schreffler said that the preparations began in February, of course, with the regular COVID-19 regulations in place.
“We began preparing at the end of February when we found out that we were going to host the event,” Coach Schreffler said, “so we began to discuss what it might look like this year with the pandemic.”
Even with the shadow of the current state of the world in the pandemic, Mr. Schreffler and his team were determined to go through with the events’ plans while also keeping students safe.
“At first it was tough to see how it would look and where we would be with our COVID protocols,” Mr. Schreffler said, “As the event approached, my staff and I felt better and better about the event as new protocols and vaccinations were rolled out.”
This careful determination caught the eye of Prep and Villa’s Vice President of Academics and Student Affairs, Mr. Will Pituch.
“Mr. Schreffler and the team of faculty that put together the day are outstanding human beings through and through,” Mr. Pituch said. “It is a monumental achievement, especially running on short notice. We typically start planning for the day in January or February, so getting into this in earnest in late March to early April was a tall order to say the least.”
In years past, Sports Day was usually held around different areas of the Hagerty Family Events Center. However, due to renovations being made to the football field, the event could not be held there. Fortunately, Mr. Schreffler was able to get use of Gannon University’s Rec Center, McConnell Family Stadium, and the volleyball court next to Finnegan Hall.
“In order to gain permission, our administration team contacted Gannon’s Rec Center to see about hosting our event there and they were on board,” Mr. Schreffler said, “Once we received their approval, we would touch base from time to time to see the progress each was making. Overall, their staff was great to work with, and I would host Sports Day at their facilities again if we needed to.”
Some different sports students played in consisted of pond hockey, kickball, soccer, flag football, dodgeball, four-square, spikeball, cage ball, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, and cornhole. Students also could participate in non-contact activities, such chess and video gaming, particularly Call of Duty. Whatever activity students chose to participate in, Mr. Schreffler and Mr. Pituch were both happy and grateful that students could enjoy themselves on an active day out of the classroom. Both of them described the day with the same type of term: it just felt “normal.”
Mr. Schreffler said, “[My favorite part of the day was] all the smiles on the students faces and all the ‘thank you’s’ I received from the students throughout the day. I’m grateful that we were able to have Sports Day for the students. It was a day that had a more ‘normal’ feel to it.”
Mr. Pituch added, “I was very excited to have some more ‘normal’ for the end of this school year, especially with Sports Day. I was a little concerned having to be down at Gannon, but the space was awesome.”
Another feature that is often forgotten about with Sports Day. Three terms are used to describe the day’s true meaning: spirit, mind, and body. The message is that while the day is meant to remind us that although we definitely focus on exercising our physical bodies, we must be attentive to treat our spirit and mind with the same respect. This comes back to understanding faith in Prep for spirit and also our mental health in the mind.
When asked about how the day started and how the event related to Prep’s Core Values, Mr. Pituch said, “I think the kick off to the day was excellent. Keeping in mind the Core Values of the school was essential and great to see and the way the Campus Ministry Team and other student volunteers worked in spirit and mind was a great add. We all need to take care of our whole selves as well as each other. I was very proud of all those involved.