The Hendricken Hawks and LaSalle Rams football teams aren’t so different.
Both are led by coaching staffs that believe in preparing student-athletes for life outside of the lines of a football field. Both pograms have traditions deeply rooted in family, brotherhood and school spirit.
Each head coach is unique, caring and inspiring. Both men have an incredible support system sustained by assistant coaches that possess a keen knowledge of football, passion for athletic competition and mindfulness of how to relay their talents and skills to kids that remind them of themselves.
“Walking through the hallway to get ready for practice always fills me with a sense of pride and gratitude,” Hendricken Defensive Coordinator Mike Green said. “I never realized the sacrifice my mother made to send me here. Maybe that is why I appreciate the opportunity to coach here so much.”
Green and Hawks head coach Keith Croft are both Hendricken graduates. A 1985 Hendricken grad, Green fondly remembers how it all began. In April of 1981, a young Mike Green ran home to check the mail. That’s when the acceptance letters were scheduled to arrive.
“When I saw the thick envelope from Hendricken and read that I had been accepted,” Green said, “I instantly felt an overwhelming sense of joy.”
La Salle head coach Geoffrey Marcone has his father, assistant coach Dom Marcone, by his side to remind him of the foundation that got him started in the game. That’s the inspiration he uses as a tool to prepare other young minds for futures of their own.
“Our relationship is something that I cherish and enjoy,” Geoffrey Marcone said of his father. “Best memory of coaching with my dad was in 2008 when we won the State Title. It was not so much the title, but hugging my dad right after game and seeing how happy he was for me.”
A lot of what Geoffrey Marcone preaches to his players comes from the lessons he learned from his own father when he was in high school.
“To be part of LaSalle means being part of something bigger than yourself,” Marcone said. “I am very lucky to be here at La Salle. I feel like I walk on hallowed ground every day. So much tradition and community here. It is a special place.”
Of course both the Hawks and the Rams want to win on the field, but that’s not what their overall mission is all about. Coaches on both sides agree that being a football player means more than making tackles and scoring touchdowns. It’s about being an integral part of a community. It means representing that community in the best possible light.
“Being a Hawk means you are part of a brotherhood, a fraternal member, that regardless of your status in life you belong to something greater,” Green said. “It means you carry yourself with dignity, humanity and grace.”
“To me, being a Ram is something special,” La Salle Assistant Coach Adam Cacicio said. “As a Ram you carry the torch of all those that came before you.”
“We hope the game of football prepares our young men for life; in that they learn teamwork, cooperation and effort,” Hawks Head Coach Keith Croft said. “We have a saying around here about being a Hendricken man of character. We want our athletes to exhibit that in each phase of life.”
Cacicio believes that judging success solely through on-field accomplishments is a disservice to the young men they coach.
“We would like our players leaving La Salle saying that their time was not just about wins and losses, but how they grew as people.” Cacicio said. “We emphasize the importance of character and work ethic. We believe that a person that has exemplary character and puts out maximum effort in everything they do will be successful in any task they take on in life.”
“Each day we strive to be better,” Green said. “To win the day.”
“How you live your life will define you,” Rams head coach Marcone said. “We want to win games and championships no question, but that is only a small part of success. There is a lot more than just winning that makes a person or group successful.”
“Do we fail?” Green said. “Of course. But we never quit. We must continue to push forward, because there is always someone counting on us.”