Your Thoughts on Catholic League Closings . . .

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  At the end of 2009-10 school year, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia closed North Catholic,
Dougherty and Kennedy-Kenrick. Now, West Catholic, Monsignor Bonner and Conwell-Egan
are slated to close at the end of the 2011-12 school year.
  We welcome your sports-related thoughts, memories, etc., on these schools.
  Please send to Thank you.

  That's very sad news to hear about NC & Dougherty.  I can't imagine Thanksgiving without FKD & NC and at my age no substitute game would suffice.  Oh well like they say all good things must come to an end.
-- Al Ford

  Really shocked to hear about CD & one time two of the largest parochial schools in the country; CD had close to 6000 kids in the mid 60's. I  played against CD in '57 when they only had jr's, no seniors. I played for LaSalle and knew many of the kids from CD.....Dave Fecak, Jack Shepper are a couple I remember. I guess Judge, Ryan, and maybe Roman will try to absorb the kids from these schools......I guess the $5100 tuition is the reason for the drastic drop in enrollment. Too bad; hate to see the history of the PCL suffer this loss.
-- Ed Birchler, La Salle HS 1959
  I graduated from North in 1988. I always look forward to the North/Frankford game, especially it's inevitable description of being the "granddaddy of Thanksgiving rivalries".  What would it take to have the game moved to the Linc this year?  I know they played at the Vet once . . . It's sad news that North is closing, but filling the Linc would be a great way to say goodbye.
-- Kevin Hutt
  i can not believe north and cd are closing. it was a sad day yesterday i have ties to both schools, for one im an nc grad played football there coached wrestling and football for several years now im an assistant coach at cd we are having a good season this year. now all of this, im hoping that the respective alumni bases from each come out of the word work and do something about this , im gonna keep hope that we can stop this from happening. if not we are losing two schools with rich tradition and great historys. thanksgiving will never be the same for me ive been invloved one way or another with the north frankford game for 15 years, i think if the school is closing they need to move the game maybe franklin field?
-- jim whitehead jr  nc 1998

  What a shocker! Both my sons went to north, sean 2004 and chris 2008. this years thanksgiving day game will end one of the cityís great traditions. we should try to find a place large enough to hold all who want to attend. Long live the falcon.
 we are nc   we are nc    wa are nc
-- john james

  As a wrestling fan above all the loss of the storied tradition at North really hurts; such great memories from the mat men in red! The school may close, but North's wrestling legacy will live forever.
  And their gym, of course ... Wood-North wrestling in the Pit was one of the PCL's great events in any sport.   I liked going to Dougherty and going through a usually-busy cafeteria to get to the gym.
Brad Wilson

  As a St. Martin of Tours grad the option well there was no option it was to go to North. I however, decided I wanted to go to Dougherty. Without a doubt one of the best decisions I ever made. Despite not winning much in football or baseball when I played there was a rich sense of tradition and pride at CD. We knew about the history and we respected it. I gained friends and created bonds with people from all neighborhoods and from all races. Today I went over to CD to see what was going on, much to my surprise there was a huge turnout for a Friday afternoon soccer game. It showed me once again the CD pride that sadly will come to an end in June. I urge everyone to enjoy these last couple months and take in as much as they can. Support CD and North and never let the traditions die. Once that happens then CD and North truly will die, donít let this happen! One of my fondest memories at CD and saddest was the night I received a phone call hearing one of my fellow football players died. I remember the sadness at first, but more fondly I remember the way the team rallied around each other. The team wasnít very good but we were a team and I will take that with me through all my days. I hope people start to understand over the next couple of days the rich traditions that will no longer be at these two fine schools We hail Cardinal Dougherty High!
-- Jon Swing '07

  This is a very sad time with the announcement of the closings. Both of the schools have great sports traditions and have giving Philadelphia some outstanding young men and women. The alumni of both schools will always have the memories and I hope that no more schools will closed.
I want to thank everyone that played for Dougherty and North.
You didnít let your school down, the Cardinal and the Bishop did.
-- Dennis W. Hill
Secretary of the Markward Basketball Club
North Catholic- 1967
I am deeply saddened by the closing of  North Catholic.  I was  taught by the same priests, The Oblates of Saint Francis de... Sales, although I went To Father Judge and the great rivalry we had with them and the many friends I had at North through sports . And also I must add the great education thousands of boys received at both schools Judge & North  I can't believe this  happening I will surely miss all the interaction I had with my friends at North Catholic  Go Falcons. You will never be forgotten.
Yours In Sports
-- Bob Dillon, "Judge 1960"
p.s. -- It goes without saying I am also saddened with the closing of Dougherty. Through the years I have met some great people from there as well.
  As a 2001 Dougherty graduate, I am honored to have been a part of the Catholic League and a Northern Division Championship in '00. Itís sad to see Dougherty (and North) closing! I hope there is still an opportunity for a miracle but realize there probably is not. I pray (literally) that Dougherty has a memorable season!
-- Mark Seidenburg
Asst. Men's Basketball Coach
Dickinson College

 It is very sad when two of the most famous schools in our world are closing. As a CD alum, I was devastated to hear that this announcement was made on my birthday. If they only lower the tuition, these two schools could remain open and gain more students. CD was still the largest school in the country in the '80s. As far as North, I am very saddened by their closing too. I can remember attending basketball games at "The Pit" and having a great time with the rivalry between the Cardinals and Falcons. "We are CD" will always live forever! My prayers and thoughts go out to all alum and current family of CD and North.
-- Dennis T.J. Wynder
Cardinal Dougherty High School
Class of 1981 (Silver Anniversary Graduating Class)

  The news of the closing of North Catholic was sad to hear. It was a very special time in my life. What I learned and the guidance I received has and  continues to be  been a great influence on me. I can say the 4 years I  spent were most memorable. Just recently we had our 40th reunion. Seeing guys you had not seen was great but most important sharing a bond with them was most important.  To see the young men talk about the closing of their school says was moving. I believe you have to be a graduate to appreciate their sentiment. The building might go empty but the spirit will live on.
-- Bill Dugan, class of 1967
  Very sad news about the closing of North and Cardinal Dougherty.  I grew up in Levittown, PA and graduated from Bishop Egan, Class of 1973.  I have a brother who graduated from LaSalle High in 1967 and another brother who graduated from Egan in 1969.  My brother, Mark, played football for LaSalle and my brother, John, now deceased, played in the band for Egan.  Being the youngest brother who idolized my older brothers, I remember going to all their games and competitions.  Dougherty always had the best band and you knew it when they came into the stadium for a game or a competition.   It was a great time to grow up and attend many games at Lincoln HS when we played North and to Cottman and Algon when we played Dougherty.   I'll always remember the great games and the great crowds that attended high school football back in the 60's and early 70's.  However  by the time I graduated you could start to tell the glory days were starting to fade.
  Though Egan  generally beat both schools in football, basketball was another matter!  I don't think we ever won a game against either of them!  They had such great talent.  But for a kid growing up in the suburbs, going into the city for regular season games or to see games at Franklin Field and the Palestra was the greatest thrill for me.  It's something my friends from public school at Pennsbury or Neshaminy just couldn't understand.
  During football season while I was in grade school at Immaculate Conception, I could not wait until Sundays at 2:00 p.m.  I was a hyper kid and sitting still during Mass on game day was not easy!   The whole family would decorate the car in either blue and gold for LaSalle or blue and gray for Egan and we'd drive down 95 or the Roosevelt Boulevard to the games. I even had relatives come down from North Jersey, they loved going to the games with my family.
  When I finally reached high school I got to take one of the buses the school would rent and a dozen or more of them, packed with cheering teens, would make their way to the game.  When North and Dougherty came to Levittown, the SEPTA buses would line up for what seemed a mile.
  Then, in the winter, it was Fridays and Sundays for basketball.  I had the best time and will always cherish the memories of watching great athletes compete for their school in front of hundreds of cheering fans.  And the streamers thrown after the first basket was a great North tradition!
 I feel sad for the alumni of both great schools.  I suspect it won't be long before my alma mater and others will meet the same fate. Times change but we can all hold on to the good memories and friends we made and fondly remember a simpler time when school spirit mattered. And that spirit was never shown better than by  the schools in the Philadelphia Catholic League.
-- Joe N

  As a North grad, I was very sorry to hear of McFadden and Rigali decision to close both of the schools.  Both schools are rich in tradition and have deep roots throughout the Philadelphia region.  I would hope that the respective alumni pressure the archdiocese to reconsider or at least allow the two communities to come up with alternatives.
  Both schools can take great pride in the sports heritage, this will be a great loss to the Phila. Catholic League.  I have so many memories of Cardinal Dougherty, their unbelievable band, great sports program. (stopped NC soccer streak at 118).  The first soccer game I attended as a youngster was the PCL  championship, North vs. Dougherty which was decided on corner kicks.  Just a real good school that served its' community well.
  These schools still provide a safe haven for kids to learn and grow.  Where will these 1,200 kids go.  They deserve to be preserved.  I would also issue this warning to the rest of our Catholic High Schools, that if this stands your school could well be next.  If these closings are inevitable, I can only say " Well done good and faithful servants"
Tenui nec demittam
Bob Reardon NC-65
  I graduated from North Catholic in 2003. Iím pretty sure it is safe to call me a stereotypical Philly guy, going on to graduate from Temple in 2007. Since that time, I have moved to Chicago and have made several dear friends in another great city. The ironic part about my story is all of these friends I have made have said to me at least once, :you talk about your high school a lot, sounds like a great place". When I hear this comment my response, is always better than great. North is just one of those places in which I always feel at home no matter how long it has been since Iíve graduated. I come home to visit friends and family often, however I donít feel it was a productive trip "home" unless I stop in and see remaining faculty that has shaped me into the man Iím today. If there is no time to stop in, I at least drive past (a couple times for that matter) because of the incredible memories I have at North. I would like to apologize to current students, faculty, and administration who will be looking elsewhere next year. It was however a great ride and I hope you all feel comfortable being apart of the NC family forever!
-- John Paffen
  I am a 1991 graduate of CD and it is very sad to hear that our school will be closing at the end of the school year. I made so many friends during my four years at Dougherty. I played football throughout my years at CD, we were never the best of our league but we were very competitive each week. One thing that our football teams had was CD PRIDE. I was the first quarterback of a new era (Coach Dominic Damico) and our first win was against his Alma Mater North Catholic. I was also a football coach at Dougherty (2004) and at North Catholic (2007). Its sad to hear that both programs will be gone after all the years.
-- Derrick Norris
  From my playing days @ Wood and since I have moved on to coaching CYO and helping out @ Wood, Coach Heirmerdinger was always a coach I admired. I knew his team was going to be prepared and always play hard. I also knew that he was going to make the adjustments needed in order to put his players in a situation to succeed. The thing I admired most was how he cared for his players and served as a father figure and role model to many of them. I know several people who have played for him who truly love him as a person and coach He gave them self confidence and a sense of accomplishment and pride. Aside from the entertaining interactions with the officials, Coach H will be truly missed in the Catholic Lg. In my opinion I thought Mark and Bernie Rogers were the two best coaches I played against and saw Coach while I played in high school. If there was one guy I could Coach under (aside from at Wood) in the area it would be Mark. If there was one I could have played for (except Wood) it would without a doubt would have been him. I wish you the best of luck @ Fels. I knew with CD closing you would probably look to stay in coaching, Best of luck Coach.
-- Blair Klumpp
Wood '02

  I graduated from Dougherty in 1974. I remember in the early 70's we had a lot of great soccer games against North Catholic but the most memorable game I remember attending was a basketball game at the Palestra. I can't remember if I was a junior or senior but that year North Catholic went undefeated in the Catholic League Northern Division. I believe Dougherty made it to the playoffs as a fourth seed with North being the top seed. The signs around the school were "16 and Oh (0) and down they go! The game was close but we beat them in the last few seconds of the game! I remember moving down closer to the floor as the game was ending. After the last shot was made I sorta slipped down a few stairs and landed in a pile on a few of my friends laughing hysterically all the way. Great stuff. Thanks.
-- Bob Farnan
Bensalem, Pa.

  on saturday we played carroll it was our homecoming game, while this probably was not a marquee matchup, and carroll beat us 28-6 . the reason i'm writing to you is the class that the whole carroll football program showed after the game. as you know with the recent events this was our last home game (homecoming ever).. carroll's head coach dan bielli asked our head coach jim grugan if he and his players could stand with us while the team and fans sang the alma mater. that to me is the ultimate sign of respect for our kids, program and school . I wish there was more of this that went around in sports. thanks again
-- jim whitehead jr., assistant coach at dougherty

  There is so much to remember about Dougherty. The crowded hallways, the enormous bathroom in the cafeteria, the great soccer teams of the 1970s and the fact that many of us can say with pride that we once attended the largest Catholic high school in the world.
What I will remember, though, are the 27 Dougherty grads who lost their lives in Vietnam. Only Edison (54) lost more than Dougherty. Judge also lost 27 in that awful war. The only Medal of Honor recipient from Philadelphia, Cpl. Michael Joseph Crescenz is a Dougherty grad (Class of 1966). Then, of course, there is Officer Chuck Cassidy, another Dougherty grad who laid down his life defending the City of Philadelphia. That's what I'll remember most about Dougherty. How most of us started out as goofy kids and turned into pretty good citizens. That's what CD Pride is all about.
-- Terry Toohey
Cardinal Dougherty Class of 1975

  Iím writing in response to an article you did on Doughertyís closing.  It is very sad that this school where I learned soo much about being a man (coach George Stratts) and a teammate (Rodney Walker) is now closing.  However what I remember the most are the people that spent time in the building and on the ball fields.  Itís the relationships with coaches, teachers, teammates and administrators that made my experiences at Dougherty so fruitful.  CD was the place that provided the springboard for the upcoming phases of my life; the values and discipline that would serve me at other levels of education and sport.
  Itís those people, many of whom I still keep in contact with, that I treasure the most!  Those people are still leaving an indelible mark on me today.  My hope is that there will continue to be those kinds of relationships kindled in some other hallway, hash mark or classroom that another young person will be catapulted into the next season of his life ready to leave that same mark on the heart of someone else.  The place it happens is inconsequential as long as it continues to happenÖ CD will continue to impact young lives like mine!

-- Harry Swayne
Baltimore Ravens
  (Ted's note: Harry, an '83 Dougherty grad, enjoyed a long and wonderful career as an NFL lineman and is now the Ravens' assistant director of player programs.)

  I just wanted to put my two cents in this discussion. I would love to be able to blame this on the Cardinal and the Bishop, but sadly that is not the case. In today's economic times you need money to run a school. My 3 daughters all graduated from CD, and they believe it was an integral  part of their success in life. I have also been privileged to be on the sidelines for a number of memorable games at "The Pit". I can never forget the old guys sitting in the front row at every game [now the old guy is me].
  It is not the competition I will miss most. It is the many faces that came through our program the last 20 some years. Although I am a Bonner grad I say with pride...WE ARE CD.
  P.S. I have never seen anything to match the Looney Bin!
-- Mike Patterson

Varsity Assistant
Cardinal Dougherty Boys Basketball

  The closings of North and Dougherty are the end of two long traditions. I graduated from Father Judge in 2006. I remember in my senior year on Judgeís football team, we played North in a monsoon at Northeast's field. The game was tight and Judge won, but there were points when I thought Daryl Robinson was going to bust out a 60 yard run.  Unfortunately, that was the last time Judge would beat North. I hope there Judge and North could play one more time for the Fr. Tucker trophy.
  My dad also tells me how the 1968 North Catholic JV basketball team beat Bishop McDevitt in the playoffs after the varsity was suspended, and how the Dougherty band was probably the biggest in the world. Itís a shame that the schools have to close, but the memories of North and Dougherty will remain.

-- Tim D.
  I think its sad to see two of the great Catholic schools not only in Philadelphia but in the Country close down. I was blessed to have ties to both schools. I attended North for two years before transferring to Faher Judge and my Grandfather and 2 of my Uncles are North graduates. My father was a Cardinal Dougherty graduate and sad to say but I attended Summer school at Dougherty my freshman and sophomore years so in some ways my parents paid a tuition at 3 schools for me. My Mom always said I should have gotten a diploma at all 3 schools! LOL  But seriously I made lifetime friends at both North and Dougherty and will cherish that forever. I had a lot of great times at both places whether it was at school or playing them in sports. North will always hold a special place in my heart because of the many great experiences and the many great people I was so blessed to have met. I know one thing Thanksgiving Day will never be the same without the greatest rivalry the City has ever seen North vs Frankford! I wish the families nothing but success in finding a new school for their kids to attend and for the all the Graduates of these two schools always keep them in your hearts!
-- Bill Murphy
Father Judge '96
  I would like to reiterate the sediments expressed by Harry Swayne.  I too was a product of CD.  Many of the same men that influenced and helped shape Harry were instrumental in my life.  Men like Coach Stratts, Coach Dave Gill and John Dampf, to name a few, influenced and helped shape me into the man I am today.  They influenced me in the hallways and on the field.  I am sure there are hundreds, if not thousands who can say the same thing.  What was most amazing about CD was the spirit.  The spirit of CD was made up of all the administrators, faculty and students.  The whole was much greater than the sum of the parts!!  I have never had an experience as great as the one I had in my four years at CD and I can only wish the same for my children.  CD was much more than bricks and sticks.  They may tear down the walls and redevelop the property in to something else.  But in so many thousands of hearts, CD will always be there.  For itís not the hallways, the classrooms, the cafeteria or the fields that made CD a home away from home for so many of us.  It was the spirit that was so alive with in.  You can take down the building, do whatever you want with the land and even do away with the name.  What you will never do away with is the SPIRIT that made CD what it was.  That spirit lives on in so many of us.  We can only hope to pass that spirit on to the generations that follow us.  CD, soon to be gone, but never to be forgotten.
-- Dave Spause, Class of 1982


  I agree with you.  Losing all these schools in just three years is nuts!  There will barely be enough schools to have a Philadelphia Catholic League anymore...
  I grew up in Levittown and graduated Bishop Egan, Class of 1973.  I am glad I was able to witness the glory years of Egan football ( 1963-1971).  We usually played West Catholic or St. James for the right to go the City Title, all which are now gone.  It's very sad.  I especially think about what Mike Tos' reaction would be if he were alive today.  I'm sure it would have broken his heart.   
  For anyone who is a junior at any of these schools, this has to be so hard.  My heart also goes out to all the athletes who are juniors at the schools which will be closing.  Having to find another school and fight for a position and not be sure if you will get to play in your last year of high school cannot be easy.  It makes me realize how much easier we had it in our day.  These students are learning a very hard lesson at such a young age, having to deal with the fact that the school they love is closing.  Change can be really tough and unfair at times.  My thoughts and prayers go out to all current students, parents and alumni of all the affected schools.
  Thanks for providing the opportunity to express our thoughts and feelings.
Best always,
-- Joe N
It really is hard to see good things come to an end. I graduated from Bonner in 87 and my brother in 98. Bonner is a great school with a good sports history. The PCL will never be the same again. I have been lucky to be apart of 2 great rivalries, Bonner/OíHara and St Joes Prep/ LaSalle. One as a student and player and the other as a coach. Going back to Bonner as a visiting coach was always fun. I will miss that school a lot.
-- John Howe
Bonner '87

What a shame. So many memories. West Catholic: Lynam, Boyle, Magee, Flavin, Beck, whom I was in the service with. A great guy and Ernie's brother. West beat Judge, 59-58. I never forgave them. Ha Ha. What a great team they were. We almost did it. It's terrible for all those kids in those schools and their parents. Who knows where this will end. I don't think it will be good.
-- Bob Dillon
  I am a member of the class of 68 at North and remember the "diner incident". I remember thinking, at the time, what a poor decision Mr. Friel made. Of course it turned out to be the best one. Sticking to one's guns is one of the biggest traits I learned not only at North but through the whole 12 year catholic school experience in Philly. My father, older brother and myself are all North grads and my two younger brothers are Judge boys. I wouldn't trade the education or the experience for anything. I stumbled upon your site while reading about the Eagles history and Bucko Kilroy. I grew up with his son, Greg, and played sandlot football with him.
Have a nice day.
-- George Duffy
  For former St. James baseball coach John Mooney.
  Thanks for reminding me hustle matters...I graduated from STJ in 1990. I was only 138 lbs and played my sophomore year on the JV team. I just remember his fungo bat and how high he could hit pop flies to us outfielders...I live in South Carolina now but looking back I wish I would have played and not quit after my sophomore year. I LOVE the game and seeing that honor is given where it is due is a blessing. I wonder if Mr Mooney still has that bat. I thank you for not cutting me even though I was not a 5 tool player. I know you should not have regrets but as an adult I can hear still hear the crack of that bat and see him mowing the grass so we could have a practice field. It may be a small thing but those years I wasted when I could have been playin ball and learning instead of being a goofball. Anyway that is one great memory I have about STJ and Mr Mooney his hustle every day and now seeing that he deserves respect....thanks for doing the little things right.
-- MIKE KEENAN 1990 Graduate STJ