Priests aim to reassert basketball dominance
Bishop Dwenger High School, Fort Wayne, will host the fifth annual Cupertino Classic basketball game on Thursday, Dec. 27. Once again, diocesan seminarians will face the priests in a fierce battle for bragging rights.
Last December, the seminarians pulled off their first win in the game’s history. Now the priests, coached by Father Jacob Runyon, seek revenge. Among those returning to the team are the wildly athletic Coonan brothers — Father Matthew and Father Terrence. New additions include the recently ordained Father Jay Horning, Father Thomas Zehr and Father Patrick Hake.
What does Father Horning think it will take for the priests to win the game? “An exceptional amount of athleticism from the new priests — and for some of the seminarians to not play,” he joked.
He then baited the opposing team of future priests, saying: “I was once like you but now I am not: Good luck, and be nice to those who give you the sacraments.”
While the priests attempt to reassert their dominance on the hardwood, the seminarians, coached by seminarian Sam Anderson, seek back-to-back wins. Team captain Ben Landrigan spoke of the team’s preparedness for the upcoming match.
“The seminarians are absolutely ready for this year’s game. Ever since handling the priests last year, our goal has been to get the repeat,” he said. They have prepared by playing basketball together as much as they can, and watching Notre Dame basketball, “which is “our own version of studying film.”
As captain, Landrigan wants his fellow seminarians to “have no fear — whether that’s taking a big shot, trying to defend one of the Fathers Coonan, or pushing a priest out of the way for a rebound. All they’ve got to do is go out there and take the victory that’s waiting for them.”
Regarding his roster, Landrigan said seminarian Holden Berg might be their best player this season. “I’ve never seen him play, so he is a total wild card.”
The seminarian team expressed a pre-game desire for their opponents to know how much they are loved, and that they are appreciated for all they do. “However, if they never win a game the rest of my time as a seminarian, that’s cool, too,” Landrigan added.
The Cupertino Classic is named after St. Joseph of Cupertino, a Franciscan who learned to love God through devotion to prayer and voluntary acts of penance. He was known to levitate while in prayer, especially when Christmas carols were sung at Mass. St. Joseph of Cupertino was chose to represent the annual priests vs. seminarians game because it takes place in a season where Christmas carols proclaim the joy over the coming of the Messiah. St. Joseph of Cupertino is also the prime saint to represent the diocesan basketball tradition, because both sides are presumably praying for the gift of levitation at the moment of the game-winning dunk.
The Cupertino Classic is an event for people of all ages. Everyone is invited to gather as a community to bond over not only the game, their shared faith and the fun of watching parish priests and the seminarians compete against each other.
“I’d add that our main goal as always is to have a great night with the Catholic community,” said Landrigan. “We love seeing everyone and hanging out with them after the game. In the midst of anything else happening in the Church right now, this is a great way to celebrate and support the health of priests and vocations in our diocese.”
The event is free. The game begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcast by Redeemer Radio on 106.3 FM.
Coach-Father Jake Runyon – Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception – FW
Father Andrew Curry 23 St. Robert Bellarmine – N. Manchester
Father Jason Freiburger 7 St. Thomas the Apostle – Elkhart
Father Matt Coonan 33 St. Vincent de Paul – Elkhart
Father Terry Coonan 12 St. Therese Little Flower – South Bend
Father Zak Berry 11 Queen of Angels – Fort Wayne
Father Jonathon Norton 2015 Sacred Heart – Warsaw
Father Mark Gurtner 3 Our Lady of Good Hope – Fort Wayne
Father Jay Horning 1 St. Vincent de Paul – Fort Wayne
Father Patrick Hake 14 St. Vincent de Paul – Elkhart
Father Thomas Zehr 24 St. Elizabeth Ann Seton – Fort Wayne
Father David Violi 72 St. Joseph – Bluffton
Coach – Sam Anderson St. Vincent de Paul – Fort Wayne
Ben Landrigan – Captain 22 St. Elizabeth Ann Seton – Fort Wayne
Brian Florin 2 St. Pius X – Granger
Brian Isenbarger 26 St. John the Baptist – Fort Wayne
Deacon Spenser St. Louis 14 St. Vincent de Paul – Fort Wayne
Jake Schneider 20 St. Charles – Fort Wayne
Vince Faurote 3 St. Mary of the Assumption – Decatur
Nick Monnin 9 St. Matthew Cathedral – South Bend
Holden Berg 34 St. Vincent de Paul – Fort Wayne
Zane Langenbrunner 31 St. Bavo – Mishawaka
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.