The night of November 11 I was down on the sidelines covering the Glory For Christ Football League Championship game between Holy Spirit Preparatory School and Christian Heritage School.
I couldn’t help but notice that a Holy Spirit student (Ricky Walker) was pushing one of the players, Peter Nagle, around in a wheelchair. Nagle, a freshman and first-year defensive tackle on the varsity team, broke his leg in three places during the semifinal game against Augusta Prep.
With the help of Walker, Nagle was fully engaged in the game. He rolled through the banner at the beginning of the game with the team, he rolled along the sideline following the action and he also joined the team huddle during the timeouts. “Although it was extremely disappointing for Peter, he is no stranger to pain and inconvenience. Peter has cerebral palsy, but he refuses to use ‘handicap’ as an excuse not to play football,” said assistant coach and school chaplain Father Jason Brooks.
“He (Peter) is a tremendous asset and a great inspiration. He has two desires - one is to be treated like everyone else and the other is to play football,” said head coach James Falcetti. “We rally around Peter. He is a tough kid. He's a warrior.”
Well, Holy Spirit was victorious in the title game. When the clock on the scoreboard reached zero, the fans rushed the field in jubilation. They yelled and screamed and jumped for joy. The players passed the trophy around and kissed it like it was the NFL’s Lombardi Trophy. In the middle of all the hoopla was Nagle.
There was a single moment in the midst of all the celebration that caught my attention. A momentary hush came over the players when nose tackle William Oppermann and defensive line coach Jesse Garcia extended the trophy to Nagle. As soon as Nagle touched and held it, the players and the crowd erupted once again, but this time they were chanting Peter Nagle’s name.
Peter Nagle, in wheelchair right, is the recipient of a
championship gesture during a championship moment.
All season Father Brooks prayed with the players and coaches. They attempted to teach and shape the young men into good players on the field and students of character and followers of Christ off the field. That gesture, a championship gesture, validated the effort and work of the coaches and chaplain over the 12-week season.
Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer
Check out how Holy Spirit won their first football championship in the Nov. 24 issue of The Georgia Bulletin.