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Boylan and Auburn; Football, Leadership, and Rockford

There has been much conversation this fall about Boylan Catholic and Auburn High School’s football programs.  This includes who coaches what team as well as the role of sports in the education process.  Recently, at a Next Rockford Membership Meeting, one RPS 205 Assistant Superintendent stated that sports is the “front porch” to the school itself.  He said that sports is not the foundation of a school but that it allows on-lookers from inside and outside the community a glimpse of what the school is all about.  Some will argue this is not a good thing.  Few would argue that this is not true.
As a proud Boylan-graduate and former Director of Alumni Relations for the school, I am very happy for Coach John Cacciatore and his great 1st year as Boylan’s Football Coach.  Like Dan Appino before him, he is following a Hall of Fame Coach who cast a pretty big shadow.  I am 100% confident John will achieve that same level of success as his predecessors; Dan Appino, Bill Thumm, and Ben Murray.  He will build on a great tradition and also put his stamp on the program.   Although John goes out of his way to not drawn attention to himself, he is an excellent football coach and a great example of what Boylan wants its students to strive to be: Saints. Scholars. Champions.  I am proud of our Titans and excited for what the future holds for my school.
As for Auburn, I like what the future holds for them as well.  I am more than impressed with the marked improvement of their football program.  Like Auburn’s recent basketball success under Coach Ott, I am not surprised by this success.  Leadership matters.  Also worth noting is that Dan Appino and Josh Fagan’s leaving Boylan does not wipe away what they did for my school anymore than it erases what they learned from Boylan as students, teachers, and coaches.  Like many of the coaches in this community, they know how to use a football to teach young people how to lead, have discipline, and serve those around them.  Like many who teach and coach in this community, they draw-out greatness in those they serve.  I hope that our business and political leaders are paying close attention to this powerful example.
I have heard much debate about how different these two schools are.  They do have different challenges.  The biggest difference to me is that one, by law, is a public school and the other, by charter, is a Catholic school.  But choice is good in education as it is in business.  So is a little competition.  Both have a big role to play in Rockford’s comeback.  Both schools have kids who are absolutely loaded with talent.  Both have graduates who have gone on to become leaders in this community and are proud to tell you which Rockford high school they graduated from.  Rockford desperately needs both schools to continue to become the best versions of themselves they possibly can – This is at the heart of Rockford’s comeback.
Like Auburn, there is much, much more to Boylan Catholic than a football team.  However, if this is the front porch from which people want to judge these schools and our community as a whole, I am very comfortable with that!  We are well represented.
I will be rooting for the Knights and their new coaches…..  every game but one!  And when that game takes place, I will be wearing green and cheering for the Titans!
However, after the game, I will quickly go back to work with fellow Next Rockford members, many of whom graduated from one of Rockford’s public or private schools, looking for ways to work with our educational, business, and political leaders to move this community forward.
If you live in the Rockford area, are a member of Generation X or Y, then I ask you to check-out Next Rockford, learn more about its mission, and get involved today.  We need you!  Rockford needs you!  If; however, you are still in high school, then study hard – we need you to lead us in the future!
Frank Haney
Next Rockford Facilitator
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