By Eddie Dwyer
Ohio City - As he was putting in another busy day performing his duties as a Student Manager for the Saint Ignatius Wildcats' Football Program, junior Declan McCarthy spoke of what his behind the scenes, but oh so vital role has meant to him.
"It's almost a lifetime experience," McCarthy said. "You only have four years of high school and I'm in my third right now. "It's really fun, working with the team and traveling with the team. It truly is a phenomenal experience, one of a kind."
And helping make that experience so special is the man who teaches and advises the Student Managers at Saint Ignatius, Mr. Hank Gaughan, ATC.
Now in his 32nd year as the Wildcats' Head Athletic Trainer and 39 years overall, which includes seven years at Brush High School, Hank is one of the most respected Athletic Trainers in all of Ohio, if not the entire nation.
"Mr. Gaughan has been a great mentor," said McCarthy, as he was preparing to take a little break and grab a sandwich from Wendy's before the second of Friday's two-a-day practice sessions began. "He has taught us how to do so many multiple things, things we have to do as Managers here at Saint Ignatius and as Men for Others."
McCarthy doesn't hesitate for a second when describing his cousin, former Wildcats' outstanding Student Manager Kyle Kostura '15, as having the biggest influence on him went it came to McCarthy's decision to become a team manager. It's a decision, he said, that he doesn't regret for a second.
Like McCarthy, junior Luke Van de Walle had some impressive family influence when it came to his decision to become a Student Manager.
Luke was introduced to the Student Manager program at Saint Ignatius by his uncle, former Wildcat great Kevin Cook '86. Kevin received the prestigious John J. Wirtz Award for the 1985-86 school year and was inducted into the Saint Ignatius Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003. Kevin went on to an outstanding football career at the University of Virginia.
"I will always remember the playoffs from last year," said Luke. "They were a phenomenal experience for me. My freshman year we didn't qualify for the playoffs. The St. Edward game in the playoffs, when we beat them (in overtime in the 2016 Regional Finals) was like nothing I ever experienced before. The atmosphere in the stadium (Bedford Bearcat Stadium) was just incredible."
Luke said he hasn't given much thought yet as to whether or not he would like to continue his athletic managerial career in college, but he is keeping the door open.
"Both of my parents went to the University of Notre Dame and I'm a huge Notre Dame fan," he said. "Being a manager for that team and being involved in that program would be just awesome."
For junior Michael Gallipoli, his Student Manager role allows him to have a true sense of being part of the team.
"Helping the players out gives me a sense of joy," Michael said. "I really enjoy being with the team. Last year's first playoff game (a 35-0 victory over Massillon Jackson in the regional quarterfinals) was the first playoff game I was part of. I think that excitement and energy will really stick with me."
Gallipoli said he will never forget last year's Division I State Championship Game and his first trip to Ohio Stadium in Columbus.
"Taking in all of the sites of an awesome game to look back on," Michael said of the tough 27-20 double overtime loss to Saint Ignatius' Jesuit brothers from Cincinnati St. Xavier. "I remember every part of it."
Gallipoli says, without a second's hesitation, that Hank Gaughan has truly been an inspiration for him and his desire to go into athletic training at the college level.
"Just watching all of the things Mr. Gaughan does with the players and how he works with them helps me to visualize what I am going to be doing later in life."
Michael also appreciates Hank's sense of humor and "the jokes he cracks, they're just awesome."
For junior Elias Yazbeck, the final member of Saint Ignatius' fabulous managerial foursome, a concussion during his freshman season ended his football career and along the road to recovery he found a path that allowed him to still be part of the team and stay interactive in the sport.
Elias credits his current fellow managers and those who have graduated, such as Tad Bogielski '17 and Brendan Stefancin '17, for helping show him the way and teaching him the "teamwork" aspect of being a Student Manager.
Yazbeck shared with this corner throughout last season that seeing how much the players truly appreciate the work of the Student Managers made him very happy and all of his efforts worthwhile.
FROM MR. HANK GAUGHAN, ATC
"You give them a job and they'll get it done," Hank said of his fabulous foursome of Student Managers for 2017. "You don't have to hover over them.
"You get to see them grow and develop, emotionally and mentally. They come in as wide-eyed freshmen and go out as savvy seniors," said Hank in referring to one of the great things he takes home with him from working with and guiding Saint Ignatius' Student Managers.
"It's just a great working relationship," Hank continued. "When the season is over they'll still stop by. They'll stick their head in the door and talk. They go on to college, come back and tell you all about it."
Hank emphasized that Declan, Luke, Michael and Elias work together extremely well, that they know what each person is doing.
In closing, Hank pointed out how great it was to have Tad Bogielski on hand this summer, helping the current Student Managers through mini camps and two-a-days.
Tad will be leaving for The Ohio State University next week (August 16th), where he plans to study Sports Industry. With some of the Buckeyes' Senior Team Managers moving on in the spring, Tad is hoping to land a spot in OSU's Athletic Program.
FROM SAINT IGNATIUS ATHLETIC TRAINER MO SIZEMORE: Mo shared with the corner on Friday that Nate Sommerfeld will be joining the Wildcats' Athletic Staff as a Student Trainer Aid.
Nate will be an extension of Hank and Mo. Among his duties will be assisting Hank and Mo in their supplies and emergency equipment, learning how to tape certain body parts and other care.
"He's a sophomore at Saint Ignatius and he is very reliable," Mo said. "And he is willing to learn."
Mo said Nate will be only the second Student Trainer Aid at Saint Ignatius, following in the footsteps of Wildcats' All-Ohio punter/kicker Colin Goodfellow '17, who is furthering his education and football career at the University of Kentucky.
"We're embarking on new ground," said Mo.