August 24, 2018

Chatard’s first home football game ever is a time of celebration

Students at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis cheer on their Trojan football team on Aug. 17, the night of the first true “home” football game at the school—a 38-7 win over the team from Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis. (Photo courtesy of Banayote Photography)

Students at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis cheer on their Trojan football team on Aug. 17, the night of the first true “home” football game at the school—a 38-7 win over the team from Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis. (Photo courtesy of Banayote Photography)

By John Shaughnessy

During a night of celebration, the memorable scenes kept unfolding on Aug. 17 as Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis had its first true “home” football game in 55 years of playing the sport.

Throughout the game, the overflowing student section pulsed with the energy of teenagers smiling, cheering and waving blue-and-white spirit towels—all the students wearing white T-shirts with the message, “Making History, We’ve waited 55 years for this.”

At the game’s end—a 38-7 win over the team from Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis—the Trojan football players raced toward the stands, raising their helmets in celebration as they led their fans in singing the school’s fight song.

Then there was the far more low‑key scene that defined the night for Bill Sahm, the president of Bishop Chatard, the archdiocesan high school for the Indianapolis North Deanery.

As darkness fell, Sahm looked out from the north end zone and scanned the field that was bathed in the stadium’s glowing lights. He savored the sea of blue‑and‑white on the home sideline, noticed the crimson and gold on the visitors’ sideline, and saw the Chatard students in their white T-shirts behind the opposite end zone. That’s when the specialness of the night finally sank in for him.

“Very few of us thought it was possible, and here we were,” Sahm says in recalling that moment. “It was such a great night, and I had so many wonderful conversations with people. It was great to be around so many happy people.”

The journey to the night began six years when the stadium first opened, one of the newest facility upgrades to the school’s campus. Soccer and lacrosse games have been played there, and track meets have been held there. And while the football team practices on the field, there were many logistical concerns that needed to be addressed before a first home football game could happen, Sahm says.

When it did happen to open the 2018 season, Sahm knew it would be a special moment for the current football team and students. Yet even more, he views the home games as far-reaching in many ways.

“Its really for the longtime vitality of the school,” Sahm says, stressing how that vitality helps ensure the school’s main goals of faith formation and academic success.

“It gets our alumni back on campus. Four of our five classes holding their reunions this year have scheduled them around home football games. It also helps us create an environment where North Deanery parish families could come and enjoy the evening. We want to create an experience that makes it feel like home for them for the future.”

An estimated 3,500 people attended the school’s first home game, including a large number of students from North Deanery grade schools who receive free passes to attend all the school’s games and events, Sahm says.

And while Sahm viewed the first home football game with an eye to the future, he also recognized the moment as a time to pay tribute to the past and present supporters of the school that opened in 1961 and began playing football in 1963.

“I would like to thank all the people who were part of the school from the beginning who created the history we have that allows us to do the things we are doing today. It truly is a culmination of 57 years of support and contribution from a lot of people.” †

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