Football

Commentary: Amid Turmoil, Trinity Catholic Football Team Perseveres

New Trinity Catholic football coach Thomas Broschardt with receiver Tahj Morgan during a recruiting visit to Sacred Heart.

Some Trinity Catholic supporters have been engaged the past few months in a game of kill the messenger. In particular, a colleague of mine at another media outlet has been blasted with nasty emails for publishing the truth, namely that the sports program at the school is endangered and when it comes to athletics the school’s administration is clueless.

I would use the word incompetent. It seems criticizing accurate reporting because it casts an unflattering picture has made its way out of Washington.

The declining enrollment that threatens Trinity’s future has impacted the present of the athletic department. In a matter of weeks, the school said it would be fielding a football team, then walked it back. Then there was definitive news, an email sent out to FCIAC athletic directors that there would be a Crusaders team this fall. That relief lasted until late June, when Head of School Pat Brady sent out a release that read, “Should the enrollment numbers for this school year be confirmed at current numbers or greater, and if there is enough student commitment, we are hopeful we will be able to offer varsity sports in football…”

The Trinity football team used its social media accounts, wisely deciding to speak for itself, the following day and announced that a co-op team with Wright Tech had been approved and it is full throttle to the Sept. 13 opener against Norwalk.

I certainly hope this is the final word.

The actions of the administration have caused some of the greenest and goldest loyalists to turn their backs on the school, people I have known for years who had considered Trinity their second family.

Meanwhile, athletic director Frank Fedak, hired months earlier, was just laid off as part of a mass cost-cutting staff reduction. The dean of students is now also the athletic director. That’s not exactly a positive sign.

Former Trinity star Thomas Costigan is back this fall as an assistant coach.

No one is rooting for the school to go under, including those writing about the situation. Quite the opposite. The school has a rich sports tradition that is part of Stamford’s rich sports history. Before starting The Ruden Report I worked in the sports department of The Advocate for two decades, and some of my fondest memories took place at Trinity, the games covered, the coaches and athletes who provided some of my favorite stories, and continued appreciation for the lasting friendships made.

Right now, my thoughts are with Thomas Broschardt and his Trinity football players. Broschardt was hired in February after Donny Panapada stepped down. Broschardt played at Sacred Heart University, worked as an assistant at several colleges and recently married a former Trinity girls basketball player.

Broschardt must be recovering from a severe case of whiplash, but he spoke positively about the school administration when we talked for the first time this afternoon, after I noticed that the Crusaders will now be playing at New Canaan’s Grip It & Rip It Tournament this weekend.

Broschardt, impediments and distractions aside, has been working hard to maintain a positive atmosphere for his players. Easing into a first head coaching job is difficult enough under ideal circumstances, but Broschardt and his players have persevered under their own ray of optimism.

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Asked how he blocked out any negativity, Broschardt said, “You know, I would say that it hasn’t been that hard at all. I have great parents, I have great kids. My biggest thing I harp on with the kids is the mentality to win. My main focus has been the kids.”

While the numbers discussed most are the players on the roster — Broschardt said right now there will be about 30 from Trinity and an expected 15 coming from Wright Tech — he is trying to keep the emphasis on wins that can be achieved.

“A lot of the job is making sure that these kids have done what they needed to get done because we have some really special athletes on this team who have some really great opportunities I think moving forward, as long as they stay focused,” Broschardt said.

The coach spoke highly of the talent and leadership coming from his three captains, quarterback Matt Dougherty, safety Evan Field and receiver Tahj Morgan, a potential game-breaker.

The chance to play in the New Canaan 7 x 7 tournament may be appreciated more by the Crusaders, who were unable to hold spring football and will need all the time possible out in the field once practices begin next month, than the other 31 teams that will be participating.

“It’s a great opportunity to get the guys together because as you know I came in late, being hired in February, and we didn’t get a chance with spring ball,” Broschardt said. “We already have some excitement in the building and I know the community is excited about having a team this season.”

Several of Panapada’s assistants have returned, and Thomas Costigan, one of the best players in school history, who just completed an outstanding career at Bryant and had a free agent tryout with the Chargers, will be on the Trinity sideline until another call comes from the NFL.

The lack of numbers have cost the Crusaders in recent seasons. It is hard not to root for Broschardt and his players to eventually get a chance to compete on an even playing field.

“We’re kind of hoping now that all the talk, if you want to call it a controversy or whatever you want to call it, is in the rearview mirror and now you can just really worry about football and your kids can just worry about football and it’s back to normal,” Broschardt said.

The future of the football program and sports as a whole is directly tied to the enrollment numbers at Trinity.

Hopefully the administration plays academics better than it has athletics.