The Nolan Catholic boys basketball season ended one game short of the TAPPS state tournament over the weekend, but the team will roll out a ball for one final game in the 2015-16 season, and, to be sure, a prayer will be hoisted.
The Vikings are closing with an exhibition game unlike any they’ve ever played against a team of visiting seminarians on spring break from Theological College at The Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
“It seemed like something that would be fun, and for our guys to get to know some of these guys will be good,” said Nolan coach Steve Prud’homme. “We came back pretty tired from College Station, but it’ll be nice to come back together and play one more time.
“They were disappointed at how the year ended, so this will be something that is fun and relaxed.”
The Vikings’ season ended in defeat in the TAPPS 6A regional final against St. Anthony’s of San Antonio on Saturday in College Station.
Game time is 7 p.m. Wednesday at the old gym. It will feature high school rules, four eight-minute quarters and referees.
I think when the kids can come in contact with the seminarians, young men, the vocations become more real to them. Sometimes, when you see a priest, you really can’t see as being you in the future. They’re so smart and so developed, but when you see someone who is going through this it makes it possible.
Nolan Catholic coach Steve Prud’homme
The seminarian group is an intramural outfit at The Catholic University. The team is, in fact, player and coach Rijo Phillip said, the reigning intramural champion at the school.
The seminarians wanted to travel to Dallas-Fort Worth to reunite with some of their peers who are here on pastoral years, which are akin to internships, at area parishes.
Two of those are from the Fort Worth area, Maurice Moon and Phillip, 35, who played two varsity seasons at The Colony.
Most of the guys had never traveled to Texas, so they wanted to do Texas things. A tour of AT&T Stadium, the JFK assassination sight and a shooting range were on the itinerary, as were Texana restaurants.
They also wanted to play basketball.
Fr. James Wilcox, the vocations director of the Diocese of Fort Worth, threw out the idea of possibly playing Nolan, and, as do the future priests, looks at the game also as a chance to promote vocations.
The Catholic University of America is the national university of the church. The Washington, D.C., institution has some 3,600 undergraduates and 3,100 graduate students.
“I think when the kids can come in contact with the seminarians, young men, the vocations become more real to them,” Prud’homme said. “Sometimes, when you see a priest, you really can’t see as being you in the future. They’re so smart and so developed, but when you see someone who is going through this it makes it possible.”
Prud’homme said if the varsity had advanced to state, the junior varsity would have played instead.
Three of Nolan’s players, Michael Ehrhart, Jeremy Classo and Sid Baker, said the team was excited about the game.
Among the seminarian team is a former golf pro, a former Division I baseball player and junior-college basketball player.
“We are pretty, good, yes,” said Moon, 29, an Arlington native who plays weekly with a Knights of Columbus group in Argyle. “We have a lot of athleticism on the team.”
Phillip was concerned about fatigue and depth.
We are pretty, good, yes. We have a lot of athleticism on the team.
Catholic University seminarian and basketball player Maurice Moon, an Arlington native
“Clearly, I feel like we’ll be at a disadvantage with not having practices,” said Phillip, who is on pastoral year at St. Francis of Assisi in Grapevine. Before entering the seminary, he studied medicine at UNT Health Science Center. “I’m hoping the level of experience we have and the little bit of going over things together will be sufficient.”
Phillip’s initial thought when he learned of his team’s opponent was recalling the quality of play at The Colony were that “we’re going to get killed.”
Time will tell, but it sounds as if they can hold their own.
Ultimately, another item on the agenda of spring break 2016 can be scratched off.