John Campanale, head coach of St. Mark's Varsity football, was selected by the other 15 Independent School League head coaches to represent the ISL on the coaching staff of the annual Shriners All-Star Football game. Only 12 coaches across all of Massachusetts are selected, six for each team.
"This is a big honor," says coach Campanale, heading into his sixth year at the helm of the St. Mark's Lions. "I'm particularly excited because I get to represent St. Mark's at this event," continues Campanale. "Although we have really struggled the last two years, it is important because the other coaches in our league understand the challenges of a small school and can see the type of team that we field each week to be competitive. This past Saturday at the 3-hour orientation for the Shriners game, someone came up to me and said, 'I heard from other ISL coaches that St. Mark's was the best winless team they've ever played.'"
The 2012 Aleppo Shriners All-Star Football Classic will take place on June 15 at Gillette Stadium, beginning at 7 PM. It is co-sponsored by the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches' Association (MHSFCA).
The honor for Coach Campanale is also an intense commitment. Starting on June 4, the coaches will hold nightly practices in Waltham, in preparation for the June 15th game. Leading up to June, Mr. Campanale will be attending a series of coaching staff meetings as well.
All proceeds from the game are donated to the Shriners Hospital in Boston. The MHSFCA is proud to have donated more than one million dollars over the past thirty years to this charity . Each year, not only are thousands of dollars raised for the hospital, but also the publicity that the game generates helps to keep the public informed of the availability of the highly specialized care that is available in the Shriners' twenty-two hospital network. This care is available to any child up to the age of 18 years of age regardless of the family’s ability to pay.
This has inspired the Coach Campanale to go beyond simply being part of the staff at practices and on the sideline. "I'm also going to try to do some fund raising for the cause with my players and students," he says, "to have St. Mark's represented as contributors to this important mission. I'm hoping to use my experience with this program to get my team involved in the Shriners cause and perhaps visit the hospital in Boston next fall." Campanale, who also teaches English at St. Mark's, sees this as exemplifying St. Mark's mission of preparing students "for lives of leadership and service."
"This is a special honor and a tremendous opportunity," says Campanale, "not only for me, but especially for St. Mark's."