St. Edward football team finds winning magic at Disney World
St. Edward High School’s football team found magic when they traveled to Florida to open the season at the KSA Kickoff Classic held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World. The Green Wave rode their way to a 30-20 victory over Christ’s Church Academy of Jacksonville, Fla.
Head coach Mike Rolando said the trip brought great meaning to the program.
“It felt like a great opportunity for the boys to build some excitement, build some memories,” he said.
Competing in Florida at the KSA event was a first for the St. Edward football program.
“Part of the package that we bought was a three-park hopper pass, had a private dinner at Epcot and a private pep rally at one of the resorts,” Rolando said. “We spent two whole days at the theme parks. We had four days to have fun and bond together.”
Rolando said the team fundraised for more than a year to cover the expenses for the trip. Each athlete needed to raise $1,400 to account for the costs, he said.
The trip kicked off Aug. 24 when the team departed for Florida and they returned to on Sunday.
“Going into the game, there’s hype,” Rolando said. “It’s been on the guys’ radar for a year. KSA putting on a first-class event for us, I think, the kids felt special. To be in one of the greatest parts of the world with teammates… It was a great opportunity.”
Rolando noted that historically, St. Edwards tends to perform different on the road from year to year, and that none of that impacts how they played while in Florida.
“You have different intensity levels from team to team,” he said. “They didn’t want to come to Florida and lose. I think they didn’t want to come home having lost. We’ve taken teams on trips before. Overall, those are good experiences. This was just kind of exaggerated. [Competing at Disney World] signifies that it was different and just a fun opportunity for the boys.”
Jimmy Harkins, 17, of Elgin, was one of 49 athletes representing the St. Edward High School football program in Florida. He said he’d never been there.
“Visiting the Magic Kingdom at Disney, me and all my teammates had a blast when we were down there,” Harkins said.
Harkins said the idea of competing in Florida was exciting, but it wouldn’t alter the way he approached the game.
“I was very confident,” he said. “I never took the other team for granted.”
Harkins said the game had a different kind of feeling for him.
“It had a lot of hype. We had been talking about it for the last 18 months… As far as elevating my game, I played the way I would play any other game.”
At the conclusion of the season opener, KSA recognized St. Edward High School’s Harkins as offensive player of the game and Angel Garcia as defensive player of the game.