‘Geaux Beaux,’ national anthem statues, and trophies

Knights of Columbus honor guard hold the American flag high during the singing of the national anthem during Prep Bowl XLVI on Oct. 20 at Ford Field. Instead of standing as statues during the anthem, some schools have a tradition of singing along, a patriotic demonstration that could align well with Catholic values. (Gregg McIntosh | Special to Detroit Catholic)

With pen and pad poised, ever on the alert, there’s plenty of news along the sidelines. For example:

“Geaux Beaux” – Congratulations to Aaron Babicz, the athletic director at Novi Detroit Catholic Central, on the latest addition to his family, a second son six months ago.

“What’s his name?” I asked.

“Bo,” was the answer I heard.

He replied, “It’s spelled B-e-a-u-x. Pronounced Bo.”

And, of course, I responded: “Uh?”

He explained: Aaron thought it’s “cool” that Louisiana State University fans wave “Geaux Tigers” signs, a nod to the Creole presence in the community there.

He added he’s a longtime admirer of Bo Jackson, former Major League and NFL player, the only athlete in history to be named an All-Star in both baseball and football.

How cool, he thought, to name his son Bo – er, that is, Beaux.

This makes perfect sense because Aaron named his first son, now 3 years old, Brooks after another one of his sports idols, Brooks Robinson, of the Baltimore Orioles, nicknamed  “The Human Vacuum Cleaner” and regarded as one of the greatest defensive third basemen in Major League history, winner of 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards.

And, of course, I responded: “Uh, what does your wife think about this?”

“Oh, Lauren, she’s all for it,” Aaron said. “She’s a big sports fan. She was a catcher on the University of Michigan’s 2005 national softball champions. She put her foot down when I threatened to name them Maximus and Magnus.”

I can’t help wonder: what’s next? You, too?

National anthem statues: It’s bugged me for a long time that we the people stand like statues when our national anthem is played. We’re robotic: rise, men remove hats (or veterans, give the appropriate salute), place a hand over our heart. And, we stand.

What a refreshing surprise it was about a month ago when the student section at Madison Heights Bishop Foley sang the anthem, apparently without any urging. Athletic director Brian Hassler said he wasn’t aware of it.

I also witnessed this at South Bend: Before the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh game, the announcer did the usual routine – but added one more instruction: he invited spectators to sing the anthem while the Fighting Irish band played it. With some 78,000 people in attendance on a bright autumn afternoon, you couldn’t hear the singing well in the open-air stadium, but I looked around and saw practically everyone doing so.

In this day and age when our flag and our cherished American values are under assault, we need to express our patriotism more than ever. Singing the national anthem would be a meaningful way that young and old could do so.

Memo to CHSL headquarters and athletic directors: let’s do it! Now that we are beginning the winter sports phase of our athletics calendar, and contests are played indoors, can you imagine what it would sound like with students, spectators and players all singing? I get the chills thinking about it. Plus, in the Catholic League, the anthem follows the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, giving this moment an air of solemnity.

A Marian trifecta: If Bloomfield Hills Marian would win a volleyball state district trophy this fall, athletic director Dave Feldman said it would be the third year in a row – each with a different coach. 

Well, the Mustangs did it. Angela Kalczynski coached the 2016 squad, who advanced as far as the quarterfinals. In 2017, coach Lauren “Doogie” Duquette took Marian to the Division 2 finals, where they were defeated by Novi. This year, the challenge is in the hands of Mayssa Cook.

Joe’s plaque: Joe DeLamielleure played football at tiny Center Line St. Clement a half century ago and went on to NFL Hall of Fame stardom. He was particularly renowned as the anchor of the Buffalo Bills offensive line clearing the way for O. J. Simpson, the NFL’s first 2,000-yard rusher. 

Joe was also inducted into the State of Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. CHSL Director Vic Michaels shared that plaque at the Prep Bowl last month with members of the 1968 St. Clement football team. Earlier, he had taken it to a ceremony at St. Clement with Joe’s family and friends. When it was over, Michaels walked out with the plaque, as the former Catholic school, which closed in 2005, is now a charter school. 

The plaque is now in CHSL storage, along with hundreds of other trophies and plaques that were once upon a time displayed on the walls of the CHSL office when it was located in the Gabriel Richard Building on Michigan Avenue. It’s a shame all of this hardware isn’t open to the public. Anyone have any ideas? 

Which brings us to ...  

Ladywood’s plaques: I bumped into Emily Frikken at the CHSL volleyball championship. She was Livonia Ladywood’s athletic director when the Felician Sisters closed that school this past summer. What happened to all of the league and state trophies the Blazers had won in the course of 68 years?

“Parents were given first dibs,” she said. “They claimed about 90 percent of the collection.” She didn’t know about the fate of the unclaimed awards. I imagine the situation is the same for nearly 100 other Catholic high schools in the archdiocese that have been closed, the overwhelming majority in the last 50-60 years.

Emily, by the way, is director of alumni relations at Warren Regina, from where she graduated in 2009.

Well, I guess I’ll be geaux-ing ‘til the next time.

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].