Vincentian Cup - More than just a race
Sept. 13, 2010
CHICAGO- On September 4, DePaul Cross Country hosted a meet between the three Vincentian universities in the United States with the winner taking home the Vincentian Cup. The race was held in coordination with DePaul University's Celebration of the 350th anniversary of the deaths of St. Vincent DePaul and St. Louise de Marillac.
The excitement of the three teams joining in competition on a beautiful Saturday morning was a sight to behold. The action started with the women's race where the DePaul contingent led the way with Toni Salvatore and Mary Cate Quiett finishing first and second, respectively. In the men's race, junior sensation Matthew Graham dominated the field, finishing nearly a minute ahead of the next competitor, DePaul's Edward McDaniel.
DePaul's success on the course impressed the group of Blue Demon alumni that who volunteered to help make the event run smoothly. The alumni played a key role in running the event with alumni Dave Dopek and Pat Savage leading the track and& field and cross country programs, respectively. Additionally, former sprinter and current track and& field graduate assistant coach Stephanie Williams served as meet director. Other alumni had high profile roles as Bill Drennan served as the assistant starter & head finish judge while Dave Behoff served as the clerk of the course, coordinating the races' results. In all, nearly 20 alumni assisted in the running of the Vincentian Cup.
"We were thrilled with the turnout from the alumni," Coach Savage said. "Without their help, running the Vincentian Cup wouldn't have been possible."
When the races finished in mid-morning, Vincentian Cup initiatives were just beginning. The teams returned to DePaul's Sullivan Athletic Center for a Vincentian Cup Mass celebrated in McGrath Arena. The Mass was presided over by Fr. Jay Jung, C.M. and co-celebrated by Fr. Tru Minh Duong from St. John's, who made the trip with his team. The Mass also and featured student-athlete readers from St. John's and Niagara. As a part of the mass, Tom Judge of of DePaul's University Ministry brought St. Vincent DePaul to life in his portrayal of the DePaul's patron saint.
"When St. Vincent appeared, I think it was unlike any experience they might have had on their campus," DePaul's Associate Athletics Director Kathryn Statz said. "When he talked about St. Vincent discerning about his vocation at roughly their age, I think that resonated with the student-athletes."
Statz, who participated in DePaul's program that allows faculty/staff members to travel to France in an immersive program "to walk in the steps of St. Vincent", thought the Vincentian Cup festivities were a dynamic way to advance the message that permeates the mission of the Vincentian institutions.
"It made me very proud to see the student-athletes learning in a personal way, much like my experience in France," Statz said. "The event was such a great idea on Coach Savage's part and to see it through to completion was just wonderful."
The creation of the Vincentian Cup and the surrounding activities was the brainchild of Coach Savage. "When I heard about the DePaul's efforts to celebrate St. Vincent dePaul and St. Louise de Marillac., I thought, wouldn't it be impactful to bring athletes from the three schools to compete and then celebrate our common connection through Vincentianism," Savage said. "I am thankful that our Secretary of the University Fr. Ed Udovic, C.M. and Director of Compliance Doug Bakker helped coordinate all the specifics to make the day a success."
DePaul Women's Cross Country Captain Mary Cate Quiett echoed the coaches' and administrators praise for the event.
"I think everyone really enjoyed it. Tom Judge did a wonderful job engaging the athletes and sharing bits about St. Vincent's life," Quiett said. "He was humorous, insightful and eloquently related St. Vincent's life to our own."
Quiett was struck by Judge's emphasis that St. Vincent didn't begin his extraordinary mission until later in life. Quiett added, "I think it is important, especially for college students who feel pressured to choose a major and decide what they want to do with their lives, to realize that sometimes, it takes a while before a person hears his calling."
The most telling aspects of the event probably aren't the flowery praise from administrators or quotes from a student-athlete. Instead it was the number of student-athletes that who lingered in the Hall of Fame Foyer of McGrath Arena after the Mass, conversing like old friends and ultimately exchanging friendly handshakes and hugs with individuals who just hours before had been competitors.
The day was a very enriching experience," Quiett said. "It's not often that a person gets to compete and then come together with his competitors to celebrate their commonalities. It was neat to get to know the other teams on a more personal level."