I can’t say I was surprised that the Allentown Diocese is merging Central Catholic and Holy Name and renaming the high school Berks Catholic, which will sit on Holy Name’s campus.
Surprised is too strong a word. Surprised I would have been if the Kardashian sisters had delivered me that news while serving me breakfast in bed this morning.
After all, the move makes sense. Central, the former Luden’s mansion with the marble staircase and a broom closet for a gym, is down to 257 students. I have more friends on Facebook than that, some of whom I actually know. From an infrastructure and economic sense, the merger is a no-brainer.
As a former student-athlete at Central and a former sportswriter, the merger saddens me. Central-Holy Name was a great rivalry, almost on the level of Cain vs. Abel, David vs. Goliath, Martin vs. Lewis, and Olbermann vs. O’Reilly.
Whenever the Cardinals and the Blue Jays squared off, no matter the sport, it was a Holy War in which the sweat smelled like incense and the teams went to confession immediately after the game.
I am relieved they didn’t name the new school Greater Reading Catholic, just for the PC of it. Still, Berks Catholic is rather bland. Other religious denominations wouldn’t call their schools Berks Protestant or Berks Jew or Berks Muslim or Berks Buddhist.
After all, besides yours truly, there are several iconic figures they could have named the school after.
On the Central side there is the late football coach and principal, Vince Shemanski, as well as the late state senator, Mike O’Pake.
On the Holy Name side there is the former athletic director and basketball coach, Lloyd Wolf. I’m certain Holy Name must have had another iconic figure along the way but frankly I can’t think of one. Then again, I am a Central guy.
Holy Shemanski, Holy O’Pake or Holy Wolf (not to be confused with Holly Wolf) all could have worked as the school name. And they all have natural school mascot tie-ins — the Holy Shemanski Screaming Poles, the Holy O’Pake Senators or the Holy Wolf Wolfpack.
Alas, we’re stuck with Berks Catholic, whose mission statement likely will be to educate good Catholics as well as field good athletic teams. So the mascot is another no-brainer — the Berks Catholic Angels.
Granted, the Angels may have a devil of a time living up to their name and avoiding committing penalties and fouls.