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‘Under the Lights’ showcases Lehman Catholic Community

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(CT Photo/John Stegeman)
(CT Photo/John Stegeman)

By John Stegeman
The Catholic Telegraph

Homecoming at Lehman Catholic High School had a different meaning this year.

After more than 40 years of celebrating homecoming away from home, a new tradition at the Sidney Ohio school brought the event to campus for the first time.

In an advancement committee meeting to discuss school growth last year, someone suggested bringing alumni back for homecoming. The discussion turned into a unique idea — have the homecoming football game on campus, ‘Under the Lights.’

One problem though, there were no lights. No stands either. The Cavaliers, like several local schools, don’t have a home football stadium and play their “home” games at a neighboring public high school. In Lehman Catholic’s 45-year history, the Cavs had never played a home varsity football contest — until Oct. 9.

On a cool October evening, more than 1,000 students, parents, alumni and other supporters of the archdiocese’s northernmost high school packed a temporary stadium behind Lehman Catholic’s school building to watch the Cavaliers defeat Hardin Northern 49-13.

Usually the site of a practice field — with grass and uprights the only permanent features — the location transformed into a venue fit for a school of Lehman’s size. The crowd overflowed the available seats and packed the home sideline, requiring periodic announcements over the PA system reminding fans to step back.

The home-side bleachers were on wheels and the visiting side seating was also temporary. Lehman Catholic flags were everywhere, shining yellow under the lights of four large utility poles installed just for the event. Tents were erected for concessions and apparel sales and a makeshift “press box” was located on the roof of the school.

The smallest football-playing Catholic high school in the archdiocese basically built a stadium for one night only.

While the game was the main event, it was part of a multi-day celebration including the usual homecoming dance, pep rally, Mass and more. Among the Oct. 9 festivities, the 2015 homecoming court was honored along side the schools first homecoming queen and king.

Tying Lehman’s Catholic identity into each aspect of the celebration was important to the school. Painted at midfield, rather than the Cavalier logo, was a large cross.

“We know we’re in the far north of the archdiocese and when we try to describe what’s here, it is very difficult to put it in words but it is just an extremely special place. That’s what you see in all the people behind me,” said Lehman Catholic Executive Director Missy Bennett. “There is a core family feeling that you can’t always get everywhere else and it all stems from that cross.”

Father Ethan Moore, a 2003 graduate of Lehman Catholic and parochial vicar of the parish cluster including St. Peter in Huber Heights, Our Lady of the Rosary, St. Adalbert and Holy Cross, was present at the game to lead the assembly in prayer before kickoff.

“Lehman gives a lot and it is great to be able to give back to Lehman as a community that shows how much they care,” he said. “They’ve given us our Catholic education and we want to support them in everything they’re doing still. It’s a mission.”

David Spearman, a 2010 graduate of Lehman and safety for the 2008 Cavalier team that reached the final four, was all smiles to see his alma matter finally hosting a game on its own turf.

“Honestly, it’s never happened before,” he said. “To see 1,000 people out here is pretty cool… Hopefully they keep this going and we can keep homecoming back home every year.”

Bennett said the school established a committee to deal with the logistics of the “Under the Lights” event. Bill Bosway, the committee chair and father of several students at Lehman Catholic, was cited as instrumental in planning process.

This story originally appeared in the November 2015 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph. 

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