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Sports Oct. 16, 2018

Lions host Faith and Family Night, honour Holy Cross coach

By Pat Macken

BC Lions players will share their faith Nov. 3 at Faith and Family Night. Also that night, retired Catholic high school coach Bob DeJulius will be inducted in the B.C. Football Hall of Fame. The 1968 Notre Dame Jugglers are also being inducted this year. (BC Lions photo)

In today’s sports world, few athletes will discuss their religious faith much, if at all. In some cases players are instructed by their team, agent, or coach not to talk about religion, and media interviewing them may have been informed they cannot ask questions about faith.

While this is very sad, football is an exception and the BC Lions are leaders in spreading the faith.

For several years now, the Lions have hosted a Faith and Family Night after one of their regular season games. This year’s event will be held after the Lions play the Calgary Stampeders in their regular season finale at B.C. Place Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 3.

After the game ends, fans are invited to stay and listen to players speak about the significance of their faith in their lives. There will also be a performance of Christian music for families to enjoy, and every person who stays receives a Lions flag.

With sports playing such a big role in our lives today, they’ve also become a potentially vital source of evangelization and apostolate. When I was growing up, I was very aware of my Catholicism. As an athlete I craved validation of my faith through the athletes I admired.

In today’s societal climate, speaking publicly about religion takes courage, and football players don’t lack the virtue of courage. It is very touching to see Catholic and Christian players gather at the centre of the field after games. Even as opponents in a very physical sport they embrace and pray together.

The Lions historically have had a good number of Catholic and evangelical Christian players, and this year is no different. Quarterback Travis Lulay is Catholic, as are many of the coaches.

Head coach Wally Buono is a vocal Christian, and while we all hope this isn’t the last game of Buono’s illustrious and record-setting coaching career, it could be his last home game.

Wally Buono, coaching his last season with the BC Lions, is known for treating all players and staff, whatever their position, with tremendous respect, writes Pat Macken. (Wikimedia photo)

Buono has always put his Christian faith front and centre when he leads others into battle. He lives by the verse from Colossians 3: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as for the Lord.”

He is known for treating all players and staff, whatever their position, with tremendous respect. Joining him at the Nov. 3 game is a way to show our respect to him for his wonderful example.   

Faith and Family Night is made even more special when you go as a group from your parish. Aaron Martin, who works for the Lions and is also a parishioner at Immaculate Conception in Delta, says “This is one personal favourite of the events we run, and we had a fantastic turnout last season. There’s no minimum amount of people that have to come out from any given church or school, so the more people, the merrier.”

Devout Catholics who are sports fans may often wonder where there are displays of faith in sports. Last year the Lions had some 750 stay after the game to acknowledge and listen to these athletes tell their stories. So talk it up, as it is very important that we let the team and league know how much we appreciate this effort.

By the way, the game should be fantastic. The Stampeders have been the class of the league this year, but the Lions recently defeated them in Calgary and are looking to lock up a playoff spot with a Nov. 3 win. With Vancouver sports teams, playoff spots have been few and far between recently, and with tickets for Faith and Family Night selling for $30, that’s a tough price to beat for a professional sporting event in this market today.

I hope we see you out at B.C. Place Stadium on Nov. 3 joining other people of faith in what should be a fun event.  

Details:  Tickets $30 (regularly $35) for the Nov. 3 game against the Calgary Stampeders include an opportunity to stay for a post-game performance from a local worship band and an opportunity to listen to players and coaches talk about the importance of their faith, family, and football. Those who attend will receive a BC Lions flag. For tickets, contact the Lions’ Aaron Martin at 604-930-5454 or [email protected] Or order directly at bit.ly/2yOQ04j and use promo code RCAV.

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At the Nov. 3 game, former Holy Cross Regional Secondary principal Bob DeJulius will be inducted into the B.C. Football Hall of Fame. DeJulius was the founding principal of Holy Cross and spent nearly three decades there, retiring in 2010. Here’s his Hall of Fame biography:

Bob DeJulius

Bob had two main passions – education and football.

As a player, he learned the basics of the game suiting up for the Notre Dame Jugglers of BC High School Football and the CYO of the Big 4 Junior League. He would attend both UBC and SFU and obtained a teaching degree. He would begin his coaching career and teaching career at Vancouver College before returning to Notre Dame.

Bob DeJulius after the Holy Cross Crusaders won the Pepsi Bowl in 2007. (Submitted photo)

After a stint at Notre Dame, Bob would then move to SFU where he would serve as an assistant coach before taking over as head coach. He would be there for a 10-year period and was part of what was known as the golden period for SFU football. He guided the team to an undefeated 10-0 season in 1970 and, under his tutelage, 31 players from the Clan program went on to play in the CFL including the likes of Lui Passaglia, Glen Jackson, and Nick Hebeler.

Bob would move back to the high school ranks in 1980, becoming head coach at Vancouver College, before moving on to become the founding principal and head football coach at Holy Cross Secondary in Surrey in 1982. He would remain at Holy Cross until retiring in 2010.

Bob not only oversaw the development of many great players who would make their mark on professional football, but also developed many individuals who would go on to give back to football in the province at the high school level, many of whom have become legends and hall-of-famers in their own right including the likes of Denis Kelly, George Oswald, Tom Kudaba, Frank Roberto, Shawn Olson, and Jay Prepchuk.

Also being inducted into the B.C. Football Hall of Fame this year are the 1968 Notre Dame Jugglers. The team’s Hall of Fame write-up reads:

1968 Notre Dame Jugglers

Every dynasty has to start somewhere and, for the case of BC High School Football’s Notre Dame Jugglers, it began in 1968.

The 1968 was the beginning of a modern-day dynasty. Over a 26-year period from 1968 to 1993, the Jugglers captured 14 provincial titles while making 18 trips to the provincial final. This included a pair of three-peat periods from 1970-72 and again from 1987 to 1989. But the 1968 team is the one that started it off when they beat Steveston Secondary in the final by a 26-6, capturing the third ‘Shrine Bowl’, as a perfect cap to their 9-0 season where they scored 276 points while allowing just 13.

It was that 1968 team that established a sense of hard work and perseverance into the program that has seen them grow to become arguably the most prolific in all of BC High School Football not only winning 14 senior provincial championships, but six junior titles and five Grade 8 titles along the way. The 25 combined titles is the most by any Catholic or public high school. The 1968 Notre Dame Jugglers are celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2018.

The 1968 Notre Dame Jugglers team, which is being inducted into the B.C. Football Hall of Fame this year. (B.C. Football Hall of Fame photo)

With files from The B.C. Catholic