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HomeLocalCatholic EducationBishop Machebeuf High School: Continuing a Legacy of Athletic Excellence

Bishop Machebeuf High School: Continuing a Legacy of Athletic Excellence

This article is the sixth of a 10-part series that seeks to shed light on these and other tremendous things happening at Bishop Machebeuf High School. For more information about Bishop Machebeuf High School or if you are interested in applying, please visit machebeuf.org.

Part 1: Honoring the Past. Celebrating the Present. Engaging the Future. 

Part 2: Forming Disciples of Christ

Part 3: A transformative education through Catholic Liberal Arts

Part 4: Dr. Bonta announces departure from Bishop Machebeuf High School; new president named 

Part 5: Creating Vibrant Student Life

Bishop Machebeuf has a rich legacy of athletic excellence. Whether the achievements came at the original campus or at the new Lowry campus, all one has to do is look at the trophy cases and record boards to see the success: Baseball Team 2005 State Championship, Cheer Team Championships in 2014 & 2021, Girls Basketball Championships in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1986, 2003, & 2007. In fact, the Girls’ Basketball team had the longest winning streak in state history with 74 wins between ’80 and ’83, a record they held until 2009. Even now, the 75-game streak puts the school as third longest ever in Colorado history.

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There are countless names of successful Machebeuf athletes from over the years that are very familiar to alumni and supporters. Names like Brown, Crotty, Degna, Doherty, Espinola, Grandon, Green, Hensel. Or Howell, Hutchinson, Jenkins, Joseph, Kipp, Madrid-Andrews, and McGarrity. Or perhaps McKague, Meidl, Montoya, Moser, Muratalla, or Murdock. Palmer, Panek, Pennefather, Prevedel, Punzi, Robinson, Timlin, Tracey, White, and so many more! With State appearances in the last two school years by Boys’ Golf, Girls’ and Boys’ Cross Country Teams, and Boys’ Soccer, as well as a State Championship title in Cheer, the legacy of Bishop Machebeuf High School’s high-quality and competitive athletic program continues. All of this doesn’t even include metro and district championships, all of which is amazing given the smaller size of the school!

Bishop Machebeuf’s 1982 girls’ basketball team held the state record for the longest winning streak for many years. They are only one example of the athletic excellence Bishop Machebeuf is known for. (File photo)

President-Principal Dr. Tony Bonta said, “Bishop Machebeuf has a rich history and tradition of excellence in athletics. Since 1958, Machebeuf Athletics has been a crucial component for developing gifts and talents, skills, teamwork, diversity, sportsmanship, and character in our students. We are committed to continuing this legacy.” Currently, the school offers eleven sports: Baseball, Boys and Girls Basketball, Cheer, Boys and Girls Cross Country, Boys and Girls Golf, Boys Soccer, Track and Volleyball. “People have mentioned that we are cutting sports; that is not true. The only things that prevent us from offering a sport are a lack of facilities, or the lack of numbers to fill a roster. I know that incoming President Mr. Erich Hoffer is also a big proponent of athletics, too. He will add great enthusiasm and continued commitment to athletics and the legacy of athletics at Machebeuf.”

Thomas McCarty is Bishop Machebeuf’s Athletic Director and a graduate of the class of 2015. While sports like football, swimming and lacrosse are not currently offered at Bishop Machebeuf, he explained nothing is stopping those sports from coming back in the future if circumstances change.

“The sports program is not going away. I think there’s been a lot of misconceptions about the reasons certain sports are no longer offered here, but the bottom line is — it’s just numbers.” McCarty said. But that doesn’t mean they can’t still play the sport.

In the case of those sports that Bishop Machebeuf does not currently offer, McCarty clarified that there are still ways students can play. “When football went away here, we immediately started looking for other opportunities for the students to play. If students want to play any sport we don’t offer, they enter what’s called ‘a school without a program.’” This ‘school without a program’ designation means students can still attend Bishop Machebeuf but become eligible to play a particular sport at a nearby school. McCarty mentioned he is always open to adding new sports like boys’ volleyball or even Esports to the many sports Bishop Machebeuf currently offers. “That’s been one of my big things. If we don’t offer it, I’ll do whatever I can behind the scenes to make it happen. Again, it’s all about the students and supporting their interests.”

Bishop Machebeuf Athletics, within the third pillar of Student Life, support the school’s overall mission and purpose

Through their athletic programs, Bishop Machebeuf wants their students to see sports in the same way St. John Paul II did: as training the body and spirit for “perseverance, effort, courage, balance, sacrifice, honesty, friendship, and collaboration.” These skills contribute to Bishop Machebeuf’s overall mission of comprehensive, holistic Catholic education and extends them beyond the classroom. Superintendent of Catholic Schools Elias Moo reinforced the importance of athletics in this way, adding, “An athletics program is a key element of the holistic formative experience for our young men and women because it can strengthen Christian virtue in young men and women in ways that can’t happen solely in the classroom.”

The Cheer team took home first place in the state championship this year — an accomplishment they are extremely proud of. (Photo provided)

Mrs. Mandi Lopez, Bishop Machebeuf’s co-ed Cheer Team Head Coach, is proud of her team for fighting hard and bringing home the State Championship title this year after finishing in second place the past two seasons. “This year, we achieved our goal. We all worked so hard to make it happen. We have 10 seniors on our team, and they’ve all been here since that first year when I started with this program. This is extremely special to us.”

Lopez celebrates the opportunities to develop the athletes on her team. She strives to teach lessons that will serve them for the rest of their lives. “Athletics helps every single teenager with discipline, dedication, teamwork, and loving everybody because they’re God’s child and they’re on your team,” she said. “Because when they leave Bishop Machebeuf, they will need to be able to have relationships and show love, compassion, and respect for every single one of God’s children.”

Harold Siegel, Assistant Principal for Academics and Boys’ Soccer coach, emphasized that his goal as a coach is always to pursue and maintain the deeper mission of Bishop Machebeuf. He connected this greater mission to the team’s recent State Tournament appearance. Even though they lost in the first round to the eventual State Champions, the real success for him was in the bigger takeaway the team had in spite of their disappointing end to the season. “We ended on a cold late October night in Carbondale. A Diocesan priest was with us on the field and told the boys at Mass earlier that day that they were representing the Church — and that as good as it could be to win and progress, this was about something bigger than that. That, to me, made the whole trip pretty special but also gave it meaning. We are incredibly intentional about playing highly technical, unselfish, team-oriented, highly competitive soccer, but on the other hand, the deeper purpose is to build disciples and build young men.”

Baseball: Honoring the Past and Looking to the Future

The baseball program has a strong history of contributing to the formation of young men at Bishop Machebeuf. Danny Young is a 2005 alumnus of Bishop Machebeuf and played on the Boys’ Baseball team that won the State Championship his senior year. He has fond memories of his time at the school and especially of helping his father, Tom Young, who led a grassroots effort, rallying local business leaders and other volunteers to participate, donate materials, and build the championship team’s home field. “There have been a lot of really good coaches and people involved in Bishop Machebeuf high school athletics throughout the years. They did it because they wanted to enrich the students’ lives and take good care of them.”

The baseball program has long been a staple at Bishop Machebeuf, and the school’s leadership reassures that it is there to stay. (Photo provided)

Recently, the decision was made to sell the baseball field as a way to reinvest in the future of the school program. However, there are no plans to end the baseball program. The Machebeuf Administration is actively looking for a new location to become their new home field. In the meantime, Dr. Bonta stressed that the high school will continue offering baseball and is committed to honoring the history of Machebeuf Baseball. “Bishop Machebeuf has high hopes for the team’s last season on that particular field. We are looking forward to celebrating the legacy of the baseball field, honoring the 2005 State Championship team, and thanking all those Machebeuf members who played and supported baseball all of these years by hosting a barbeque with current students, families, and alumni during the team’s last home game of the regular season against Arrupe Jesuit on May 14, 2022. Everyone is encouraged to attend this game!”

Bishop Machebeuf offers students the opportunity to participate in multiple sports

Bishop Machebeuf has many three- and four-sport athletes. McCarty is proud of the abundance of students’ athletic opportunities at Bishop Machebeuf High School. “One of the things I tell prospective students is, ‘At Bishop Machebeuf, you’re going to have an opportunity to play meaningful varsity minutes early on in your career.’ If students work hard and put in the effort, they may get rewarded early on in their career by playing those varsity sports at Bishop Machebeuf.”

The Boys’ and Girls’ Cross Country teams have seen major successes in the last two school years. In the fall of 2021, both the Boys’ and Girls’ teams qualified for the State tournament for the first time since 2015. Junior Gema Hernandez qualified individually for both Cross Country and Track last year. In reflecting on her accomplishments, she said, “I’ve discovered I’m good at running because of Bishop Machebeuf. Running pushes me to be more determined and apply that to other aspects of my life. It takes dedication, and when I bring that into my faith life or academics, I can see all that I’m capable of and remember, ‘If I can run 10 miles, I can take this test and succeed too.’ I don’t ever feel like quitting because I know I can do it.”

Junior Sean McGarrity, following in the footsteps of his brother, Thomas, who competed in the 2020 Golf State Championship, competed in the 2021 Golf State Championship. “I love that a lot of athletes come together to play on the golf team. We all come together: football players, soccer players, basketball players, and baseball players. The other thing I love is meeting students from other schools and seeing other perspectives.” Sean also played in the State Championship tournament for soccer last year, and also landed the lead role in the school’s upcoming production of West Side Story. “I’m always learning, always developing. Whether it’s golf, soccer, or academics in general, I’m learning, ‘wow, I can actually do these things!’”

That’s one of the beautiful things about Bishop Machebeuf — that students can try so many different sports and activities, rather than specializing in just one or two, bringing together students who attended many different elementary schools to form one united community.

One way Bishop Machebeuf tries to foster the spirit of collegiality between all of the Catholic feeder schools is through a partnership with the Catholic School Athletic League (CSAL). In the fall of 2021, Bishop Machebeuf hosted a flag football game for CSAL and a cross country race. In March, Bishop Machebeuf will host the CSAL Volleyball Camp. Mrs. Dakota Pesce, Dean of Enrollment Management at Bishop Machebeuf, shared, “We love to have the CSAL students come to Bishop Machebeuf and interact with our students. In this way, they get to see the great things happening in the classrooms and hallways as well as in athletics, helping them see and understand what Bishop Machebeuf is all about.”

Athletic Director McCarty also stressed the deeper goal of athletics in forming young men and women. “Athletics is an important part of high school and high school fun in general. Whether it’s cheering on their peers from the stands or learning how to be good teammates themselves, it’s a chance for the kids to represent Bishop Machebeuf in a positive way and support their fellow students. Sports, more so than anything else in the school, provide students with learning experiences and challenges they might face in life. Bishop Machebeuf athletics supports the mission of the school by committing to forming the hearts, minds, and souls of our students. We develop confident leaders who are ready to live joyful lives of faith, scholarship, and service.”

Bishop Machebeuf Fight Song

Oh, we’re from the great Machebeuf High
And we’ll cheer as our team passes by
We’re loyal, steadfast and bold
To our colors of green and gold.
We’ll stand by our high school as one,
And then when the victory is over,
We’ll stand up and shout:

MACHEBEUF HIGH!

Our voices ring, our voices sing
For dear old Machebeuf!

Fight!

Fight!

Fight! Fight! Fight!

John Wojtasek
John Wojtasek
John loves walking alongside brands and causes he believes in. Using proven storytelling and marketing frameworks, he develops clear messaging and communication that helps them serve more people with their life-changing solutions. A lifelong Catholic, John has served as a FOCUS Missionary from 2013-2016 and is passionate about building up the Kingdom and Family of God. John is a freelance contributor to the Denver Catholic.
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