Did that really happen? Did we just have the great Mike Ditka on our campus? The answer is yes, yes, and yes! Episcopal's Father and Son Dinner was a night to remember as family and friends gathered together in the Webster's Refectory to honor our young champions. Rumor had it that someone special was coming to town, but kudos to the Athletic Department for maintaining such tight lips and making the surprise one that will go down in Episcopal history. Although soft spoken throughout the evening, it was obvious that the fiery coach still has the passion to inspire.
When asked what was the most important thing in his life, Ditka unapologetically pointed to his faith above all of his football accolades. The former coach of the Saints also motivated our young men to focus on their education - sport was important, but education trumped sport. Another noteworthy moment of the night was Ditka's conviction to never be ashamed to celebrate winning, to believe wholeheartedly that any given person can achieve and be the best if they only believed.
It was one thing to see the faces of our students when this legendary man walked in the door. It was another thing to see the faces of the fathers and coaches as one of their childhood idols took the podium. Defensive Coach Jimmy Williams's most memorable moment was hearing Ditka speak so highly of his former players Walter Payton and Jim McMahon. " You knew these guys were such great players but to hear how great they were as people was pleasant to hear."
So why all the drama surrounding Ditka? This was the man that motivated many of our coaches and fathers to pick up the pigskin, take the field and pursue the dream of a Champion.
It was a great honor to host this successful sportsman, and a great time with our own champions.
Special thank you to Wayne Stabiler and Wayne Stabiler Catering for the meal and inviting Coach Ditka. Thanks also to our MC Otey White and our Junior liaison moms Frankie Edenfield, Theresa St. Romain and Lauren Eglin.
Mike Ditka, byname of Michael Keller Ditka, also called Iron Mike (born Oct. 18, 1939, Carnegie, Pa.,) American gridiron football player and head coach. In the 1960s and early ’70s he proved himself one of professional football’s greatest tight ends, using his talent for catching passes to revolutionize his position. After retiring as a player, Ditka embarked on a successful coaching career, the highlight of which came in 1986 when he led the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl victory.
Ditka served as an assistant coach for the Cowboys from 1973 to 1981, during which time the team captured its second Super Bowl title, in 1978. He became head coach of the Bears in 1982. His tenure as coach in Chicago was marked by some of the franchise’s greatest moments: six National Football Conference (NFC) Central Division titles, three appearances in the NFC title game, and a Super Bowl victory. His wildly popular 1985 team, which included legendary running back Walter Payton and one of the best defenses in NFL history, lost only a single game during the regular season and routed the New England Patriots by a score of 46–10 in Super Bowl XX. Ditka thus became one of only two men to experience Super Bowl wins as a player, as an assistant coach, and as a head coach. In both 1985 and 1988 Ditka was voted the NFL Coach of the Year.
In 1988 Ditka was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the first tight end ever to receive the honor. In 1994 Ditka was one of two tight ends named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
"Mike Ditka". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 04 Nov. 2016