R.E.S.P.E.C.T.  was a song recorded by Aretha Franklin in 1967 becoming one of her signature songs and smash hits on the billboards that year.   One of the opening lyrics of the song asks the question, “Do you know I got it?”.

The question refers to one of the most important questions Mount Carmel Area (MCA) football players and coaches have been asking themselves as they get ready to take the field each and every year.  Respect is a basic human need just like eating or breathing.  There is something that makes up an individual’s psyche that creates a deep need to satisfy this singular emotion.  In fact, respect is something that all human beings strive for in their personal and professional lives every day.  In some ways you could say it is also a State-of-Mind for anyone who has played MCA football over the intervening years since this song was a hit five decades ago.

Last year was a pivotal year for MCA football program.  A new Head Coach, only 28 players, and a lot of question marks on the upcoming season.  But the one thing that was not in question was that like all MCA teams that team earned its own special brand of respect.

As I drove my son Ethan to college last weekend to begin his freshman year at Penn State we talked about the upcoming MCA football season.  As we drove along route 192 enjoying each other’s company and watching the farm landscapes slowly transition to forest it was Ethan who brought up this idea of respect.  He said,” You know Dad, the one thing our team did was gain respect from the other teams.”   He continued, “I remember many games when Kyle Karycki would have a great run bursting through the line, and then mowing down 2 or 3 of the defenders on his own, other members of the opposing team would come up to Kyle and say wow what a great run!”  Or “They would say to other players on our team good play!”

Ethan’s comments got me to thinking that this is what all MCA teams strive for each year.  These young men take the field each and every year to earn respect.  Not only earn the respect of the others team’s players.  But to earn the respect of their family, friends, coaches, community and most importantly each other.  That is what the MCA Football program is all about teaching respect, and what it means to be respectful of others.  I am always surprised how this lesson learned on the Anthracite Gird Iron translates into so many other aspects of their lives.

Ethan would often come home from school and talk about his conversations with Mr. Frank “Dabby” Niglio, one of the great wide receivers in MCA history.  Ethan would relay to me some of the stories Frank would share with him during study hall.  I could just see what a powerful effect that these conversations had on my son.  Frank not only had earned respect on the field so many years ago but he also had my son’s respect for Frank’s many accomplishments on and off the field.  Frank’s own life and his early days as an MCA football player instilled this idea and in turn he now teaches others the meaning of respect and still imparts it to others 50 years later.

The respect that Ethan had for Frank was just another example of how this concept of respect is passed along, and transcends generations of MCA players.  I can only imagine of how many past MCA players maintain this tradition of teaching others what they learned so many years ago from the likes of Mike Terry, Jazz Diminick, Whitey Williams, and Mike Brennan to name a few of our legendary coaches over the years. Ultimately, it was never about playoffs, District Titles, or State Championships for these men.  First and foremost, it was about teaching the game of football and instilling the players with this concept of respect.  All the wins and championships that have followed were just a natural outgrowth of these lessons learned on the practice and football fields.

As we drove along I started to think about these singular statements made by my son who was a MCA Torandoe, and had always wanted to be one since the first time he went to a Mount Carmel game with me.  He worked hard over the years just like all the other kids did to hopefully one day play in the Silver Bowl.  And the reason why he and all the other players spend hours on and off the field lifting weights, training, learning plays, and working hard is to achieve that very same respect.

As the 2016 MCA football players and coaches take the field this year remember they are striving for their own brand of respect.  Knowing that respect is not given but earned.  So please give them all your support because it is more than just a football game but also a lesson that transcends generations in this little Coal Region town.


Go Big Red!


Author: Steve Bartos

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