Above: A group of "Knight Owls"—those with affection for both the Xavier Knight and the Regis Owl—gather for a group photo at halftime of the Regis-Xavier varsity basketball game.
It's no secret that members of Jesuit school communities often have ties to other Jesuit institutions. Sometimes those ties connect a person to a "rival" Jesuit school. This notion holds true for some members of the Regis and Xavier High School communities who, leading up to this year's annual basketball tripleheader, were appropriately nicknamed "Knight Owls"—those with affection for both the Xavier Knight and the Regis Owl. In advance of the tripleheader match-up, Regis Junior Jake Lem '17 helped design a Knight Owl logo which was then printed on shirts for the small group of somewhat-conflicted fans of both schools.
(Pictured: the Knight Owl logo designed by Jake Lem '17)
It turns out that a number of students, alumni, parents, friends, faculty, and staff are linked in some way to both institutions. Most prominently, the 2015-2016 academic year is unique in that the presidents of both institutions are Knight Owls. Regis President Fr. Jim Croghan, S.J. is the rector of the Xavier Jesuit Community, while Xavier President Mr. John Raslowsky is a Regis '14 parent and the parent of a current Xavier student. Fr. Croghan and Mr. Raslowsky also happen to be close friends.
"Jack and I have been friends for close to 30 years, and I think we both see that what our schools share in common runs much deeper than the surface differences," said Fr. Croghan.
"Jack has great affection for Regis. He served on the Regis board when he was the Provincial Assistant for Secondary Education and his son had a fantastic experience here. Besides living at Xavier, as rector I serve ex officio on the board and I have seen up close Jack's extraordinary work as president. He is one of the best in Jesuit high schools today. I'd say Jack's deepest loyalty is to Jesuit education, and he is absolutely committed to seeing it lived as fully as possible at Xavier, and I know he wants the same for Regis."
(Pictured: A "presidential photo"—Fr. Jim Croghan, S.J. and Mr. Jack Raslowsky at halftime of the Regis-Xavier varsity basketball game.)
Raslowsky admits that he has had a lot of experience in balancing his affection for both schools, given his elder son, John, graduated Regis in 2014, while his younger son, Christian, is a member of Xavier's class of 2016.
"When John was applying to Regis, he asked me, 'Dad, if I apply to Regis, and if I am admitted, and if I choose to go, and if I make the basketball team, and if we are playing Xavier, who will you root for?' I responded, 'John, there are a lot of if's there. But, if you applied, and if you are admitted, and if you choose to go, and if you make the team, you should know I will always root for you. So if you are playing Xavier, I hope you have a great game, that you score 20 points that night... and that Regis loses by one!'"
As for his pre-game thoughts on how Fr. Croghan might handle this year's match-up, Raslowsky quipped, "While I know Fr. Croghan will be silently rooting for [my son] Christian tonight, I am sure he hopes it is a great game and that Regis wins by one at the buzzer!"
The school Presidents are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to staff members with affection for both Regis and Xavier. Regis staff who are alumni of Xavier include Chris Febles (Xavier '90 and Regis guidance counselor) and James Gebka (Xavier '09 and Regis database manager for Development).
Xavier staff who are alumni of Regis include Dan Dougherty ’86 (Vice President for Development), and teachers Ed Young ’88, Matt Thomas ’93, Alex Lavy ’99, and Ed Walsh ’06. A host of Regis staff have siblings who graduated from Xavier, and vice versa. Jesuit priests at both schools have spent time at the opposing community as well. Regis Math teacher Brendan MacDonnell is the proud parent of both a current Regis student and a current Xavier student.
Speaking of parents, school allegiance is most complicated for Renee and Gregory Kinsella, who are the proud parents of Finn (Regis '16) and Rory (Xavier '17). Both Finn and Rory play varsity basketball for their respective schools, and both squared off against each other on the court for the first time Friday night.
"When the boys were playing on different teams—Rory on freshman and Finn on JV for example—it was very easy to simply switch which side of the gym we sat on, so that we cheered for the team of the son who was playing," said Renee Kinsella. "This is the first time that the boys were both playing varsity."
Above: Finn Kinsella '16 and Rory Kinsella (Xavier '17) pose for a photo with their parents before the start of the game. Photo: Harisch Studios
For Friday's tripleheader, the Kinsella's ultimately decided to sit in the Regis cheering section. "We discussed our decision with the boys beforehand. Our thinking was that because it is Finn's senior year we will never again have the opportunity to cheer on Finn and many of teammates at this venue, so we had to sit on the Regis side," said Kinsella.
Charlie, Finn and Rory's sister, was not immune to the dual allegiance either. "She wore a Xavier basketball shirt with a Regis sweatshirt on top, and switched her seat from Regis to Xavier every quarter. She also changed her shirt accordingly!" added Kinsella.
The entertainment of this year's tripleheader did not disappoint. Three hard-fought games led to rousing support from fans on both sides of the court. While the Regis freshmen team won a thrilling Game 1 by a final score of 46-43, the Xavier JV and Varsity secured wins in Game 2 and Game 3 with final scores of 53-44 and 66-50, respectively.
Regardless of where true loyalty lies for Knight Owls, members of both communities can celebrate the long-standing Ignatian tradition of forming "men for others" who are educated to serve their church and their communities "for the greater glory of God".
"The most important aspect of Jesuit education is the way in which it immerses our children in the teachings of God and provides a well-rounded education," said Kinsella.
"Jesuit education focuses not only on the intellectual development of the boys but also on their spirituality. Both schools provide amazing Jesuit educations but both are different, and I think they do a great job nurturing the best qualities of the boys in their care. I can honestly say that Finn has loved his four years at Regis. He has received an excellent education and has made friends that I suspect he will have for life. But I can also say exactly the same thing about Rory with Xavier. We are so blessed to have both of these amazing schools in our lives."
Note: The photo at the top of the page showcases the following "Knight Owls" in attendance at halftime of the Regis-Xavier varsity basketball game: (top row) Brendan MacDonnell, Jay McNamee, Matt Thomas '93, Peter Fink, S.J. '56, Jim Croghan, S.J., Jack Raslowsky P'14, Lou Garaventa, S.J., Jim Keenan, S.J., Dennis Baker, S.J., Vin Biagi, S.J., Ed Young '88, Jim Donovan, S.J.; (bottom row) Alex Lavy '99, Giancarlo Milea '11, David Grunner '05, Mario Powell, S.J., James Gebka, Dan Dougherty '86.
(Left) Slater O'Brien '16 vies for the jump ball to start the varsity match-up. (Right) Sean Jennings '16 uses a high screen set by Paul Castaybert '17. Photos: Harisch Studios.
The Regis student fans stood the entire game, offering rowdy cheers and support.
Conor Peterson '16 looks to pass the ball inside to Slater O'Brien '16 early in the first half.
Shane O'Donoghue '16 drives to the basket in the second half.