Virgadamo more than just name on a trophy
Published 3:10 pm Thursday, July 2, 2015
While making the rounds this week, I stumbled across a smorgasbord of state championship and runner-up trophies sitting on a cart in the office at St. Aloysius. They were all from this past athletic year — about a half-dozen in all — sitting in a neat row on its top shelf, waiting to be put in the trophy case.
All except one.
On the cart’s bottom shelf, placed lengthwise so it would fit, was an older trophy with a faded cup and a little football man on the top. Inscribed on the cup were the words, “Class of 1948, Anthony Virgadamo.”
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It was a fitting find a few days before Independence Day.
Anyone who attended St. Al knows that the Virgadamo Award goes to the school’s top football player each year. On-field success, as well as leadership, are factored into the selection. It is, perhaps, the school’s highest athletic honor.
After more than 60 years, what’s probably less well-known is who Anthony Virgadamo was.
Virgadamo was a standout athlete, but wasn’t a leading figure in the Jackson Diocese, or a longtime teacher or friend of the school. He was just a guy who graduated, joined the military, and went off to fight in the Korean War.
He was killed in action, but his friends and classmates made certain his memory lived on. They christened the Virgadamo award shortly after his death, and it’s been given to a leader on the football team every year since the early 1950s.
Saturday is July 4, or Independence Day if you prefer, and it’s one of three holidays when military service and patriotism are celebrated, along with Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Each has its own specific purpose, but they all tie together, and none of them would be possible without young men and women like Anthony Virgadamo.
Those who fight, those who put their lives on the line, those who die, we can never thank and honor enough. Maybe all we can do is buy them a beer (root or alcoholic) or cook them a hamburger just the way they like it.
Above all, remember the sacrifices they’ve made. You might only hear Virgadamo’s name a couple of times a year when the trophy is dusted off its shelf, but without his ultimate gift none of this — not just the award, but the Friday night football games that go with it and the freedom to go — would be possible.
Ernest Bowker is a sports writer. He can be reached at 601-619-7120, or at firstname.lastname@example.org