A legacy for life: more than just metal?

Athletic successes immortalized through plaques


Photo by Matteo Azari

IHSA plaques line the walls of Cahill gym.

A student entering Saint Viator’s sports corridor is blown away by the countless number of jerseys and trophies that seem to dazzle the space. Somehow, the entire room seems to glow and it is as if each sparkling case holds a story that is simply waiting to be told.

Upon entering the gym, a large number of huge plaques are displayed that seem to scream of the accomplishments of past student athletes. A student athlete winning state would be forever immortalized by a sleek piece of metal that continues their legacy, even after they have left Viator. One cannot help but to wonder: How are these beautiful plaques made? What is the story and origin behind them?

“State plaques, to me, are a physical representation of all the hard work a team puts into a season,” said junior Kate Nottoli, a varsity volleyball player.

Once the plaques are set in place, they remain for years as pristine and perfect as when they first arrived. Not surprising, it is a difficult process to produce such a perfect result that is durable and lasts longer than the team that won it. Plaques are available in a multitude of different sizes, colors and materials.

“Even as a teacher, I walk through the halls and I’m able to see and understand the great memories a team has formed,” said Spanish teacher Mrs. Elyse Slezak.

Saint Viator competes in the Eastern Suburban Catholic Conference, or ESCC. In addition to receiving awards to recognize and celebrate a team’s victory in state playoffs, other awards are granted such as Player of the Year and Coach of the Year. Despite what one may think, different awards are endowed depending on the sport an athlete participates in.

Any award, ranging from a state award to MVP, is held dear to an athlete’s heart. It contains a memory that is irreplaceable and emotions that cannot be expressed.

“I know for our volleyball team this year it will always hold a special place in our heart because it was our first trip to state,” said Nottoli. “We made history and to be able to come back years later and look back at our accomplishments is something I will cherish forever. All the blood, sweat and tears were worth it.”

As shiny as an award can be, its background contains a dark past full of struggles and hardships a player endured to achieve what was thought to be only a dream. The award holds an emotional value to the player, but it remains a simple piece of metal thats purpose is only to remind of the past. However, it means so much more than just that.

“I think state plaques have an impact on the younger and future players going through the program,” said senior Michaela Mueller, also a varsity volleyball player. “It shows them that they can hopefully get the chance to achieve something great of Saint Viator volleyball one day too!”

Therefore, plaques hold an additional purpose that at times is overlooked. It serves as an inspiration to incoming students of what they should strive to accomplish. Every day a student is forced to look upon greatness and success, and it should push them to continue the Viator legacy. Even though a team may have won the game alone, the entire school was cheering them on from the sidelines.