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The Holy Trinity Pride football team suffered a devastating fire to their field house that engulfed their locker room, weight room and all of the team’s equipment, but hope was not lost.

The fire, which was reported as an arson by the Schenectady Police Department, happened less than 48 hours before Holy Trinity’s first ever playoff game. No one thought that they’d be able to play, but because of the community outreach and Holy Trinity’s “never say die” attitude the game went on as scheduled.

Thousands of dollars and equipment poured in from local schools which helped Holy Trinity, a team comprised of Spa Catholic in Troy and Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons in Schenectady, get back on their feet and start the rebuilding process. Just about every school in Section II pitched in and donated some type of equipment or money.

“I get emotional when I talk about football. It’s a big part of my life and to see the community and everybody come out to support us the way they did it’s unbelievable,” said Holy Trinity Head Coach John Barber. “The whole coaching community helps each other out tremendously.”

Barber built the fieldhouse a few years back as a “clubhouse” for his players to bond. The hands on coach wanted a place for his team to get to know each other being that they were from two different schools.

“We’re not with all the guys in the other schools. That’s where we got to know each other,” said Junior offensive lineman Tom Thayer. “During doubles we just bonded in there joking around. It’s still kind of hard to believe that it’s gone.”

Thayer and his team had less than a day to deal with the tragedy and prepare for their first playoff game in team history. The game would take place on Saturday 10/22 against the Hoosic

Valley Indians, who are ranked third in the state.

The Pride were unsure how they were going to make it, but they knew deep down that nothing could keep them from competing. Even a fire.

“We may look like a bunch of hooligans but we’ll be padded up and ready to go,” said Barber in an interview with the Times Union.

It wasn’t until after that interview that coach Barber was contacted by the University at Albany. The school donated their football team’s away jerseys for the Pride to wear in their game against Hoosic Falls.

“I sent coach (Greg) Gattuso a text late last night being honored to wear those uniforms,” said Barber.

UAlbany had to get a special waiver in order to donate the uniforms. Under the NCAA rules of compliance, no school is allowed to give merchandise to a prospected college athlete if they are using it to recruit or not.

When reached for a comment the school replied, “Per NCAA compliance rules, we can’t self-publicize the donation since it was to a high school (prospective student-athletes),” said Elizabeth Barlow, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations.

The kids looked great. I couldn’t ask for anything more with that. They were excited to put them on in the locker room,” said Barber. “One boy showed up at the school all dressed up ready to go with a couple hours to go yet.”

Thayer was just as excited as the next guy to be wearing a collegiate uniform, “It was kind of unreal at first. I didn’t really believe it to be honest to you.”

Thayer and his teammates briefly got a taste to see what it looks like to play at the next lever. “It’s something that we all want. We all want to keep playing. Hopefully some of us will keep playing. Their generosity was just great,” said Thayer.

It’s going to take some time for the program to fully recover from the fire. So far the community has raised almost $50,000 in donations, but that’s only a fraction of replacing a facility that could cost around half a million dollars. Barber and his team are prepared to do whatever it takes to restore the fieldhouse.

“We’ll rebuild. We’ll go at it. We built a press box last summer and we’ll build

fieldhouse this summer,” said an emotional Barber.

Holy Trinity did end up losing their first playoff game to a formidable opponent, but in that defeat a moral victory was found giving not only Holy Trinity but the community a sense of Pride.


John C. Longton III is the sports editor of the Albany Student Press. He previously served as sports editor for Hudson Valley Community College's student newspaper, the Hudsonian. Longton also works for Townsquare Media, the Albany Patroons, and runs his own podcast weekly, Rated R Sports.

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