It was one of those surreal moments that remain etched in your memory.
After the Redemptorist baseball players emptied a water cooler on top of coach Daniel Jewett, following a 10-0 victory over The Dunham School on Friday night, there was another encounter near second base.
Jewett greeted Sammy Rispone with a hug. Rispone, who played on Redemptorist’s first baseball team in 1953, had come to see the Wolves in their final regular-season scheduled sports event at home.
“I was here for the first one, and I figured I should be here for the last one,” Rispone said before the game.
The Wolves made the trip to Emerald Park special with a six-inning win that capped an 8-0 finish in District 6-2A. Redemptorist has won two straight 6-2A titles and has a 15-1 record over the last two district seasons.
One could argue there has been little to celebrate since the Diocese of Baton Rouge announced plans in December to close the school at the end of the school year, citing enrollment drops over the past decade.
There was a celebration Friday night.
Jewett told Rispone and other alumni who came out to the game that the goal is to have a home playoff game. The Wolves sit at No. 21 in the most recent Class 2A power rankings that don’t take into account the team’s recent games.
An optimistic Jewett is hopeful that his team can improve that power ranking with a couple of nondistrict wins before the LHSAA releases its playoff pairings this week. He said the Wolves have an outside chance at a No. 16 seed and a home game in the first round.
A more likely scenario is a road game in the first round. Redemptorist has won eight of its past 10 games and is on a roll. If the Wolves (14-14) win a playoff game on the road, they’ll likely get that home playoff game that is so desired.
If neither scenario works out, there will always be Friday night. And what a night it was.
Rain and a short lightning delay during the junior varsity game gave way to sunny skies mixed with clouds before nightfall. The Wolves lit up the night with enough offensive fireworks to end the game a little early.
Students and alumni gathered on the field to sing the alma mater afterward. Pictures were taken. Dunham fans and players respectfully watched from a distance.
Redemptorist alum Chip Duhe surveyed the scene from the Tigers dugout.
“It’s a good night to be a Redemptorist graduate,” Duhe said with a smile as he waited for his son, a Tigers player. “Not so good as a Dunham parent.”
Most of the Redemptorist students, parents and some alumni lingered on the field a long while after the game. A few youngsters ran the bases.
Yes it was definitely worth the trip to Emerald Park.
Sadly the past two weeks have been about losses that go beyond the Redemptorist closure.
Funeral services for long-time Tara boys basketball coach Larry Grantham were held Friday.
Services for former Redemptorist standout Mendell Esnault, the older brother of University High running back Nick Brossette, an LSU signee, were Saturday.
Not to be overlooked was the cancer-related death of Jane Kirschner, the wife of former Woodlawn High and Christian Life basketball coach Rod Kirschner.
So many raw emotions for everyone involved.
Grantham’s wife, Jerisse, shared the story of a former Tara student. The woman said she had a rough home life and Grantham was the first classroom teacher to show her she had value as a person.
Former Tara assistant and Belaire coach Michael Banks offered, “He (Grantham) changed my life. If it had never been for him, I wouldn’t have been a coach. I was a math teacher when he asked me to come coach with him.”
And then on Twitter there’s the image of a new tattoo Brossette has with “Mendel.” He adds the statement “He will never be forgotten. #MendellLegacy.”