Five years ago, St. Katharine Drexel Prep, called Xavier Prep at the time, almost closed its doors for good because of financial struggles. But former students raised the money and revived the school under its new name.
Fast forward to the 2017-18 school year, when the all-girl school’s athletic program captured two LHSAA state championships in basketball and track.
“For us to do what we have been able to do under the circumstances, it says a lot,” said St. Katharine Drexel Prep athletic director Terry Wilson. “From almost closing the doors to doing this, I don’t think there’s a better story around here.”
Because of these accomplishments, St. Katharine Drexel’s athletics department, will be presented with the Eddie Robinson Award as part of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Banquet on Saturday, Aug. 4 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Robinson Award is presented annually to an athlete, coach, team or athletic administrator in Louisiana who demonstrates the qualities most associated with Grambling’s legendary football coach, Eddie Robinson: outstanding achievement in athletics, academics, sportsmanship and citizenship by maximizing the use of limited resources.
St. Katharine Drexel Prep's gym is too small to meet LHSAA requirements to host playoff games, so the team played their home playoff game at McMain High School.
The track team doesn’t have a track, so it practices at facilities around the city.
“It was tough,” Wilson said. “We got through it because we put in the time, the hard work. We had a plan. We stuck with it. It was hard work, but it was smart work.”
Wilson also serves as the coach of the basketball team, while Don McGhee coaches the track team. But Wilson is quick to point out the accomplishments were a group effort.
“We had people around us like the owners, the administrators, the principals, everybody,” Wilson said. “Everybody deserves some of the credit. It means a lot for the school so we can continue to push our name and keep the doors open and to keep the Prep dream alive.”
Making the basketball season even more special is that the championship victory over rival St. Mary’s came on March 3. That date is the feast day to observe St. Katharine Drexel, who died on that date in 1955.
“It’s like it was meant to be,” Wilson said.
And for Wilson, the award means even more considering he has ties to Robinson. Wilson’s brother Gregory played football at Grambling under Robinson. And Wilson has his master’s degree from Grambling.
But Wilson says there is much more to come from the school that was almost no longer around.
“We’ve only scratched the surface,” Wilson said. “It’s something the former preppers and the new preppers can be proud of.”