My Monroe experience began before school even started as I was to coach volleyball. The program was headed into its second season.
Volleyball season began in August. I walked into the gym on a Monday morning. It smelled like cigarette smoke and there was odd equipment infringing on the gym floor. I was informed Bingo games were played over the summer weekends to raise money for the schools. And, I should realize there would be a garage sale in the gym, too, and then an event called HIPOW the second Saturday of October during which time we’d be out of the gym for at least a week.
I went to meet with Fr. McGuigan, the President of Monroe Foundation, Inc. I likely said something along these lines: “All these events in the gym make it extremely difficult to meet our goals. We need time in the gym to practice. This HIPOW thing is a problem in the middle of the season. It needs to be rescheduled.” Fr. McGuigan, with a combination of directness and gentleness, began educating me on the critical need of fund-raising for the school. And, in short time I would realize that teaching and coaching at Monroe meant moving stuff off the gym floor, giving up the gym, helping with event set-up and take down, being part of the HIPOW wait-staff or runners-spotters, appreciating the intruding events and saying “thank you” to volunteers and donors.
After volleyball season, it was up to coaches, gym teachers, and others to refinish the floor and have it ready for basketball season. Not only did we take care of the floor, but a group of parents and students came in to clean the walls below and behind the wooden bleachers.
With volleyball season behind us, basketball season took off. I had an easier coaching assignment than Steve Frank who had been hired to coach the boys. The girls had been 0-22 in ’78-’79. Winning one game would be a big improvement. The ‘78-‘79 Monroe boys’ team had won state. The expectation for Steve was that they win a second in ’79-’80.
Steve and I were both Lathrop High School graduates, ’72 and ’71 respectively. We were also both UAF alum and UAF basketball players. Both Steve and I had friends assist us including Mike Scanlon, Mike Kelliher, and Mike Fisher amongst others. The girls’ basketball team won four games that year. Mike Scanlon chilled bottles of Apple Cider for us to celebrate. The boys’ team won the state title! It was quite the year.
Since those long-ago days; Mike Kelliher’s son and Mike Fisher’s daughter graduated from Monroe. Mike Scanlon who lives in Anchorage has been to every state basketball tournament Monroe has played in. Steve Frank has served on the Board of Directors for the schools, and he has a grandson at Monroe now.
1979-80 team members Hope Hansen, John Hajdukovich and Mike Grahek have had children attend and graduate from ICS and Monroe.
1979-80 was the first year in what has turned out to be 36 years. The students of the '80s, '90s and 2000s, their parents and grandparents, faculty, and donors are knitted into my very being; blessings in so many ways.
We celebrate Holy Week this week in the Holy Family Chapel. Do you wonder when the chapel was built or how it came to be? I'll write about the groundbreaking next week.
Written by Nancy Cook Hanson for the Spring Matching Fundraiser.