CHICAGO — A week before the season at team picture day, Ray Holmes applauded when Marist senior football players Dennis Dickman, Taylor Weaver, Brendan Skalitzky, Brent Holder and Darshon McCullough were announced as RedHawks captains.
Then head coach Pat Dunne said Holmes, a senior manager, would be joining them as captains for the entire season.
"It definitely was a shock," said Holmes, 18, of suburban Evergreen Park.
Justin Breen says he's never seen a manager as a captain before:
Dunne, Marist's coach since 2008, had never named a manager a captain. But he said Holmes, who spends 20-plus hours per week recording practices and games, uploading the video to Hudl and keeping track of all the players' equipment, deserved the honor.
"He's exactly what being a part of a team is all about," Dunne said. "He does everything for this team. He does a ridiculous amount of work for us."
Holmes participates in all captains' meetings and joins the five playing upperclassmen for the opening coin toss before every game. That will be the case at 6 p.m. Saturday as well, when Marist hosts fellow 8-4 squad Waubonsie Valley in a surprise IHSA Class 8A state semifinal matchup. The winner advances to Nov. 28's state championship game at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb.
Holmes has been a manager at Marist since he was an eighth-grader at St. John Fisher School in Beverly. He first met Dunne, whose brother worked with Holmes' father in the Cook County state's attorney's office, when Marist was hosting a visit from then-Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees. Dunne introduced Holmes to the Marist players, asked if he'd be interested in serving as a manager, invited him to practice the following day and Holmes was immediately hooked.
"I've never played football, but I love everything about the sport," said Holmes, who is a varsity volleyball player in the spring.
Holmes hasn't made a college choice but wants to serve as a football manager at the next level. His post-graduate goal is to become a football coach or part of a program in some capacity.
He called Marist his "football family." Most of his best friends are RedHawks players and he said it's been an honor to be a captain this season.
"It's definitely a highlight to my career at Marist and will stand out for the rest of my life," he said.
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