Sokolis and O’Connor Receive Mary and Joseph Medals

The Mary and Joseph Medals are awarded to a senior girl and boy who exemplify the identity and values of Holy Family Catholic High School. These individuals demonstrate a strong, mature faith in Christ while actively participating in the life of the Church. They are knowledgeable of the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church, desire to live like Jesus in their love and service to others, and strive to grow spiritually and intellectually.

The Class of 2019 Mary and Joseph Medal recipients are Emily Sokolis and Brendan O’Connor. Following the commencement, Emily and Brendan shared their thoughts on their faith journey throughout high school.

Emily Sokolis, 2019 Mary Medal Recipient

Emily Sokolis, 2019 Mary Medal Recipient

Family: Rich, Shauna, and Nick ’16
Extracurricular activities/clubs: Hearts on Fire, Pro-life Club, Fencing for seven years, Latin Club
Parish: St. Joseph Catholic Community, Waconia
Middle School: St. Joseph C-STEM School, Waconia
College: St. Norbert College
Major: Environmental Science and Theology

Talk about your involvement in the church (volunteer work, lector/cantor/Eucharistic minister, etc): I volunteer in my church by being a cantor once a month, sometimes more and by being a Confirmation Catechist to the ninth-grade girls who are preparing for their second year of confirmation courses through the parish.

How has your faith developed during your years at HFCHS?
During my freshman and sophomore years, my faith life was almost nonexistent. Like many teenagers, I was not into my faith or the church at all until I attended a mission trip to Haiti through HF that turned my whole life around. By my senior year, I was fully committed to my faith journey and growing outside of my comfort zone to build a relationship with the Lord.

Who has influenced you and your faith?  How?
The person who has had the biggest impact and influence on my faith is Holy Family theology teacher Mr. Bosch.  He helped me turn a passion for service for others into a servitude for God.  Mr. Bosch was always there to answer all the questions I had along the way and gave me amazing advice or prayers to foster growth.

What role does your faith play in your life?
Everything. I believe having faith at the center of your life is a truly authentic way of living. I try to center every choice I make around my faith, and through that, God has opened and closed many doors, all to help me have a better life.

What do you find most rewarding about your faith?
The sense of overall peace and love in my life. No matter how bad I screw up or how stressed I get, I always have an understanding of the love and peace that the Lord showers upon me and each person every day. Also, knowing that earth is not our home and that an even more beautiful place is waiting for all of us in paradise is amazing.

How did you make the most of your years at HFCHS?
I made the most of my four years by being involved in all the opportunities that HFCHS had provided me.  Opportunities such as clubs that foster spiritual and service growth, international history and exchange trips, and mission trips.  Also, by being apart of campus ministry and taking as many classes that can fit into one day (maybe some independent classes on the side)  I was able to take full advantage of my academic career.

Brendan O’Connor, 2019 Joseph Medal Recipient

Joseph Medal 2019 Brendan O' Connor
Brendan O’Connor, 2019 Joseph Medal Recipient

Family: Kathy, and Dan, Molly ’22, and Quinn (Freshman at UST
Extracurricular activities/clubs: Football, Basketball, Environment Club, Honor Society
Parish: St. Hubert Catholic Community, Chanhassen
Middle School: St. Hubert Catholic School, Chanhassen
College: University of Iowa
Major: Online Marketing/Communications/Journalism

What does it mean to you to lead in a Christian way?
To me, this means leading in a respectable way. A Christian leader does not act for the benefit of themselves but, rather, for the benefit of others. You must understand that the decisions you make while leading in a Christian way might not be the most popular or well-liked, but they are the ones that you must stand firm in.

How has your faith developed/changed in your years at HFCHS?
My faith has absolutely strengthened in my years at Holy Family. First, Holy Family has educated me on many aspects of the Church that I did not understand prior to taking the class. My knowledge on the background and foundation of the Church is so much stronger now, which in turn has strengthened my own individual faith. My faith as a community has grown as well. I have become more aware of the idea that faith is not solely individualistic, but rather personal and communal. I learned that faith has a lot to do with the community as well when I realized that my faith was growing stronger because of those around me. The individuals around me that helped strengthen this faith were teammates on sports teams, and peers in class.

Who has influenced you and your faith? How?
My grandparents have influenced me and my faith by being strong role models. They not only attended mass regularly, but they also participated in mass through their singing and responses. They were also great examples in how to respect the sacraments and to always participate in them when possible. However, their greatest influence on my faith came not when they were full of life, but rather near death.

In my Grandpa’s last moments of life he wanted to be doing one thing, praying surrounded by family. He showed me that even in a time where he was in great discomfort, and I’m sure very scared, he could turn to his faith to comfort him because he had such a strong foundation. This exposed me to the power that one’s faith can have. After my Grandparents passed, I learned about how active they were in the church. At the funerals of my grandparents people would come up to me and tell me the impact my Grandparents had on him or her because of their volunteer work in the Church. I realized how many lives they touched because of their strong faith. This is what motivated me to strive for a faith like theirs: one in which I can lean on, and one in which I can affect others.

What do you find most rewarding about your faith?
My faith has rewarded me with the two “C’s”: calm and comfort. No matter the situation, I find these because of the strong foundation of faith I have to lean on.  Even if I am outside my comfort zone, scared or nervous, I find comfort in my faith. I never feel entirely alone.

How did you make the most of your years at HFCHS?
I listened and observed those around me. We can learn so much from simply being in the presence of some individuals at Holy Family. So, how did I make the most of my four years? I just used my resources well. As a student, I kept my eyes and ears open as I acted like a sponge, always ready to soak in new information. I then developed relationships with these people, so that I was more comfortable with them, and I could learn even more. Thank you to all those around me that made it easy to make the most of my four years at Holy Family.

Any other thoughts you’d like to share in regard to the medal or your years at Holy Family?
I don’t know who to thank for this award, but thank you to everyone who made high school four years to remember, and helped me become the individual I am proud to be today (with the understanding that I can always grow and improve)! The faculty and staff at Holy Family are unparalleled and will always hold a special place in my heart.

Guatemala Mission Trip Blog

Our Mission Trip Travel Blog

Holly writing in her journal during daily devotional time. A previous Holy Family group helped lay the foundation for the church.

Follow our journey as we spend time visiting this beautiful country and

providing service at NPH Guatemala.

Background: Since 2010 Holy Family educators Melissa and Nick Livermore have led 5 trips to NPH Guatemala. Our students and chaperones provide service as well as experience the Guatemalan culture first hand—a great opportunity for students to practice their Spanish. 

In April 2019, The Livermores received the “Leaving a Legacy Award” from NPH USA, the organization Holy Family service trips volunteer with in Guatemala. Click on this link to read Chanhassen Villager writer Unsie Zuege’s article highlighting their leadership and Holy Family’s service trips.

Our students and adult chaperones will write regular posts on this blog for their parents, friends, and neighbors. (Newest post are on top, so scroll the bottom to see the start of their trip.) May God bless them and those they serve during their mission trip.

Guatemala Mission Trip 2019

Monday, July 29

Historical Tours

What is going on everybody? It is Will and Brendan back at it again with the blog. Today we woke up at 7:15am and went next door to have breakfast. All of the boys had the chocolate crepe except for Bishop, because it had nuts. Then we proceeded to go back to the room and get ready for our last full day. After getting ready, we left and went out into the beautiful city of Antigua.

Our first stop was the Iglesia La Merced. Here we met up with our tour guides from DIGNA. This organization gives people with special needs the opportunity to be tour guides. The tour took us through the city to see some of the historic sights. After we finished the tour, we went a couple of blocks to the local McDonalds. Will destroyed ten chicken nuggets while the rest of the lads took down double-cheeseburgers. After eating, we got the chance to take a picture with THE Ronald McDonald. Then we went shopping in the markets for about 3 hours. There was a lot of bargaining going on and also lots of horrible deals and good ones too.

After shopping, we came back to the hotel and all of us played a card game. While we were playing, David (NPH staff) surprised us and came to dinner with us. For dinner, the boys and David absolutely feasted on 3 pounds of meat, two baskets of fries, potato salad, green beans, and corn. Also, during the meal, our boy Alexis (NPH) showed up as well to eat with us. However, sadly we learned that Moy (NPH) couldn’t make it.

After feasting, the group returned to the hotel and we did our nightly devotions. However, this time was especially special because we had a birthday in the house. One of our incoming college freshmen, Brielle, celebrated her 18th birthday in Guatemala. We had chocolate cake and just had a blast all around. This week was one of the best weeks of our lives and we definitely want to come back.

Shoutout to my family, Mom, Dad, Sophia, and Jaycub. I’m sad to leave Guatemala but I’m very excited to see you guys and the mango. I would like to shout out to my family as well. Mom, Dad, Jamo, Hank and Marc. I miss you all and can’t wait to see you all.

Alright smash that like button.

Peace out guys,
Will and Brendan

Sunday, July 28

Waiting for the coffee tour to begin.

Hey all, it’s Gavin and Bishop again today with another blog post. Today was, unfortunately, our very last day at the NPH Orphanage. We began our goodbye with the classic bean “soup” and a fried egg for breakfast. Some of us were totally sick of the beans at this point but not us. We just decided to plug the noses and get to it. After the difficult breakfast, we joined the pequenos for a morning mass in the amazing chapel. The priest was actually there this time instead of the deacon that stepped in on Friday. It was really cool to sit around the rest of the pequenos and enjoy a quality homily.

After Mass, we ended up saying some pretty early goodbyes. The Italians were also leaving at the same time so a lot of the pequenos were already giving their farewells. By far the most difficult part of the trip was to watch some of the best kids we had ever met leave. Sure, saying goodbyes in another language are pretty difficult but it was much harder processing the idea that we could never see them again. None of us really ever expected this day to come so fast. We thought we had so much more time to spend with the pequenos.

After the goodbyes, we all went through our casas and checked to make sure we had everything and made the house look better than it was in the first place. It was even hard to say goodbye to the house that we had been playing late night games of Pounce and King in the Corner. After we finally gathered the courage to leave the houses, we both sat in the park and hoped for a couple more goodbyes from the pequenos. To our surprise, we found three girls that we had bonded with and we got one last goodbye with them.

When the bus arrived and Moy had received his suitcase of goods, we finally left one of the best places. It was hard but having a group this strong and bonded, we all were there for each other. Once in Antigua we stopped at the hotel. It has got to be one of the coolest hotels any of us have ever stayed in. There is a garden/patio inside the lobby, and above the third floor, there is a terrace/roof that gives an outstanding view of Antigua and the surrounding mountains.

Once we settled into our tiny but cozy rooms we were on the move again to the Finca Filadelfia coffee plantation. We learned tons about how coffee is made here in Guatemala. The overall process was super informational, and we enjoyed a delicious cup of coffee at the end of the tour. After that we got back on the bus and headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

We had a couple of hours to relax, but we ended up leaving for dinner early because we were so hungry from going without lunch. We walked a couple of blocks through the open market and got to the restaurant. It was kind of like the hotel, with lots of inside plants and open windows. The dinner started with drinks, bean soup, and tortillas. Then we had the main course of steak, fried plantains, rice, refried beans, and guacamole. The food was fantastic, and we were treated to a traditional Guatemalan dance by some masked performers and a band. They even let us dance with them, even though we all had no idea what we were doing.

After dancing we were served coffee, and then we walked back to the hotel. We had devos on the second floor as we listened to the Guatemalan nightlife. Finally, after another long but fun-filled day, we hit the hay. Peace out for now: Bishop and Gavin

Hi Mom, Dad, Gracie, and Jack. It’s your crippled son (classic). Mom, the ankle is a real bummer, but I’ve really tried to make the best of it and haven’t given up on the rest of the trip. I traveled with the group everywhere whether it was on my crutches or me finally feeling comfortable enough to walk with only the brace on. I’ll be back to normal soon. Gracie, no offense, but the way you described the Guatemalan experience was nowhere close to what it is. It was so much better. Jack, I really hope you’re staying away from trouble while I’m gone. Dad, you’d love this place. It’s not a super busy country but still something that would constantly keep you busy. I can’t wait to see you all again and see Maisy!

Yo, what it do fam, it’s Bishop. As much as I love it here, I can’t wait to come home and see all of you guys! I have many stories to tell you, and I’m eager to hear what has been happening at home while I was gone. Gav is telling me wrap it up cuz he wants to go to bed, so I’ll sign off for now. See you in a couple of days! Love Bish (also shoutout miko cuz I miss him).

Saturday, July 27

At the mini carnival

What it do familias? It’s your favs, Lauren and Chelsea, back at it again. We started the morning off with breakfast which was beans and a homemade bread roll (we were a little “beaned” out so most of us just got bread). After breakfast, we hopped on the bus with some of the kids to go across town to the high school girls house.  We had a mini carnival and split up into groups and went to different stations. One of the stations had water balloons. We played a number game and also had to tie a string to our foot and try and eat a donut that was dangling from a line with one foot of ours in the air. Gavin sprained his ankle because he fell into a hole when we played four square ☹.  Lunch was hotdogs, chips, cake, and pop. It was fun.

At about 1pm,  we loaded back up and went back to our casa at NPH. We had a lot of free time when we got back so we cleaned up and packed some of our stuff to get ready to leave tomorrow (we are all very sad to leave).

For dinner the Italians made pizza and we brought ice cream and pop to share with everyone. The pizza was AMAZING (Lauren ate 6 pieces) and we all sat together outside in the park with a bonfire until dark. We finished up the day with our devotions on the basketball court and looked at the stars and listened to music. All in all it was a great way to wrap up our last day. Saying our goodbyes tomorrow will be very hard but we hope to come back and visit again one day. We are excited for Antigua tomorrow and our last few days in Guat so adios we will see you soon!!

NOTES TO HOME:I miss you very much mom, dad, aaaaaaaand of course syd. MOM I woke up from my nap having a panic attack and remembered that I forgot to remind you to feed my fish. It might be too late, and Fill might be dead but if he is somehow still alive give him a lot of food as an apology. I forgot to put sunscreen on today and am very burnt. Mom you would love it here, the mountains are like when we are in Arizona but 10 times prettier. It’s such a beautiful country and I also understand why auntie Kellie almost brought a kid home every time she came here. I love and miss you all very much and can’t wait to see you soon! – Lauren

Friday, July 26

Zach watches on as Holly jumps in with David and Caitlin.

WhAt iS uP EvErYbOdY! It’s your two favorite bloggers here tonight, Holly and Caitlin. We started the morning off with some amazing rock n’ roll music courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Livermore (several loud knocks on the door also followed). We slowly made our way to mass, which was held at the church in the orphanage. This was a really cool experience for us because the mass was entirely in Spanish.

After Mass, we made our way to our work project for the day. The workers actually gave Holly a machete (Holly did not fall with it; everyone was warned to keep a close eye on her). We started to machete, and shortly after this Zach and Will somehow managed to find a snake. Of course, every boy on the property ran to attempt to kill the snake (they literally came from everywhere in a matter of 5 seconds). The snake was never located, therefore we were done macheting for the day!

After this, we had lunch and prepared our skit for the afternoon. Our skit was Jesus Loves the Little Children, and we performed it for the girls at the orphanage (Holly needs to work on her Spanish and Caitlin needs to improve her acting skills). We spent about two hours with the girls coloring, playing games, and jump roping. Holly got seriously involved in a jump rope competition (and once again didn’t hurt herself, Caitlin was watching close).

For dinner, we had potatoes, carrots, and tortillas (a rare treat for Guatemala, and no rice and beans!!). We ate with the kids outside, and Holly got attacked by fire ants (no surprise there, Caitlin did not come to the rescue). We then played an intense game of volleyball, accompanied by Holly messing up the game point.

The rest of our night was spent playing games with the pequenos and the Italians who are also staying at NPH (Europe has some cool games). Caitlin was pelted with a ball by a little boy, and shortly before that she was bit by another. She is still alive, updates to come. We ended the night in the chapel. Things got a little teary, but that’s how we do it in Guatemala. All jokes aside, this trip has been one of the best experiences either of us could’ve had. We can’t wait for our last day at NPH tomorrow and our two nights in Antigua! Adios!

Mom, I really miss you a lot, you would love it here (sutupahutsu Quan) (make sure my mom reads this Michele, I’m counting on you). Dad and JoJo, I miss you and I can’t wait to see you when I get back. Noelle and Charlie, miss you more than anything, I’ll see you guys soon!! Also shoutout to E and B, I miss my puppies the most (and I guess shoutout to Luke). Love you all! -Holly

What is up mom, I miss you so much and Holly and I are banking on you to be at that gate with cokes and our phones in hand, you would love it here so much I can not even describe it. I can’t wait to eat some sour cream noodle bake when I get home.

Dad, what is up pops I miss you a lot even though I am in my room a lot, I can’t wait to go get some crunch cones when I get home ily.

Tyler, what is up homie I hope you have enjoyed your time as an only child because trust me I know it’s not fun, I hope you haven’t had too much dq without me.

Casey sup loser, I hope you’re having so much fun working, can’t wait to see you whenever you come home from Colorado ily.

You guys are pretty cool- sissy

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The group at Lake Atitlan.

Hey guys what is going on? It’s Celia and Ashley. Today started bright and early (at least for the girls). We woke up around 6 am, ate breakfast and headed to the bus to start our journey to Lake Atitlan. It was around a 2-hour bus ride. Some slept, some played games, some sang, and some stared out the window.

When we arrived, we saw a beautiful view of the lake and the city then took a boat to our first spot, San Juan. We started by watching the women of the city show us the weaving process. We got to feel the different materials and watch one dye the string. It takes around 3 months for them just to make one blanket. Next, we heard from a native painter about his bird and ant eye view paintings. Then we went to the plant place. We felt and smelt rosemary, basil, sage, and others. We learned about their healing powers as well. Here we also met our new dog friend whom Chelsea named, Skaberchlynn. (Berchy). From here on out he followed us everywhere and was like our tour guide.

Church in San Juan.

We walked up to the top of a hill (it was quite the hike) to visit a church next to a Lasallian school. Next, we stopped at a coffee shop for lunch and a drink. Our final stop in this town was the chocolate shop. We got to taste the chocolate-making process starting from the most bitter and ending in the sweetest.

Then we hopped on another boat and went to the next town, Santiago. It was the feast day of their patron saint so there were big crowds and a fiesta. We walked stressfully through the very crowed and cramped marketplace. Then we made it to the church where we learned more about Saint James. We also learned about a priest that was killed there and recently became a saint.

Next, we took a little time to shop in the marketplace. We bargained with the salespeople and got Guatemalan goods for cheap prices. Staying hydrated was important, so we stopped again for a drink before getting back on the boat that would take us to our bus.

We got on the bus and headed back to NPH. We made a pitstop for the bathroom and some skittles (which really hit the spot). The place also had a playground with trampolines so that was a very fun time. We made it back to NPH and had a gourmet dinner of Instant Ramen. It was an adventure-filled day and we are excited to spend tomorrow with the kids.


Celia and Ashley

Shoutout Mom, Dad (sorry I’m not as good of a blogger as you), Riney and Gracie. Also please tell Molly I miss her.


¡¡Hola mi familia y mis amigos!! This week has been a great experience and so much fun! I miss you all and hanging out with our new dog friend made me miss Nali the most😊 Love you lots


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Chelsea, Brielle, Celia, Anna, Brendan, Bishop, and Gavin clearing the field.

Hola amigos y familias,

Brielle and Anna here to update you on our Guatemalan adventures. Today started off with Mr. Livermore’s wake up songs (Elmo, Barney, etc.) and our first breakfast of beans which took many of us by surprise compared to the pancakes we have been eating. After breakfast, we went to our work projects and split up into three groups. Some of us raked in the greenhouse, some worked in the kitchen, and others macheted for the third day in a row. Overall everything went smoothly, except for a brief moment of TERROR due to the fact that Gavin lost his grip on the machete (everyone is ok😊) (seriously the Livermores want us to clarify that it was not a big deal…don’t worry moms).

After our work projects, we all had a much-needed shower and headed to the café to get some frappes and smoothies. We then ate beats and rice with the pequenos. During our second short break, we started a very intense game of four square. After four square, we had a panel with some of the NPH volunteers and some former pequenos currently working at the home.

It was very interesting to hear their stories and experiences (two of them were from Minnesota!). After that, the boys got crushed in a game of basketball while the girls blew bubbles with the kids and started a large volleyball game. Brielle and Anna’s team won…but you already knew that. After volleyball, we got our plates, went to dinner, went back to get Brielle’s plates (ugh), and ate dinner in the girl’s dorm with the pequenos. Next, we performed the fourth skit of the week for the children and decorated animal masks with the girls. We ended up staying for a few hours and having a giant dance party, which was almost everyone’s favorite part of the day. Overall, today was a very good day at NPH, and we can’t wait to wake up at 5:30 am☹ tomorrow for a jam-packed day at Lake Atitlan (no machete manana:)!


Your favorite Holy Family Alumni Brielle Bornhorst and Anna Galioto

Shoutout to mi famiglia Mom, Dad, Katie, John, and Tuck (who is now ten years old…happy late birthday puperino!!) Hope you aren’t having to much fun without me;)

Also, shoutout to the Killer B’s. Love you guys and I hope you guys don’t miss me too much. Tell Bobo I say that he is a good boy. I am having a great time and I haven’t gotten too burnt yet (fingers crossed). Love, Brielle (your soon to be eighteen-year-old daughter 😉)

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Brendan, Bishop, Zach, Gavin, and Will perform the Prodigal Son.

It’s Chelsea, Lauren, and Zach. Today we woke up mad early and ate pancakes. It was really good, sugary and cold. It came with strawberry milk that tasted very good. The water was out this morning so we had to wait to wash our dishes. Later on, the girls helped clean out the shed. There were A BUNCH of spiders and the workers kept trying to scare us (jokingly though). The boys helped moved rock in a wheel barrel for a new sidewalk and others helped picked weeds. We also found some avocados and Zach chopped it open with a machete and ate it like a champ (it wasn’t ripe). Lauren found a DEAD rat, named it Miguel and took pictures with it (she had gloves on though).

After a quick rest and washing off, we headed to lunch with the pequenos. Today’s VBS was about the Prodigal Son and the boys knocked it out of the park.  Afterward, we played soccer with the section. We played A LOT of soccer (lost every time) and learned a bunch of games from the pequenos. They taught us a hand game called “chocolate” and took pictures of us. Earlier in the day we went to the café and tried their smoothies and Frappuccinos. We’re going to have to end this now because the three of us are running on one brain cell and we need to shower after our long day so next time we will give you a longer blog.

Monday, July 22, 2019 

It’s the lads Bishop, Brendan, and Will. Today was our first full day in NPH Parramos, and Will had the impossible task of waking us all up. When he finally got us all out of bed, we went to the main casa to do devotions. We all spread out amongst the casas and had some private journaling time.

Anna, Brielle, Celia, and Chelsea at the welcome breakfast of pancakes in the Cafe.

Then we went to the bakery at NPH and they made us breakfast. It was pancakes and they were the most fire ‘cakes (AKA best pancakes) we’ve had in quite some time. After eating our delicious breakfast, the directors from NPH presented some information about the home to us. They showed us a video about the history and mission of the program. It was very interesting to learn about the history and why the tios and tias (house parents) do what they do.

After gaining basic knowledge of the home, Alexis gave us a tour of the whole campus. He showed us the main buildings, houses, clinics, and classrooms that the kids use daily. After that we grabbed our work gloves and headed over to the worksite. As soon as we got there, we knew it was going to be a grind (AKA difficult). Our job was to pull weeds in one of the greenhouses, as well as use machetes (Zach loved it) to chop the taller weeds outside. We worked for about 2 hours and surprisingly avoided getting bitten by the hundreds of spiders that were crawling around.

Once we had finished working, we headed back to our casa to play some President. Will choked super hard in last round and finished at the bottom, despite having an insane hand. Then we trekked our way to the lunchroom. They were serving spaghetti with red sauce, an unknown protein, and tortillas. Bishop and Brendan had a solid conversation with a man named Antonio who turned out to be a former pequeno at NPH and was there to practice marimba with the NPH band. He informed us that some members in the band would be traveling to Holy Family in October to perform for the school (Ms. Boillat’s love it), as well as observe the Minnesota way of life. After lunch, we played soccer and frisbee with the kids and we met a baller named Errison. The kids really enjoy it when we interact with them.

Then, we went over to one of the classrooms and listened to a marimba band play some of their excellent music. After that, we ventured over to the special needs house and performed a skit. We also colored with them and danced, and one of the special needs girls really loved dancing with Bishop.

After, we went to the main park area and played some four-square with David and Moses (they are the staff). Four-square was the most intense competition of our day. Master Livermore and King David controlled the king spot for most of the game. However, little did they know that Bishop and Gavin were four-square pros. Immediately after, we went to dinner and had rice, tortillas, liquified beans, and horchata to drink. During this meal, the lads had a solid conversation with some of the teens with about soccer and life in general. Following dinner, we went to casa 1 and created costumes and rehearsed for another skit.

Noah’s Ark performance

We then performed it in front of some of the pequenos as well as the Italian volunteers that are here. Then we played a competitive game of kickball under the lights on the soccer field. And then we came back to the main casa and did nightly prayer and devotions. Shoutout to Mom (Angela), Dad, (Rusty/Richard) Sophie, and Jacob. I miss you guys already and I can’t wait to see you and our little boy. Also, shoutout to my mom (Angie), dad (Jeremy), Jamo, Marc, and Katrin. I miss you all so much and really wish I could be there with you guys. Shoutout Mom, Dad, Sawyer (Insert dap and chest bump), Keyan (insert dance), Maielle (insert dope handshake and candy-on-a-stick), and last but not least Miko! (roof roof). Also, because Anna G told us to, we wish a happy birthday to the legend, Tucker the dog.

Adios y’all the lads are signing off,

Bishop, Will, Brendan

Sunday, July 21, 2019 – We’re leaving on a jet plane

After months of preparation, the day has finally arrived! It was an early start (3 a.m.), but everyone made it on time. As always, Delta made our group check-in quick and smooth. The security checkpoint opened up just as we were finishing up and we were one of the first in line. Minneapolis to Atlanta to Guatemala City.

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2019 Participants at MSP Airport

Hey all, it’s Zach B and Gavin L with the first blog coming from Guatemala.

Today was a very early morning for us all.  Waking up at the crack of dawn was a rude awakening for everyone. Fortunately, we had a two-hour plane ride to Atlanta and a three-hour flight to Guatemala to sleep and catch up. When we finally arrived in Guatemala City, we were all amazed by how cool the landscape and city we drove through were. We passed by multiple fried chicken places along the way including KFC and a Burger King. We also witnessed multiple corn fields and other farms. After the hour bus ride to the NPH orphanage, we unpacked all of our belongings and settled down in our casas. The boys made sure to unpack our snacks which ultimately created an abundant cupboard.

After we settled in, Mr. and Mrs. Livermore took us on a short tour of the orphanage. Meeting interesting characters like Jose was a pleasant surprise. We played frisbee with many of the children up until dinner time. The children loved the frisbee and begged us to stay and play with them. Then we headed to dinner and experienced our first Guatemalan meal. We had black beans, tortillas, plantains, a special sour cream, and hot cup of flavored tea. We all sat down with the children and began to socialize. It was really fun to put our Spanish skills to the test (thanks Hache and Mr. O). We talked about a variety of things from soccer teams and players to movies.

After we finished dinner, some of the other volunteers from Italy asked if we wanted to join them in a pickup game of soccer. This was very fun because there were so many skilled players on the field and it was very hard to keep up with them all. We made many companionships through the game but also may have caused a little rivalry between us and the Guatemalans. After the Guatemalans left to go to sleep, we joined the Italians under the lights to play some basketball and more soccer. Finally, when it got too dark out to see the ball, we all headed back to the girl’s casa and did our ups and downs for the day. Our gathering ended with a group prayer and a layout of what tomorrow would look like. Then everyone finally got to what they wanted all day long: a good night’s sleep.

 Signing off,
Gavin and Zach

Thursday, July 18, 2019 – Packing and Praying Together

Sanding boat kits for VBS.

Parents and students came together to prepare for the trip. After enjoying a delicious potluck dinner and prayer, the group divided up. Mr. Livermore gave last-minute information and pointers to parents. Mrs. Livermore and the students prepped for Vacation Bible School. They made sure their skits were ready, all supplies were purchased, and sanded boat kits made by Mr. Livermore. Donations, including many t-shirts from Holy Family’s football program, were distributed for packing. We are ready to go!

Sankovitz Hired as Fire Girls Golf Head Coach

Holy Family hires Kristin Sankovitz to lead the Fire Girls Golf Program

We are pleased to announce the hiring of Kristin Sankovitz as the school’s new head girls golf coach.

Photo of Kristin Sankovitz
Holy Family Catholic High School is pleased to announce the hiring of Kristin Sankovitz as the school’s new head girls golf coach.

Kristin Sankovitz grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the daughter of a PGA golf professional. She played high school varsity golf and participated in local, state and national tournaments before attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois on a golf scholarship.

Coach Sankovitz graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School and practiced law for eight years before starting a family with her husband, James. They have two sons and live in Chaska, Minnesota. She was an active member of Pax Christi Catholic Community, St. Hubert  Catholic Community, and currently serves as a greeter and catechist at St. Victoria Parish Family. Kristin enjoys playing and teaching golf and is a four-time Bearpath women’s club champion.

For the past two seasons, she assisted in coaching the back to back State Champion Holy Family Boys Golf team and also teaches junior golf at the Hanneman Golf Academy during the summer.

Holy Family Activities Director Nick Tibesar thrilled to welcome Sankovitz as the new head coach of Holy Family’s Girls Golf program. “Coach Sankovitz brings our program a lifetime of experience playing and teaching golf at a high-level, and more importantly, a commitment to supporting and developing the young women in our program.  Her proven success as a Big Ten athlete, a practicing attorney, and an assistant coach for our two boys state champion teams is impressive, and her record of service and connections in the community are invaluable assets as she begins her tenure as our new head girls golf coach!”

Contact Information:
Nick Tibesar, HFCHS Activities Director –
Kristin Sankovitz, HFCHS Head Girls Golf Coach –

Crocker Hired as Holy Family Girls Soccer Coach

Holy Family hires Sammi Crocker to lead the Fire Girls Soccer Program

Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria, MN, is pleased to announce the hiring of Sammi Crocker as the school’s new head girls soccer coach.

Coach Crocker arrives at Holy Family with a wealth of soccer experience both as a player and a coach.  Crocker grew up in Eden Prairie, playing high school soccer at Eden Prairie High School before continuing her career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She has been coaching in the Tonka United Soccer Club since 2013, and also brings Lake Conference high school coaching experience to Holy Family through her time on the girls soccer staff at Hopkins High School.

She majored in psychology and communications in college and currently works for General Mills as a product manager for the digital analytics team and volunteers for Family Fest Ministries as the counseling director.

Coach Crocker met with her team for the first time on Friday, May 30, and began official practices on Monday, August 12, 2019. Follow Holy Family Girls Soccer program on social media: Instagram @holyfamilygirlsoccer Twitter: @hfgirls_soccer  Crocker is excited to be leading a high school soccer program and to help develop soccer and leadership skills in the young women who play soccer for the Fire! Go Fire!

Visit the team website

Contact Information:
Nick Tibesar, HFCHS Activities Director –
Sammi Crocker, HFCHS Head Girls Soccer Coach –

Scott Breimhorst Assumes New Role

Holy Family Catholic High School is excited to announce that Scott Breimhorst, current Executive Director for Admissions, will be assuming the role of Vice President for Enrollment and School Partnerships, effective immediately. Enrollment is a critical foundational piece of school viability and under Scott’s leadership, Holy Family is on track to continue a growth trend.

Our mission is to serve the educational and spiritual needs of as many young men and women as possible. This position will leverage Scott’s 25 years of experience in Catholic Education, as principal, foundation Executive Director, and most recently leading the admissions effort at Holy Family Catholic High School. He will have an impact on enrollment models, scholarship and accessibility programs, resource sharing, and the building of bridges in our community and beyond. We are stronger together, and this outward-facing approach will give help us ensure the viability of our region in our shared mission in Catholic education.

Geurs receives Schulz Family Scholarship

Commencement ceremonies are wonderful opportunities to share good news with our community. Each year as Holy Family Catholic High School acknowledges individuals for academic success and senior awards, we also celebrate our families’ returns on their investments as we announce the college scholarships dollars offered and accepted. Principal Kathie Brown used these words to announce this year’s totals:

All of our students have great plans for their lives. It is wonderful when colleges and universities acknowledge potential and are able to offer scholarships to help young people meet their goals. I am going to give you two numbers: one is the amount of scholarship money this class of 110 has been offered; the second is the amount these students have chosen to accept. Both numbers are important as they signify confidence in the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of our students and reflect the value of your investment in a Holy Family education.The HFCHS Class of 2019 earned $14,243,184 in college scholarships and accepted approximately $3,824,350.

This year Holy Family is proud to have its first recipient of the $20,000 Richard M. Schulz Family Foundation College Scholarship, Julia Geurs. Julia is an honor student, multi-sport athlete, captain of the state consolation champions HF Girls Basketball, a campus minister, and well-known for her kindness to others, especially the underclassmen who were part of her sports programs. We caught up with Julie to learn more about the scholarship and her high school experience.

HF: How did you hear about the scholarship?
I heard about the scholarship through an announcement that Mr. Rutz made during an Leadership Institute meeting.

HF: Was it a difficult process?
The process was super easy and went smoothly. The application was very straightforward and well explained. Mr. Rutz really helped me along the process by helping me with downloading transcripts, reading my short answer in the application, etc.

HF: What activities were you involved in during high school?

Julia: During high school I was involved in tennis and basketball for all four years. I also was a part of Honors Society. I played softball for one year, and I was apart of equality club senior year.

HF: What classes did you particularly enjoy?
I had a great experience with all of my classes at HF, and they were more enjoyable because of all the understanding teachers. Specifically, I really enjoyed Chemistry, Catholic Social Teaching, Morality, and Clay.

HF: Do you have a major in mind for college? If so, why did you choose it?
Julia: In college, I plan on studying something in the medical field. Right now I am thinking either becoming a nurse or a physicians assistant! I’ve chosen this path because I really want to help others and impact their lives for the better.

HF: Where are you attending college and why did you choose that college?
Julia:  I’m very excited to be attending University of St. Thomas. I chose St. Thomas because it is an excellent school, and I know it will be a great fit for me.

HF: What factors contributed to your academic success?
I was academically successful because of all the support and help I had from different teachers throughout the years at HF. I also attribute it to being organized and determined to do well. I put a lot of work into my school work and studied hard.

HF: Anything else you’d like to share as it pertains to your four years at Holy Family?
Julia: I am so incredibly grateful for my four years at HF because I grew to become a better person through the people I met and the experience I had. I also always felt very welcomed and supported by the staff. It is a great community, and I am extremely happy I made the choice to attend Holy Family.

Holy Family’s summer enrollment season is underway. Parents are discovering what Holy Family has to offer their children. Visit our website or give our admissions team a call at 952-443-1955 to learn more about our school and our Family.

Kathie Brown Announces Retirement at End of 2019-20

In the Spring 2019, Principal Kathleen Brown announced her retirement as the principal of Holy Family Catholic High School at the completion of the 2019-2020 school year.  Upon her retirement, Mrs. Brown will have served our school for since its inception through the 20th anniversary year.

Dear Holy Family Families and Friends,

The 2019-2020 school year will be infused with both subtle and enthusiastic celebrations of Holy Family Catholic High School’s 20th anniversary. The years have flowed quickly and confidently one into another, filled with stories of growth and accomplishment.

It is with joy that I announce my retirement at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Because we remind ourselves several times a day we are all in the holy presence of God, every one of us is developing the understanding there is more to our individual callings than we are presently living. Consequently, I am looking forward to another year of Holy Family experiences, replete with initiatives to accomplish, teachers to encourage, families to serve, and the gift of daily gratitude for the lives that have touched mine.

I remember moving from Wisconsin to Minnesota in July 1999. I was a city person; my introduction to the school was walking the farmland on which this beautiful building was to be erected. Immediately, I knew starting a Catholic high school wasn’t just a rare opportunity. It was a pristine sketchbook available to many creative and loving minds, hearts, and hands who were excited about transforming lives!

The sketchbook is pretty full now but there are plenty of pages for future artists. Holy Family has developed in many ways in these first nineteen years and it is easy to take for granted how our faculty, coaches, and staff have gone above and beyond to create an environment that is safe, relational, and grounded in Gospel values. I cherish the many traditions that are firmly entrenched in our culture:  Thanksgiving dinner served by teachers and staff, visits from St. Nicholas, Coffee House, and Convocation. These and other special aspects of this sacred space have come from people who realize trusting and caring relationships build strong communities. An effective school is, at its core, a community.

I have great confidence in the processes mentioned below by President Brennan and Board Chair Tom Furlong to seek the next principal of Holy Family Catholic High School. I know great care will be taken to fill this role. In the meantime, prepare to celebrate our 20th anniversary with me. If ever there is an occasion that calls for a party (or several!), this is it!


Living Jesus in our hearts,

Kathie Brown, Principal

A Message from the President and Board Chair

Dear Holy Family Families and Friends,

It is hard to imagine our high school with a different principal. Kathie Brown has been the one and only person to hold this office since Holy Family’s inception 20 years ago. We are indebted to Mrs. Brown for her pioneer spirit and the life of selfless service she has led in the name of Catholic education. In so many ways, we simply would not be here today if it were not for Kathie Brown and her relentless pursuit to see Holy Family succeed and thrive. Much like the way she has viewed every student who has walked through our front doors, Kathie Brown saw the limitless potential of 72 acres of Minnesota farmland and cultivated a once lofty dream into the beautiful reality that is Holy Family Catholic High School today – a place, a home, a family where both students and Savior are known, loved and served. Please join us in our gratitude for the legacy we are honored to inherit and the gift of one final year with someone so instrumental in our trajectory as a school and the beacon of hope we aspire to be. Thank you, Kathie Brown!

As you can imagine, the search for a new principal – one whose sense of vocation is both formed by the Catholic faith and inspired by an understanding of mission — is no small undertaking. Once more we are grateful for the timing of Mrs. Brown’s announcement and the year-long runway it provides to conduct a thorough search for the ideal candidate. It is a task that school leadership views as both a great responsibility and a tremendous privilege knowing full well the impact this position has on school culture, student learning outcomes and day-to-day operational effectiveness.

As such, the Office of School President and the Holy Family Board of Directors will collaboratively engage in a search process for this position with a goal of having new leadership in place for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. To ensure fidelity to our responsibility of providing the very best for Holy Family, a national search will be conducted aimed at sourcing high quality, effective and talented candidates from both near and far.

In the meantime, we again ask that you join us throughout the upcoming year in our gratitude for Mrs. Brown’s faithful service to Holy Family and humbly request the support of your prayers as we navigate the journey of transition that lies before us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever,

Michael Brennan, President                                       Tom Furlong, Board Chair

Carlton and Phillips named Ambassadors of Christ

Holy Family Catholic High School proudly announces Chris Carlton as a 2019 Ambassador of Christ Award co-recipient. Chris is the son of Mary and the late Roy Carlton of Chanhassen. He attended middle school at St. Hubert  Catholic School in Chanhassen. This award is chosen by votes from classmates, faculty, and staff and awarded to a senior who consistently act in a dignified manner, and, by doing so, influence others to strive for goodness and holiness. This year the voting was tied and Chris was the co-recipient with Allie Phillips.

Chris graduated Suma Cum Laude with honors from Holy Family Catholic High School on Wednesday, May 22. He leaves high school with a very full resume of involvement in school activities. He played tennis for four years and was a varsity captain his senior year. He served on the school’s student council for four years, finishing his term as an executive board member and the public relations external officer. He is a four year member of the Honor Society, Health Club, Eco-Freako Club, Lasallian Youth Club, the Knowledge Bowl Team, and Youth in Government, where he was invited to represent the State of Minnesota’s Delegation at the National Judicial Competition. As an underclassman, he also dipped his toes in football, lacrosse, and the Equality Club.  Outside of school he has volunteered with Feed My Starving Children, Furnishare at Love Inc., the American Red Cross, The Langdon, and Summerwood Senior Living Community.

Chris Carlton
Chris walks up to receive his award.

Next fall, Chris will attend the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities where he plans to major in finance and physics. We caught up to Chris after graduation to learn more about his faith journey.

What role does your faith play in your life?

My faith leads my action. I have been absorbing Catholic values my whole life, thanks to my wonderful mother, and I keep them close to my heart so I may affect others positively. Additionally, my faith serves as a valuable foundation to lean on when I struggle.

How has your faith developed/changed in your years at HFCHS?

My faith has blossomed during my high school years, in part, due to my excellent teachers at Holy Family. Theology, Social Studies, and English classes at Holy Family have proven invaluable due to the free exchange of ideas which have strengthened my faith.

Who has influenced you and your faith?  How?

My mother has been my primary faith teacher throughout my life, with great support from my uncle C.J. Schoenwetter and aunt Robin Schoenwetter. By taking me to mass, teaching wisdom from the Bible, and emailing me on contemporary Catholic issues, my family builds my faith life. I could not discuss my faith, however, without my theology teachers Mr. Bosch, Mrs. Bosch, and Mr. Schlepp, all of whom have been instrumental in my faith formation.

What do you find most rewarding about your faith?

The results of manifesting the Catholic faith in the world: mostly, smiles.

 What are your feelings about receiving the Ambassador of Christ Award?

I feel very blessed to have so many people in my life to model my actions after. Even though I have grown up without my father, I have found many role models in the St. Hubert and Holy Family community, many of whom are reading this right now. Parents, teachers, coaches, and friends: thank you!

 Favorite HFCHS memory:

There are too many to choose from, but I’ll try to narrow it down: Haiti, tennis, football, knowledge bowl, each and every learning moment with my teachers, lunch table discussions, convocation, and the time I have cherished with Holy Family’s Class of 2019.

 How did you make the most of your years at HFCHS?

As an underclassman, I did my best to give everything a shot. Then, I focused on what I was passionate about. Open-mindedness has gifted me new joys, new beliefs, and new experiences which I otherwise would not have had the pleasure of knowing.

 Other comments:

Best of luck to all of my friends graduating this year and thank you to the parents, teachers, faculty, and staff who have supported us along the way! Go Fire!

2019 Senior Athletes of the Year

Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria recognized its 2019 Senior Athletes of the Year, Leigh Steiner and Sawyer Schugel, at its annual Recognition Ceremony.  The Senior Athlete of the Year Award recognizes a senior male and female athlete who exemplify leadership, character, and excellence; on the field of play, in the classroom, and in their communities. Before presenting the award, activities director Nick Tibesar stated: “The Class of 2019 is a tremendously talented and highly impressive group of individuals. The selection of just two seniors for the Athlete of the Year is incredibly challenging, and a testament to the depth of talent at HF.” He continues, “This class leaves behind a huge legacy of leadership, and for that we are extremely grateful.”

Leigh Steiner holding her plaque
Leigh Steiner will play D1 lacrosse for Marquette University.

2019 Female Athlete of the Year

2019 HFCHS Senior Female Athlete of the Year Leigh Steiner (Eden Prairie resident) is three-year honor society member, academic cord recipient for seven semesters with a 3.5 GPA or higher, a member of the President’s Honor Roll, and an Academic All-State recipient.  She holds nine athletic letters for basketball and lacrosse and is a three-time MVP and two-time team captain.  Steiner contributed as a member of a conference championship basketball team, two section champions, and the 2019 MSHSL Class A Consolation Championship Team. She was a 2019 Ms. Basketball finalist and a member of the 2019 MSHSL All-Tournament team!  Steiner is also a highly decorated lacrosse player, with an athletic scholarship to play D1 Lacrosse at Marquette University next fall.

Sawyer Schugel
Sawyer is also the winner of the MSHSL Triple A Award for arts, academics, and athletics.

2019 Male Athlete of the Year

Holy Family’s 2019 Male Athlete of the Year is soccer and hockey player Sawyer Schugel. Schugel (Victoria resident) is a seven-time letter winner, two-sport captain, and two-time MVP winner.  He was a member of four conference championship teams and two section championship teams, serving as an integral leader on the Holy Family Boys Soccer team that made its first state appearance in school history this past fall!

As a junior, Schugel initiated the Holy Family Fishing Club, a competitive fishing club that competes in local competitions over the summer months, and qualified for the state tournament at Lake Pokegama in 2018. In addition to his athletic prowess, Schugel is also a talented musician and member of the percussion section of the school band. In recognition of his wide-ranging talents, Sawyer was awarded the MSHSL Triple A Award for Excellence in Arts, Academics, and Athletics. Schugel is also a recipient of a music scholarship to St. John’s University, where he will continue his music and soccer careers next fall.

To see additional recipients of academic awards, click on the link to our Recognition Day story: 2019 Recognition Day

Holy Family Students Love the Great Outdoors

Behind the Scenes: Holy Family Students Love the Great Outdoors

If you think the closest today’s kids get to the great outdoors is through Fortnite, Apex Legends, or other games exploring a virtual world, think again. Students at Holy Family Catholic High School, as well as schools across the state and nation, are itching to participate in the two fastest-growing, real-world outdoor sports—clay target and fishing.

In just 10 years, nearly 12,000 high school students across Minnesota, both boys and girls, have participated in clay target, otherwise known as trap. And fishing? One of the newest high school club sports seems to be following a similar trajectory. Only 56 kids participated on organized high school fishing teams in 2015. That number grew to 600 in 2017, giving you an idea of its skyrocketing growth.

Both outdoor sports were added to the Holy Family extracurricular list because individual students saw an opportunity to do something they love, while encouraging other students to give it a try.

Coach Maus with clay team members in the background
Coach Patrick Maus has been with the team since it started.

In 2012, Holy Family graduate Joe Yetzer, then in 11th grade, approached social studies teacher Patrick Maus in the hallway with the idea of starting a trap team. Four years later, Sawyer Schugel took the lead in getting students, teachers, and parents on board to launch the fishing team.

“These activities seem like a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively,” says Holy Family Activities Director Nick Tibesar. “There are plenty of other sports and pressure year-round. These outdoor sports open students up to competing in something they’ve done for a long time or just want to try in a non-intimidating way.”

So far, Holy Family students have given the outdoor activities a huge thumbs-up. This spring trap team will field its largest team with 37 athletes, and 10 are girls, the fastest-growing segment in the sport. Fishing started with a group of 10 anglers last summer and is anticipating more students joining this summer.

“There are a few activities that are co-educational, like cross-country, track and field and fencing,” Tibesar says. “These outdoor sports are the same. Whether it is sighting in on clay targets or pulling a bass from the water, both are activities where girls and boys compete together.”

A Community Effort

The reality is it took the efforts of many to get both fishing and clay target off the ground. While Schugel led with passion, organizing from a student-participation standpoint, it was the help of many parents that got the fishing team in the water.

Picture of HF's first fishing team
Holy Family’s Fishing Team competed in its first season in the summer of 2018.

“So many people helped to get it going” credits team coach Jim O’Donnell, parent of sophomore angler Aidan. “There was good cross-class interaction, from seniors to incoming students still in seventh and eighth grades. And the parents divided and conquered to help out.”

Jon Blood, parent of 9th grade angler Nick, helped get the team going in year one by taking care of the administrative details, navigating registration and outfitting the team with jerseys and sponsors. Becky Lund, parent of 10th grade angler Owen, helped in coordinating team communication and O’Donnell volunteered to fill the coach role.

The biggest obstacle, however, is finding volunteers willing to captain and provide a boat for the fishing teams. Some two-person teams have access to boats and someone over 18 to shuttle the anglers to fishing hot spots. Others, like Schugel, have been resourceful.

“I have a neighbor with a really nice boat,” he says. “You sometimes just have to find people willing to volunteer their time, and even a boat if you need it.”

Likewise, the clay target team wouldn’t exist today without parents, teachers and volunteers. Coach Maus, who remembers shooting trap recreationally as a kid, has led the team since 2012. Yetzer’s dad, Steve, helped form the team and has volunteered as an assistant coach from day one. With the need for one coach for every 10 shooters, Holy Family counselor Josh Rutz joined in 2014. Assistant coach John Kunze oversees range safety and more parents take on volunteer roles, including scoring at the shooting stations.

Watertown Gun Club Manager Gary Kubasch and Assistant Manager Gene Lack also deserve a bit of credit. They opened their range to Holy Family and other metro high schools, including Chaska/Chanhassen, Watertown, Waconia and Mayer Lutheran, providing a place for students to compete.

“One of the biggest draws to the sport is that you don’t have to be the big, tall guy or the strongest person to make the team,” Kubasch says.

That resonates with team members like senior Ava Kunze, who joined the Holy Family clay target team when she was in eighth grade.

“It’s nice that anyone can do this,” she says. “It’s more of a mind game than a physical type of sport. It attracts more diversity than you get in typical high school sports, and we have a number of girls that have joined since I started.”

Taking Your Best Shot

The first spring season, Maus coached 10 students. Some were introduced to the sport through hunting or shooting with family. For others, it was their first time shooting a shotgun.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids who are interested but haven’t had a chance to shoot,” Maus says. “There’s only one thing kids need to compete—they must complete Minnesota’s Firearms Safety Certification.”

“Probably 50 percent of the kids have never done it before, but if they express interest and if they have their Minnesota Firearms Safety Certificate, they can come give it a try,” Rutz adds. “Some have to wait until they complete the safety class, but they can get in the following season (spring or fall).”

Safety is the number-one priority for the clay target team. There is a huge amount of pride across the state that it is the only sport that has never had an injury. To keep it that way, here is a sample of the rules all high school clay target athletes must follow:

  • Shotguns are never allowed at school. Students go home to get their equipment before heading to the gun club.
  • Team members are only allowed to handle their own shotgun.
  • All shotguns must be made safe during travel and when being handled. That means actions are open and visible to the safety ranger.
  • All guns stay in cars, safely stored and secure until all team members arrive, including those coming from middle schools.
  • When handling shotguns, team members must have two hands on the gun at all times and muzzles must be pointed in a safe direction.
  • No one is allowed on the range without eye or ear protection.

“Our fourth coach is the range safety officer to make sure everything is safe,” Maus says, standing behind the shooters, who line up in groups on five, equally spaced behind each “trap.”

The trap is where the action is. A single clay target is launched into the air when the shooter commands, “Pull.” Seconds later, “POP!” If the target breaks, it’s recorded as a hit. If the target flies straight and is unscathed, it’s a miss. The next shooter steadies, “Pull!” Again, followed by “POP!” The rhythm goes on and on until all shooters have completed their rounds.

Ava Kunze shooting with Will Swanson watching.
Seniors Will Swanson and Ava Kunze have been with the team since middle school.

Team members must provide their own shotgun. It could be theirs, or one borrowed from a family or friend. A one-time, $200 fee paid by each team member covers all shotgun shells and clay targets.

The team meets five consecutive Tuesdays in spring after school. It’s a virtual competition. Each shooter gets 50 clay targets, 25 in each round. Hits and misses are recorded by a scorekeeper and entered into the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League database the next morning.

“We meet only one day a week, so many of our shooters can do another sport while also competing in trap,” Maus says. The team also competes in a fall league.

Will Swanson, a senior, has been competing for Holy Family since seventh grade and has qualified for the state tournament each year since 2014.

“It just keeps getting tougher and tougher,” Swanson says. “Throughout the league, only 100 kids qualify for the state tournament based on the spring season. With more than 11,000 kids competing, it gets more difficult and they all keep getting better and better.”

Maus says there is a special satisfaction in watching kids grow with the sport, and seeing many Holy Family shooters go from beginner to state qualifier.

“They start out by averaging single digits and they improve pretty quickly,” Maus says. “Last spring, Will made state with an average of 23.8 targets per round. That’s only 12 missed targets out of 250.

“It’s even more fun to see our past middle school kids, like Will and Ava, now running the show and helping younger kids in the sport.”

Community of Anglers 

Like clay target, fishing is a sport in which anyone, any size, can excel. And for Schugel, who helped the Holy Family soccer team to the state tournament this year and also competes in hockey, fishing offers a different type of competitive satisfaction.

“It’s not like a sport where you need a team,” he explains. “You need a great partner. You fish against everyone else in the tournament, including kids from your school. The highest combined weight from a five-bass limit determines the winner.”

Schugel adds that fishing offers a different pace from other sports, and because it takes place over the summer months, it allows time to enjoy something refreshingly different.

“It’s pretty calm,” he says. “You’re on the water, tossing lures. And when you get a fish, there is an adrenalin rush that comes with it. It’s something everyone can do, even if you don’t have a lot of experience.”

To get involved, students need their own equipment, a partner, and one boat and volunteer captain per team (two anglers). To help offset costs, the team secures sponsors and receives discounts on fishing equipment.

And the rules?

  • Anglers fish in three conference tournaments against 40-50 teams from other schools.
  • Five fish limit per team, maximum weight, 12-inch minimum.
  • Boat captains can discuss strategy and provide advice, but cannot handle or assist in netting fish.
  • Anglers qualify for the state tournament based on a point system, awarded on team finishes.

According to O’Donnell, the greatest reward during the first season was seeing Holy Family anglers support each other. The result—every angler improved tournament-to-tournament, with three Holy Family teams qualifying for the two-day state tournament in Grand Rapids on Pokegama Lake.

Fishing offers a differently paced competition.

“Like clay target, there is a camaraderie on the fishing team,” O’Donnell says. “There is a team component, competition and a social piece that make the overall experience rewarding.”

“The kids are very digitally connected,” he says. “Between competition, they learn new techniques online, give each other tips, and post pictures on what’s working.” A group of anglers also volunteered at the Minnesota Bass Adult state tournament and the Classic Bass Championship.  Their reward for doing so was insights from fishing pros and two anglers earned a wildcard spot for the state tournament.

For Schugel, the reward isn’t having the chance to participate in a sport he obsesses about. In fact, as a senior, he cannot compete this summer once he graduates from Holy Family in May.

“I want to see our team do well this summer, and leave Holy Family with a stable group of kids who love to fish and will continue the program,” he says.

Judging by the overwhelming interest in high school outdoor sports, both fishing and clay trap have good shots at growth for many years to come.