Making Christmas Giving a Family Affair

HF Students Make Christmas Giving a Family Affair

Gather around for a Christmas story that keeps on giving. But first, picture this scene…

It’s early Christmas morning 1980-something. A fresh snowfall blankets the ground outside. Inside, Christmas-tree lights splash a warm glow over carefully wrapped packages. Nearby, a young Johnny Dols fidgets, patiently waiting for his chance to open a gift.

Little did he know on this Christmas Day he was about to experience an overwhelming joy that continues to live in his heart today.

“I remember those Christmas mornings and the gifts I’d get,” says John Dols, now Holy Family’s Assistant Principal and Campus Minister. “None was more special than the year I got a Storm Shadow G.I. Joe. It was like the gift of the year–and I got it! I knew it meant something. My Mom had to do something extra special to get one of those for me.”

School Rallies Around Families

That childhood memory drives Dols’ commitment to bringing Christmas magic to Twin Cities’ kids whose families are in need. Since joining Holy Family Catholic High School 12 years ago, Dols has ignited the Sponsor-A-Family Program, which has delivered Christmas joy to more than 150-plus families.

Students hold out their hands during a prayer of blessing over the gifts during Convocation in early December. The gifts are then prepared for delivery to families.

“It helps many of our students realize some families may not have a Christmas like those you see on TV,” he says. “When you can’t provide for your family, it’s very personal and emotional. What helps is that we not only give the gifts, but also include wrapping paper, tape, and other materials so parents can wrap the gifts for their family. It gives them the chance to make it their Christmas celebration.”

Dols is quick to point out this Holy Family tradition isn’t a one-person effort. (He’s good, but he admits he isn’t Santa Claus.) It takes just about every student, teacher, and administrator to make it happen. The goal is to make sure every family’s “wish list” is filled and complete.

Classrooms adopt individual families. Large families are divided among multiple classes. One eight-member family presented this list:

  • Two baby dolls
  • A remote-control car
  • A stuffed unicorn
  • Winter jackets and boots
  • Hoodies, jeans, and tennis shoes
  • A small kitchen appliance and cookware
  • And multiple sets of bedding

Each sponsored family also receives a sizable gift card to the grocery store of their choice to help with a holiday meal.

Student-Led Tradition

Science teacher Ian Parzyck’s B-period chemistry class traditionally takes the Sponsor-A-Family tradition seriously. Parzyck turns the program over to students to get the job done. And every year, his class delivers big time.

Students in Mr. Parzyck’s Honors Chemistry class prepare gifts for their sponsored family.

Leading efforts for his class this year were 10th graders Alex P., Sydney L., and Elle B. (See photo above.) Together, they collected cash donations from classmates, and then handled the shopping duties. Alex was out on the busiest shopping weekend of the year to stretch their dollars. She consulted with Sydney and Elle via Snapchat and texts for individual gift ideas, selections and picks until their family’s wish list was complete.

“There are a lot of families that go through Christmas and don’t have the joy of receiving gifts that most Holy Family students do,” Sydney says. “Everyone in our class seems to realize that and were eager to contribute.”

Alex adds, “This service project is fun because you know you are directly providing for a particular family. They are directly impacted by what you’re doing for them.”

Holy Family’s Sponsor A Family project culminates at an all-school convocation in early December. The gifts are carefully marked and identified for distribution to each family, blessed, and loaded onto and a large box truck sent from Sponsor A Family MN.

“Other schools do different types of programs, like Toys for Tots and giving trees, but this one fits Holy Family,” Dols explains. “We’re all about the family, so why not pick a service program that makes a difference for entire families.

While the sponsor-a-program supports families outside of our community, Holy Family Catholic High School recognizes there is need within our school for families to receive financial assistance in order to provide Catholic education for their children. Please consider supporting tuition assistance with a gift to the Holy Family Annual Fund.

Click here to read our Advent Annual Fund Appeal Letter.  If you would like to make a gift to The Holy Family Annual Fund, you may download and print the form on the letter, click on the link in the postscript of the letter, or make an online donation by clicking the button below.

Make a Gift to the Holy Family Annual Fund

Why Holy Family? Ask the Class of 2022

We hear your questions. They’re good questions that go something like this:

  • What can new students at Holy Family Catholic High School expect?
  • Why is it the best high school for my kid?
  • Is the buzz about Holy Family accurate? Or “fake news?”

To help out, we asked questions from the most credible, honest and believable sources­—the students who most recently transitioned from middle school to Holy Family. We call them Fire ’22.

Recently, we spoke with 10 students from this year’s ninth grade class. They told us exactly what on their minds after their first few months at Holy Family. Before we get into the good stuff, here’s a snapshot of the Fire ’22 students who shared their thoughts:

Nick C., Chanhassen, St. Hubert Catholic School

Libby K., Bloomington, Calvin Christian School

Luke G., Minnetrista, Our Lady of the Lake School

Ryley C., Shakopee, Shakopee East Junior High

Cassie B., Chanhassen, Minnetonka Middle School West

Briar C., Victoria, Chaska Middle School East

Maeve K., Victoria, Guardian Angels Catholic School

Sebastian G., Prior Lake, Belle Plaine Junior High

Matt S., Chanhassen, Guardian Angels Catholic School

Jack B., Minnetonka, Minnetonka Middle School West

Now to those questions…

Why did you choose Holy Family?

Libby K. – I originally came here for sports. I’m a  hockey player.  Once I was here, I found out it is a really good community. It’s small enough that there is a sense of team, but big enough that you can meet lots of different people.

Ryley C. – I knew Shakopee (high school) would be too big of a school for me to enjoy. When I was at my Confirmation class, I saw Holy Family students serving food. From there, I got the idea to tour and shadow and decided this was the school for me.

Maeve K. – The small class sizes really work for me.

Sebastian G. – My mom wanted me to get in touch with God. It’s been good.

Complete your application for enrollment by December 1 and the application fee is waived.

How has the transition been from middle school to Holy Family?

Luke G. – So far it is going well. The classes are much different than middle school—the amount of homework and the time in class taking notes.

Ryley C. – Grades matter now. I didn’t act like they didn’t matter before, but now you’re in classes with upperclassmen. One thing I found out is, I like school here more than I used to and I’m excited to go every day.

Cassie B. – Since I went to a huge middle school, it was easy coming to a much smaller school. But I had to adjust to the fact we have more work, but it’s manageable. They give you study halls.

What is the biggest surprise or myth about Holy Family?

Nick C. – Biggest changes I see…lunch is really good and you have classes with students from other grades.

Libby K. – I kind of like uniforms because there is enough variation to express yourself, but there’s still unity.

Cassie B. – I have some friends who aren’t Catholic. Everyone is very accepting, and that makes it possible for everyone to come here and enjoy it.

Maeve K. – The upperclassmen are really inclusive and talk to freshmen. If I need help, the teachers are always there to give me a hand.

Jack B. – The biggest myth—people who go to Catholic schools aren’t fun. It’s really fun here.

What advice do you have for middle school students looking at Holy Family vs. other area schools?

Shadow Visits can be scheduled through our admissions office via email at or by phone at 952.443.1955

Nick C. – Holy Family is a smaller school. That means if you want to play sports, you can just about play any position you want.

Luke G. – I’d say just talk with everyone and be yourself. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

Cassie B. – I would say try it out. Come for a Shadow Day. I thought I was going to Minnetonka and that if I came here, I wouldn’t have friends. I totally changed my mind on my Shadow Day. I met a lot of friends. All you have to do is get involved.

Maeve K. – Be open to anything and do your research because Holy Family is a great place to be. And because it is Catholic means we can say “God” and “Merry Christmas.” That’s a unique opportunity.

Matt S. – Get involved in a fall sport. You meet a lot of people that way.

Jack B. – Just shadow and give it a shot. If you like it, cool. If not, you get to miss a day of school.

What is your favorite thing about being part of the HF “family”?

Nick C. – My favorite thing is the atmosphere. It wraps the Catholic faith into school life with our daily convocations.

Ryley C. – The community and the academics are really good.

Briar C. – You feel safe being here.

Matt S. – I’ve gotten to know a lot of people really fast because it’s a small community where you can actually know everyone.

Applications completed before December 1 will have have the application fee waived.

Complete an Application for Enrollment


Investments Impact Every Holy Family Student

STEAM Funding Impacts Every Holy Family Student

Generous donors attending the 2017 Holy Family Spirit of Fire fundraiser showed passionate support for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). Just how enthusiastic? More than $100,000 was committed through a special one-evening “Fund-a-Need” campaign targeted to preparing all students for the wave of upcoming career opportunities.

Besides a groundswell of support for the cause, this wasn’t just any Fund-a-Need project, says Holy Family President Michael Brennan. This one was special and has become visible throughout Holy Family classrooms and activities.

“The beauty of this Fund-a-Need is that it impacts every student coming through the building,” Brennan says. “It didn’t single out a specific department or grade level to serve as the beneficiary; rather, it touches multiple dimensions for our educational programing and created a real sense of equity experienced by staff and students alike.”

The first addition from the STEAM Fund-a-Need was the purchase of a large-format 3D printer in the Technology Lab last fall. By the end of this school year, all capital equipment being added through the STEAM Fund-a-Need campaign will be purchased and in place to benefit Holy Family students.

“This Fund-a-Need gave us an opportunity to bring different departments together and ask what was needed outside of the conservative budgets we typically work with,” Brennan says. “It was a chance to ask, ‘What do we need to take things to the next level?’ ”

Here is a list of significant investments made from the infusion of STEAM funding, and how each impacts students at Holy Family:



  • 20 Wolfe Beta Elite Monocular Microscopes – Complete January 2019
  • New flume hood in Chemistry Lab – Ready for 2019-20 school year

Benefits to Holy Family Students:

  • Students entering biological fields in college will be better prepared for laboratory work, having experience with higher level scope mechanics and design.
  • New microscope features, such as better resolution, create a superior lab experience. Students will be able to see better, identify and understand cellular structures and processes.
  • The new microscopes are low maintenance and are expected to last 15 to 20 years.
  • The new flume hood, a glass-enclosed exhaust fan that pushes air and toxic gases out of the building, provides additional space for AP Chemistry students to safely perform a broader range of lab activities.

Science Department Insights

“The science department had previously set aside budget to purchase a small number of these microscopes,” says biology teacher Josh Dwyer. “Funds from the Fund-a-Need helped us reach a 1:1 ratio of students to microscopes for all biological labs, including Biology, Anatomy & Physiology and AP Biology. Essentially this purchase will impact every single student that comes through Holy Family.”



  • Large 3D Printer – December 2017
  • CNC (Computer Numeric Control) Milling Machine– September 2018
  • Multiple-Materials 3D Printer – September 2018

Benefits to Holy Family Students:

  • Students in both engineering graphics and robotics have more hands-on learning opportunities by creating more custom parts and prototypes for testing.
  • CNC machine introduces students to the highly sought skill of machine programming, adding a vocational option in the skilled trades.
  • Architecture students can create scale models using the large-format 3D printer.
  • The Multiple-Materials 3D Printer has a 4-head extruder, providing additional flexibility in creating new parts for competitive robots designed and built by the Holy Family Robotics team.

 Technology Department Insights

“Holy Family technology and engineering students now have access to equipment that meets or exceeds other area high schools,” says technology instructor Nick Livermore. “The Multiple-Material 3D printer was on backorder because of high demand from schools and makers. And once we received the CNC machine, we had to wait for new electric to be installed. Everything should be running by Christmas–the improvements we’ll see in the tech lab are worth the wait–and just in time for the heavy robotics building season.”



  • Digital Kiln – June 2018
  • Kawai GL30 – October 2018

Benefits to Holy Family Students:

  • The new Digital Kiln provides more consistent heat regulation, resulting in better results and outcomes.
  • Up to 75 clay pieces can be fired at once in the new kiln, nearly doubling the volume of the previous kiln. The volume increase is credited to consistent heat throughout the entire kiln.
  • The new kiln, which heats up to 2,200°F, offers improved safety with upgraded ventilation as part of the installation and purchase.
  • The new piano is a high-quality addition to the music program, replacing a used piano that was in place since the school opened nearly 20 years ago.
  • The student body, alumni and parents will experience the new piano at the upcoming Fall Coffee House (Nov. 1) and Spirit of Fire fund-raiser (Nov. 10).

 Art/Music Department Insights

“If you don’t have a functioning kiln, you don’t have a clay program,” says art teacher Shelagh Gamble. “This was a necessary investment. The old kiln was starting to cost more to fix than it was to replace it. We use 4,000 pounds of clay a year with 100 kids taking classes. It is a great investment!”

“I’m looking forward to the Coffee House when the piano makes its debut,” says Brennan. “It’s not every day you buy a new piano. We had one of our teachers ‘test drive’ different models and came back with a No. 1 choice. That’s what we’ll be hearing.”



  • Faculty Training, Minnesota Council of Teachers of Math, Spring Conference, Duluth – May 2018

Benefits to Holy Family Students:

  • Faculty learned enhanced methods of introducing technology into classroom teaching methods.
  • Training focused on developing “thinkers” and “problem solvers” through math concepts.
  • Faculty was introduced to new standards to better prepare students for college mathematics and success in their chosen fields.

Math Department Insights

“This wasn’t just about shiny objects,” says Brennan. “It was energizing and inspiring seeing the Math Department seeking professional development and craving to better themselves as teachers. It supports the model of lifelong learning and seeking to always become the best version of ourselves.”

What’s On Tap?

According to Brennan, the investments made from the STEAM Fund-a-Need has infused excitement throughout Holy Family, for both students and faculty. His goal is to carry on that spirit not only this school year, but also many more to come.

“Something like this builds optimism. It becomes contagious when you see contributions being spent to support the cause as they were intended,” Brennan said. “We’ll be planning a new Fund-a-Need campaign for this year’s Spirit of Fire. We’re hoping for the same enthusiastic response. Hopefully, last year’s STEAM Fund-a-Need affirms these gifts are being well stewarded.”

Click HERE to read more about last year’s Spirit of Fire and Strom Engineering’s support of Holy Family’s investment in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

3 Reasons Holy Family Students Succeed

If you’re numbers driven, it is unquestionable that Holy Family Catholic High School students prove year, after year, after year that they are prepared for college.

What are the indicators? Here are some of the biggies:

  • Average ACT Score (2018): 25.5; Average ACT Score of Top 25% (2018): 31.5; Average ACT Score of Top 10% (2018): 32.61
  • College Attendance (2018): 94% (2-Year College attendance (2017) 1%, Athletic Opportunity (2018) with plans to attend college: 5%)
  • College Completion Rate 6 years out of high school: 84% (National Avg. 53%) Source: National Student Clearinghouse, tracks students for six-years in 98% of all colleges

What the numbers don’t tell is…WHY?

  • WHY do Holy Family students routinely outperform Minnesota students taking the ACT by an average of 5 points over the past 5 years?
  • WHY do Holy Family graduates succeed their first year in college?
  • WHY do Holy Family students graduate from college way above averages from other high schools, according to The National Student Clearinghouse?

“One of the things people always point to is ACT test scores,” says Kathie Brown, Holy Family Catholic High School principal. “Yet test scores are not everything. It’s important to be a thoughtful, reflective, rational thinker, and to take action when you have strengths to be active. You can’t have other people think and do things for you. That is what is important in post-secondary education.”

With that, we set out to put our finger on some of the specifics that answer why Holy Family Catholic High School students succeed in college. We asked five experts, all of whom have worked with Holy Family students and seen them succeed in college and beyond. They are:

  • Kathie Brown, Holy Family Catholic High School Principal
  • Jeanne Weber, Owner, collegeONE, helping students organize and streamline the college application process
  • Melissa Livermore, Holy Family Dean for Academic Support
  • Josh Rutz, Holy Family Counselor

Three Reasons Holy Family Students Succeed

Based on independent interviews with each of these experts committed to helping students achieve success beyond Holy Family, there are a number of reasons why they are successful in college, starting with year one. But these three stand out:

1. Students Leave with Exceptional Writing and Communication Skills. Brown admits this can be a challenge in a society driven by digital devices. But that doesn’t change the need to be articulate, she says. When it comes to excelling in college, students with exceptional writing and verbal skills stand out among peers.

Kathie Brown: “If you can’t communicate well, your ideas will die with you. Our kids are not afraid to express their ideas. They can speak in public and they know how to write when they leave here. They are going to wind up helping their peers in college.”

Jeanne Weber: “There seems to be an emphasis on writing (at Holy Family) in more than just English class. I see a focus on writing in history and many of the other classes. This makes Holy Family kids stronger communicators than what I see from other schools. Even when they sit down with an adult, they are a little more at ease. They listen and have great communication skills.”

Josh Rutz: “One thing we consistently hear is that the workload, particularly the written papers, helps our students succeed in college. Alumni often say when it comes to knowing how to study, knowing the expectations of how to be good students and writing papers in college, they say they are well prepared. Doesn’t matter what college they attend. It seems every single student is saying they are well prepared.”

2. Opportunities Build Leadership Skills. Small numbers seem to deliver big results at Holy Family. With an average student-teacher ratio of 13:1, students can’t fly under the radar at Holy Family. Plus, they participate in extracurricular activities in extremely high numbers. The result is an expectation that Holy Family students lead.

Melissa Livermore: “Almost 100 percent of our students are involved in something, and many in more than one thing. By the time they leave Holy Family, our students have excellent time management skills because they are so involved.”

Josh Rutz: “(Holy Family) Students are not just focusing on school, but every other aspect in their lives—volunteering, work, sports, clubs, activities, and in faith and religious aspects. If anything, they’re too busy. Sometimes, they overwork themselves because they are such great leaders and want to have an impact on all aspects of life. One example: We bring kids on service trips all over the world. Those experiences change our kids in great ways. That’s why they do so well in college and after.”

Jeanne Weber: “When I look at Holy Family kids, the biggest advantage they have is the ability to participate. They have great social interactions, which comes from being in a small school, expecting students to take leadership roles and help out others. Participation helps them with leadership skills. They understand the nature of college, and that they’re going there to learn stuff. They’re just a little more well rounded and make good decisions while in college. They are substantially prepared to take that on.”

3. Holy Family Students Advocate for Themselves and Others. Often overlooked, this skill possibly should be at the top of this list. It shows confidence, drive, leadership and independent learning at a very high level.

Jeanne Weber: “Holy Family students are very confident. They’re not boastful, but they are confident. If they see something that needs to be done, they do it. And they know when they need help. At Holy Family, there is an expectation that you are going to do well. Whatever that well is for you. And that’s a reflection of college.”

Josh Rutz: “Holy Family students are not afraid to ask questions. They become great self-advocates and advocates for others. We push and see growth in that from 9th to 12th grade. No matter where they are at, they are willing to ask for help or help each other out when in need. It provides that feeling of never being alone.”

Kathie Brown: “Holy Family students believe in goals. They know it takes practice and time. They know that, ‘Just because I want, doesn’t mean I can have.’ They keep going after it. I love the persistence and perseverance. When catapulted in new places, they are still OK. They know these are the things I need to do and these are the people I need to find to succeed.”

Holy Family students become critical thinkers.

While those three reasons are the consensus favorites, there are many more reasons Holy Family students succeed in college. Here are a few additional thoughts from our experts on why Holy Family Catholic High School students are ready for a successful college experience, starting with day one.

  • Holy Family Students Think About Thinking. It is almost a lost skill in the digital age, says Brown. “They reflect about what they do and why they do it. They have great thoughts and are not afraid to express ideas.”

Livermore agrees: “We want to make sure students are geared toward learning and understanding. Not just for a grade or to check a box. We want them to learn and understand, and think about thinking.”

  • Students Experience Challenging Course Rigor. “We have high standards and hold all students to them,” Livermore adds. “This gives them confidence to take reasonable risks, such as trying new classes that they wouldn’t have before. It doesn’t scare them off, because they know how to do it, and that they can do it.”
  • Life Skills Are Taught at Holy Family. “Students leave here knowing what they need for a successful future,” Brown says. “They’re able to collaborate with peers; work with professors and faculty; and develop a sense of service and true caring for others. These all translate into aspects they’ll use in their lives and the working world.”
  • “Family Network” = Success. “The family atmosphere here pushes kids at a different level,” Rutz says. “When they have hard times and fall, they know where to turn. They come back here, turn to their families and turn to their experiences here at Holy Family that helped them grow. They have the confidence to tackle life. And life is not always easy.”
  • A Sense of Sacrifice and Direction. “I do think Holy Family kids, because their family is paying for high school, have a sense that people are sacrificing to send them there,” Weber adds. “And, maybe because of that, they have a better sense of what direction they want to head in. They can confidently take that step into college.”

Attend our Fall Open House and find out what’s waiting at Holy Family for your child.  Open house details and registration available HERE.

Behind the Scenes: Football

Holy Family Football Starts New Chapter

If you want to know the direction Holy Family Catholic High School’s football program is heading under new head Coach Tim Triplett, you don’t need a crystal ball. You need to look in the rearview mirror and talk to people the Fire coach has inspired.

Players like Nick Olson, one of Triplett’s early recruits out of Minnesota to the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where Triplett was a positions coach from 2010 to 2014.

“…He teaches life lessons by using the game of football as the medium.”

“When he came through and we talked, it wasn’t about covering the bullet points like a lot of other coaches,” Olson recalls. “He was asking what was I looking for and who was I as a person rather than trying to sell me to USD. He wanted to see if I was a fit there. He’s a genuine person and tries to get to know you.”

And, once he knows you, Olson says, he makes sure his passion for football and living life right rubs off on everyone he comes in contact with. Olson, now a tight ends coach at the University of St. Thomas, recalls it took just one small, seemingly insignificant moment to jump-start his deep passion for college football.

“One of my first practices at USD, I made a play—a pretty good play,” Olson recalls. “He (Triplett) yelled out in front of everyone, ‘Would you look at that—Nick Olson, the pride of Richfield, Minnesota High School!’

“That was a big moment for a true college freshman 5 hours away from home in a fairly large Division I football program,” Olson says. “I didn’t expect or even know he was watching.”

The lasting impact Triplett has on players like Olson has become his legacy wherever he has coached. He’s invested in people and does everything he can to make little moments life changing. Now, he’ll share those shining moments with Holy Family Catholic High School student athletes.

“Tim is one of those guys who coaches football for the right reasons,” says Jim Kilian, head coach of St. Olaf football in Northfield, who was the offensive coordinator at the University of St. Thomas while Triplett coached various specialized positions from 2015 to 2018.

“Tim doesn’t do it for the notoriety or name recognition, but for the opportunity to give back and give others the same opportunities he had through football. He teaches life lessons by using the game of football as the medium.”

HF Football Starts Off the Field

“What I told guys in early team meetings is that there is culture and legacy here at Holy Family. We’re not going to change it but add to it,” he explains.

Coach Triplett, relaxed in a random chair scattered among many empty ones in the Holy Family team meeting room on a quiet July morning, shared his vision on Holy Family football—where it’s been and where he sees it going. The conversation surprisingly begins far removed from X’s and O’s.

“What I told guys in early team meetings is that there is culture and legacy here at Holy Family. We’re not going to change it but add to it,” he explains.

“We should be honored to be a part of it and will continue to grow it and enhance what we can so we positively influence those around us. We’re going to be measured by how we add value to other people’s lives by being a football player here.”

What does that mean? According to Triplett, Holy Family players:

  • Hold doors for others
  • Look people in the eye when they shake hands
  • Hustle across the street when there’s a walk signal
  • And always play hard, play together and play fast

Simple things like these send a message not only about his program, but also about the entire school.

“That, by extension, is the Holy Family way,” Coach Triplett says. “That’s what drew me here. We’re all on the same page.”

So far, the players have heard his message loud and clear, says senior Dominic Philliips.

“He’s super energetic and always available if you have any questions,” Phillips says. “And, he emphasizes the importance of a Catholic education and how important it is for us to give Holy Family a good rep.”

Coach Triplett, who likes to randomly toss in movie references to make a point, shared this thought: “I think they form a symbiotic circle, it is all encompassing of one,” he chuckles, noting his clever Star Wars reference. “Once we get culture right, a lot of things start going your way.”

Field Report: High Energy, Heavy D

Triplett introduced “Trip Football” to the team on the Holy Family practice field last June. It was the first organized team activity (OTA), one of 11 team activities coaches can conduct before the mandated two-week “blackout” (no contact with team).

“It’s definitely high tempo. There’s no lollygagging,” says senior Ryan Bowlin. “Coach emphasizes if you do the little things right and go at 110% percent, you’ll get into a good tempo that will show in the games.” (Find a schedule of games HERE.)

Phillips adds, “There’s never a dull moment. We’re always in ‘attack mode,’ always keeping the defense on its toes.”

Phillips adds, “There’s never a dull moment. We’re always in ‘attack mode,’ always keeping the defense on its toes.”

That type of high-spirited practice is by design. “The transition from a practice to a game is going to be seamless,” Triplett says. “Our practices are going to be chaotic, stuff going on all the time just like a game.”

While it may feel frenzied to the players, Triplett’s plan is well thought out. “He’s very intentional with everything he does, even if it is a little different,” Olson says. “There is always a rhyme and a reason to what he does. That is what is unique compared to other coaches.”

Triplett did share his concrete plan to getting his Holy Family football program off on the right foot, and it starts with these early priorities:

  1. Organizing practice and meetings. “We’re setting expectations of what we’re doing on a daily basis and finding that groove that the kids will respond to.”
  2. Getting to know each other. “This is a completely different team than last year, with new players, coaches in new positions and a different style. It will force us to focus on the process, not the outcome.”
  3. Defining personnel. “We’re going to move dudes around. Where they think they’re playing now may not be indicative of where they’re playing in August.”
  4. Setting realistic goals. “Our goals should be to get better every day and improve. They will come in the form of what we do on a daily basis.”

Players have also seen an increased focus on conditioning, the need to understand a more complex college-style playbook (including five-receiver sets) and the expectation of knowing what all positions on the field are doing during any given play.

“There definitely is more focus on the playbook, which is because we have a new coach and he really knows his stuff and wants us to be just as knowledgeable,” senior Sam Riegert says.

All those high expectations deliberately deliver against what Coach Triplett wants people to notice when Holy Family takes the field for its first game on August 30.

“When you watch a ‘Trip Team,’ you’re going to face speed, physicality and lots of running, in no particular order,” Triplett says. “And, I’d have to say it starts with D. We have to be a team that will play fast, physical and together. Offensively, we’ll find a way to move the ball. We have the athletes here to do that.”

Setting the Tone for the Future

While Triplett is careful not to promise lofty goals for his first season (“If you set a goal, be careful how you word it,” he says), the players themselves have high expectations.

“We were 10-0 our freshman year and are a class that is close and loves football,” Phillips says. “Coach gives us achievable expectations and wants to help us achieve our goals.”

“Everyone has a mindset that they want to make it to state,” Riegert adds. “We have a talented senior class and plan to improve step by step, game by game.”

Coach Triplett, on the other hand, has a more simple approach to what he wants the players to experience this season.

“We work too hard not to have a lot of fun.”

“I’m looking for enthusiasm. We work too hard not to have a lot of fun. I tell my players, ‘Don’t forget to have fun. There will be longer days and frustrating plays, but always find the pieces where you have fun.’ ”

That approach is likely where Triplett will make the greatest impression his first season at Holy Family. His passion and energy will be noticeable at practice, on the sidelines and in the huddle. He’s looking to the seniors to grasp that energy and share it with players coming up. If they do, it will pay off for years to come.

“The numbers are certainly important,” Triplett says. “We’re going to need to grow numbers in certain positions. Hopefully, we start to grow our own numbers by examples we set, games we win and how we carry ourselves on and off the field.”

Olson was a part of that same vision 8 years ago at USD. He credits Coach Triplett for setting him up for football success that has lasted to this day.

“He shows you what being passionate about life and everything about it is about,” Olson shares. “He’s always the guy who is happy and excited about every day. It can rub off on you.”

Coach Triplett’s 12 Nuggets of Wisdom

60-Plus Holy Family Extracurricular Activities

We’ve all been there. We invest in all kinds of activities for our kids to pursue. It’s part of the growing process: developing the whole person, not just academically, but physically, socially and emotionally.

Then, as high school nears, that little voice sounds the alarm in the back of a parent’s head. Is my daughter or son good enough to make the team? Can they continue with music? Get a part in the play? Compete with other students? Is high school the end of the line?

“It’s interesting comparing Holy Family to other large schools in the area,” says Activities Director Nick Tibesar. “We have kids staying with programs longer than what I saw in public schools. So often, in other schools, kids come in playing ball with friends during their summers and evenings, sometimes for years, and all of a sudden they end up as a high school freshman and sophomore not on a team anymore.”

Not at Holy Family Catholic High School. Here, students get an opportunity to participate in the sports and many other activities they are most passionate about. Plus, they often discover a wide variety of other sports, academic teams, clubs and activities they never considered.

“We encourage kids to try new things and stretch limits,” Nick says. “We want them to be involved in multiple things to fight some of the outside pressure to specialize in just one of them.”

Smaller School Size, Big Opportunities

With a student body of 400 kids, Holy Family provides unlimited opportunities to explore new things. Students often participate in more than one activity, not just during the school year, but also during a single season.

“When looking at sports, there are students who were on the trap and lacrosse teams, or tennis, track and baseball,” Nick says. “But more common is a kid who participates in both a sport and one of our academic competitions.

“We had a player on our basketball team who also was on our varsity Math League team. As a coach, I recall a half dozen times he had to go to Math League. No one acted like that was strange or gave him a hard time. We said, ‘How did Math League go? And cool you’re doing so well.’

“It’s fun to be in a culture where someone is not ostracized for picking academics over athletics.”

Endless Opportunities

With over 60 extracurriculars to choose from, your Holy Family student is destined to pursue his or her talents, while trying new activities outside of the classroom.

“There are a lot of people who chose Holy Family for the right reasons—faith-based environment, college prep, joining a community where their student is known and cared for,” Nick adds. “All of those things extend to our classroom, lunchroom and after-school activities.

“We consider extracurricular activities the last class of the day. And, they provide the same values as everything else at Holy Family.”


92% of Holy Family students participate in extracurricular activities

90% of Holy Family students participate in multiple extracurricular activities in a school year

60+ Holy Family extracurricular activities are offered each school year


New Girls Soccer Coach Hired

Holy Family hires Michael Murray from Dallas’ Bishop Dunne Catholic School to lead Fire Girls Soccer 

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

Michael Murray begins his work with the Holy Family soccer program immediately with a team and parent meeting on August 2nd.

Coach Murray arrives at Holy Family with a wealth of experiences at Catholic schools across the country.  A product of Conwell Eagan High School, in suburban Philadelphia, Murray excelled in soccer and in the classroom – earning admission to the University of Notre Dame where he earned Academic All-American honors, with a double-major in Physics and Mathematics.  Murray went on to receive a master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame’s prestigious Alliance for Catholic Education program.

Since 2014, Murray has been teaching at Bishop Dunne Catholic School in the Diocese of Dallas, Texas.  During his time in Dallas he served as a varsity assistant and junior varsity soccer coach, and a mentor to high school student athletes from all walks of life.

In addition to his soccer duties, Coach Murray will also be joining Holy Family Catholic High School as a math instructor.

Holy Family Activities Director Nick Tibesar is thrilled to snag such a strong and enthusiastic leader to lead the Fire Girls Soccer program.  “We were wowed by Coach Murray’s positivity, intellect, commitment to Catholic education, and passion for the game.  He is a caring and hardworking teacher and coach, with an immense capacity for leadership, and a heart for service. Our ability to have him in the building as a full-time educator and a resource for our players and program is invaluable. Holy Family is blessed to welcome Michael Murray into our community to lead the Fire Girls Soccer program into the future!”

Murray officially begins his work at Holy Family on August 2 with a meeting for players and parents at 7pm in the Holy Family Cafeteria, and with the start of practice on August 13 at 3pm.

Additional information about Michael Murray:


University of Notre Dame- South Bend, IN – BS in Physics, Mathematics

University of Notre Dame- South Bend, IN – M.Ed. Master of Education

Contact Information:

Nick Tibesar, HFCHS Activities Director –

Michael Murray, HFCHS Head Girls Soccer Coach –

The Victoria Connection

Holy Family’s Year-Round Victoria Connection

By Joseph Oakman, Holy Family Class of 2016

I look back on my Holy Family Catholic High School experience, and the first things that come to mind are those after-school runs to the local Holiday gas station for a snack before sports practices, or those ice cream stops in downtown Victoria after a baseball game on a warm summer night. My high school experience wouldn’t have been the same without the city of Victoria.

It seems Holy Family and Victoria are connected. While the city is quickly growing around Holy Family, the bond between school and community is also growing stronger as the school enters its 19th year.

Don’t take my word for it. Longtime Victoria resident Kelly Owens Hagel shared this thought:

“Holy Family is a warm welcoming community,” she says. “Even without having kids, I feel a sense of belonging. I feel like I am a part of the Holy Family community. I especially enjoy Friday nights in the fall when the (football field) lights are turned on and I drive by the field. It makes me think back to my days in high school.”

What residents of Victoria are learning is the connection to Holy Family Catholic High School extends year-round. Many students work for surrounding businesses and local restaurants that have become “unofficial” Holy Family gathering spots before or after home games and continue to be favorite stops in summer. And while it’s not documented anywhere, it has often been said Holy Family is one of the largest employers in Victoria.

To keep that community feeling going this summer, there are a number of events that connect Holy Family with Victoria. It’s not too late to enjoy more than one of these happenings that will keep you and your family coming Victoria during warm summer months.


Holy Family Robotics Demonstration, Victoria Library 

Members of the Holy Family Robotics team visited Victoria and Waconia Libraries In June.

Members of the Fire robotics team demonstrated their skills at the Victoria Library on June 12, just a week after school let out for the summer. Besides demonstrating a competitive robot, team members worked with kids of all ages eager to build cars, trucks and their own creative engineering marvels. 

Adopt a Highway

Holy Family’s student council maintains County Road 18 between Bavaria Road and Co. Rd 11. Students met June 1 to clean the roadway, and will organize a follow-up cleaning in early November so the Victoria community shines. Students are encouraged to keep the roadway clean all year as there is a posted “Adopt a Highway” sign indicating Holy Family maintains this stretch of road.

Running on Enki 5K

June 23 marked the inaugural “Running on Enki 5K” event, co-sponsored by Holy Family and the hometown Enki Brewing Company. The event also had a purpose—to enrich the lives of students and engage the local community with Holy Family. Missions accomplished!

Over 200 runners took part in the first ever Running on Enki 5K including HF staff, alumni, and students.

A few highlights:

-The event drew more than 200 participants, including many students, alumni and faculty who had a chance to visit and connect during the summer break.

-100% of the proceeds support Holy Family’s student activities and the Victoria Lions Park Baseball Field.

-Holy Family student Tyler Franck came in second followed by Holy Family Spanish instructor Jorge Oconitrillo.

See a photo gallery of the event by Holy Family student Collin Nawrocki ’21


Ready Tee Fire

The annual Ready Tee Fire Golf Classic was held July 16, 2018 at Victoria’s beautiful Deer Run Golf Course. The golf tournament is sponsored by the Holy Family Booster Club with proceeds raised supporting HFCHS activities.  It is one of the biggest fund-raisers of the year, and all are invited to play:

129 golfers participated in this year’s tournament.

– Alumni receive special ticket pricing and, for the past several years, have been a part of at least one winning team.

– The event is an opportunity for alumni to reconnect with each other, as well as parents and supporters of Holy Family.

– Over 30 Holy Family students and parents volunteer at this event each year.

Legion Baseball

During the summer, many Fire baseball players continue to play for the Holy Family Legion baseball team, which plays at Lions Park. These games are a fun way to get outside and enjoy the sun and warmth with your family and friends, and meet community spectators who enjoy the tradition of summer baseball.

St. Victoria Parish Outdoor Mass
Once per summer, Holy Family hosts a morning outdoor Mass for the St. Victoria Parish.  Mass is set up on the front lawn and guests are invited to fellowship following Mass. This year the Mass is on Friday, August 3.



A fun celebration of music and local eats, Volksfest is celebrated every summer in downtown Victoria and is put on by the Victoria Business Association. This summer, Volksfest will be held August 17-18, ending on Saturday with a spectacular fireworks display. Holy Family students volunteer to help set up for the event, supporting one of the city’s biggest events of the year.

St. Victoria Sunset Fest

St. Victoria Parish will be the hub of Victoria activity on Saturday, August 25 for its 21st annual Sunset Fest. The event, held on the parking lot of St. Victoria on Hwy. 11, has a packed schedule of activities:

– Kickoff to Sunset Fest starts with Mass at 5 p.m.

– An all-you-can-eat buffet follows at 6 p.m.

– Entertainment includes the Chmielewski Polka Band.

– Games for all ages, including Bingo, Lucky 13 Raffle and 18 kids games.-

– This year’s event includes an NCAA-style elimination corn-hole tournament with two age divisions—19 and older or 18 and younger. The Holy Family Catholic High School Football team has volunteered to run the first ever tournament.

“Our parishioners have a lot of kids that go to Holy Family and it is a great partnership for us,” says John Abel, Director of Shared Ministries at St. Victoria. “Our pastor, Fr. Bob White, has supported HFCHS from the very beginning.  We’re very pleased to come together for this ‘fun-raising’ event as another great Minnesota summer begins to wind down.  Sunset Fest is a wonderful opportunity for the Victoria community to come together.”

Game Plan for Every Student’s Success

Students at Holy Family start Day 1 with an eye toward a successful future. From the moment each ninth grader steps through the front doors—below the words “Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever”—the journey begins.

Every part of the Holy Family High School experience is a building block to a personalized and successful future. For 99 percent of the students, this means attending college. Whether they realize it or not, planning for post-high school academics has already begun.

To ensure every student gets the support needed to navigate the crucial years ahead, Holy Family Counseling has developed a four-year game plan. Helping each student complete the plan is one of five experienced guidance professionals, teaming up with a student all four years.

“Holy Family’s counselors are personally invested in students’ futures,” says Melissa Livermore, Dean of Academic Support. “It’s a holistic approach to academic preparation and the college search and application procedures, personalized to each student’s specific needs, goals and dreams.”

With a counselor-to-student ratio of 1:98, which is well below the American School Counselor Association’s recommended 1:250, Holy Family Counseling is well equipped and eager to meet the needs of each student. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect from Day 1 to graduation.

Ninth Grade: The year of discovery

It goes without saying that the first year is a critical year for high school students. While most students and parents are focusing on transitioning from middle school to the demands of high school, counselors are already looking ahead. To do that, they make it a three-way conversation right from the start, hosting a parent meeting to map out the next four years and shed light on the process. These parent-focused sessions continue for all four years.

“It’s very important to get parents into the loop because it’s a partnership—students, parents and school,” says counselor Laura Horton. “Being able to share things about kids (with parents) helps us support the students and create open lines of communication, so we’re all on the same page.”What else can first-year Holy Family students expect?

They begin learning about personal interests and strengths in new ways:

  • Career inventory and interest assessments are taken with the help of the MN Career Information System (MCIS), a portal for college preparation and application activities.
  • One-on-one guidance sessions are held between students and counselors.
  • Students take the PSAT9 exam, a predictor for future PSAT scores. These scores also direct students into Advanced Placement (AP) course options and chances to qualify for National Merit
    Scholar status.

Tenth Grade: Road map for the future

Armed with information gathered in ninth grade, students now have a road map that points in many exciting directions beyond Holy Family. What are the first steps students take to help navigate it? They begin pulling information through their MCIS portals and match it up with potential college options that are a strong fit. Exciting time? You bet!

But wait, there’s more…

  • ACT® prep begins through MCIS and by way of integrated ACT elements in HF curriculum.
  • During Leadership Institute, a required tenth-grade course, students take the StrengthsQuest test to identify their top talents, to gain a better sense of who they are as
    individuals. Counselors help students dive into the results to understand what they mean for each individual, their college search and career choices.
  • The guidance team also helps students build their portfolios and begin crafting academic resumes. These resumes bring students to a higher level of self-awareness. It’s a critical
    time to ask: What have I been doing? What do I need to be doing? Where can I take a leadership role?

As Horton explains to students in tenth grade: “Hone in on your strengths. Be a leader.”

Eleventh Grade: Dreams become plans

This is a critical year for high school students. It is the time when dreams become attainable. Guidance counselors help students zero in on college choices and ensure their Holy Family course loads meet the academic requirements for the schools on their application lists.

“Typically, by junior year, students have an idea of where they’re headed, what career fields they’re looking at,” Livermore says. “It’s a time to make sure they are on track and can reach their goals.”

    • This is also the year of college admissions testing. Early fall finds 100 percent of Holy Family eleventh graders taking the ACT® or PSAT Some students have been preparing through the summer to reach a goal score, after establishing a baseline test in tenth grade or earlier.
    • In the spring, members of the English Department meet with students to guide them in the college essay writing process. By the end of the academic year, students have a solid version of their college essay ready for college applications.

Twelfth Grade: Preparing for new beginnings

In a year filled with lasts, counseling is focused on ensuring students are ready for their next beginning beyond Holy Family. Deadlines are important and checked off, and assistance is given in making sure college financial commitments do not become barriers to achieving dreams.

Holy Family hosts a workshop in August to show students how to utilize Parchment, a digital transcript delivery service, and fill out the Common Application. Students can receive one-on-one assistance in filling out the Common Application, used by more than 750 colleges and universities around the country.

• 100 percent of Holy Family seniors successfully complete the college application process by November 1.

• A Financial Aid Workshop is held to guide students and parents through the process and identify opportunities.

• Students are constantly updated on scholarship offerings, and staff reaches out to students who fit criteria for specific scholarships.

• Excitement builds as the future is in sharp focus. Soon, acceptance letters hit students’ mailboxes.

According to Livermore, a counselor’s work isn’t quite finished.

“There’s still a lot of checkpoints to meet,” she says, and staff takes steps to ensure students are meeting all the important post-acceptance deadlines, including a critical one: May 1, National College Decision Day.

Horton sums up the Holy Family four-year game plan with a very simple, succinct sentence: “It’s how we make each student’s future dreams reality.”

Click on the button below to read our blog article, ” Three Reasons Holy Family Students Succeed.”

Three Reasons Holy Family Students Succeed

Turner Hired as Girls Basketball Coach

Holy Family hires Chanhassen Assistant to lead the Fire Girls Basketball Program

Holy Family Catholic High School Activities Office is pleased to announce the hiring of Adrian Turner as the school’s new head girls basketball coach.

Coach Turner has been an integral member of the girls basketball coaching staff at Chanhassen High School since he joined in 2012, and he was named the Section 2AAAA Assistant Coach of the Year in 2014. His duties at Chanhassen also include working full time in academic support and coaching baseball.

Prior to coming to Chanhassen, Turner earned his bachelor’s degree from Grambling State University, where he was a highly decorated 4-year scholarship athlete on the university’s baseball team, being named captain twice and earning South Western Athletic Conference Tournament MVP on the way to leading his team to a conference championship in 2010.

Holy Family Activities Director Nick Tibesar is thrilled to bring in such a strong leader, experienced coach, and man of character to lead the Fire Girls Basketball program into the future. “We were wowed by Coach Turner’s commitment to leading through service, his leadership capacity, and his passion for helping young people achieve their goals and dreams. He is an effective communicator, a student of the game, and an experienced and well-connected coach in the area. Holy Family is excited to welcome Coach Turner into our community to lead the Fire Girls Basketball program into the future.”

Turner officially begins his work at Holy Family on June 18 with an open meeting for parents and players at 3pm in the Holy Family Performance Center, and with summer skills programs and Holy Family’s youth basketball camp starting on June 25th.

Additional information about Adrian Turner:


Grambling State University- Grambling, LA – BA in Kinesiology – Sports Management

Contact Information:

Nick Tibesar, HFCHS Activities Director –

Adrian Turner, HFCHS Head Girls Basketball Coach –

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