flag football team

In a display of pigskin prowess that would humble even the mighty New England Patriots, Chicago Heights School District 170’s Grant School captured it’s sixth championship in nine years at the district’s annual Flag Football Tourney played earlier this month.

The squad, coached by teachers Ryan Kvasnicka and Justin Opiola, earned the title with a 32-12 victory over defending champion Greenbriar School.

"I am very proud of the student-athletes of Grant School, especially considering the fact that we went into the tournament as a decided underdog” Opiola said.

“After losing to the defending champions (Greenbriar) last week we made every possible adjustment to best prepare the team to succeed in the tournament’s final rounds.”

Opiola noted that sports and competition emulate life providing an opportunity to rise to a challenge, make proper adjustments, execute those changes, and in the end, succeed.

“I could not be any prouder of the students who did everything that Ryan and I asked them to do...everything we asked them to do, and more,” he said.

“Let me provide you with an alliteration even though I am only a P.E. teacher, this is the sweetest of the six spectacular successes,” Kvasnicka added.

“I am most proud of the students for their hard work and efforts paying off in the end. They faced adversity and rose to the challenge earning back what was rightfully theirs through a combination of hard work and dedication."

Opiola and Kvasnicka agreed, however, that the most important aspect of the team dynamic was the sportsmanship the team showed.

“Sportsmanship is the quality that we work hardest at teaching,” Kvasnicka said, “because it extends to every part of the life experience.”

“Grant students always exhibit the utmost in sportsmanship,” Opiola concluded, “and that is what makes me most proud.”

“The opportunity that was given to us to teach these students to embody excellent manners on and off the field and to always display proper sportsmanship toward the opponent and toward teammates whether winning or losing is a challenge that we embrace with all our hearts."

The Grant Flag Football team was made up of sixth-graders Ben Phelps, Manny Salazar, Byron Sesma, and Felipe Quintero; seventh-graders John Gerasimou, Abel Tovar, Nathan Mota, Isaac Ramos, Johan Paredes, Ricky Garcia, Owusu Ansong, Shamal Lloyd, Julian Turner, and Manny Phelps; and eighth-graders Abril Salazar, Victor Villarreal, Marcus Nabor, Cristian Lagunas, and Santiago Aceves.