Golden footballs and priceless memories

It isn’t easy to get to my father’s hometown. At best you have to fly into Pittsburgh and drive 76 miles east over the Allegheny Range, hoping the roads stay clear as you climb Chickaree Mountain on route 22.

We made the pilgrimage entirely by car for most of my life, an excruciating 12-hour road trip we all looked forward to because it ended in my grandma’s kitchen, where she served us friendly gossip along with apricot cookies, pieroghis, halubki, and walnut roll.

I thought our trips to Colver ended when my Grandma died, but happily, today we’ll be heading that way again.

Thanks to the NFL’s Super Bowl High School Honor Roll Initiative, a whole bunch of Kostelniks will be making their way to my dad’s high school tonight to witness the Golden Ball presentation, which honors the high schools of athletes who played in the Super Bowl. As a member of Vince Lombardi’s Packers, my dad played in both Super Bowl I and II.

We’re excited to visit Central Cambria High School and shake hands with the kind people assembled there. My dad loved his high school experience and returned for reunions as often as he could.

He spoke with great respect about his high school football coach Jim Cook and remained lifelong friends with the coach’s daughter Nancy.

In addition to honoring my dad and the high school that sent him on his way, I’m looking forward to hanging out with our family — his older brother, younger sister and their families, my mom and her sister, my siblings and a whole passel of Kostelnik cousins. We’re all hoping to connect with our Colver relatives, and to make a stop at our Pap’s favorite watering hole, Sisti’s.

The accidental timing of our trip makes it even more special. My Dad’s 76th birthday would have been yesterday and tonight the NFL is airing the first Super Bowl.

We’ll raise our glasses tonight to toast my Dad, the town, the school and the people he loved.


These are my cousins, my siblings and me on my grandma and pap’s front porch in Colver, PA. I’m guessing this is 1977 or so.
Same cousins. Same porch approximately 20 years later.
Pap and Baba on their front porch in Colver
We’ll miss seeing these two holding court on their front porch when we drive down 20 Row.
Charlie and Pap
I’m thrilled to have unearthed this picture of Charlie and his great grandpa Micky. Pap was a coal miner and here he and Charlie are sporting company hats.
Pap and the kids
A dapper Pap, with my Uncle George, my dad and my cute little Aunt Martha.
HIgh school football photo
How cute is this picture of my dad and his Central Cambria High School team?

9 thoughts on “Golden footballs and priceless memories

  1. This was a special evening. Enjoyed seeing all of the family. Adopted cousin. Haha

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