Ninety-one-year old Lido poured the Yuengling. Cousin Julie baked the walnut roll. Uncle George and Aunt Martha brought the memories. The NFL provided the occasion and Central Cambria High School did all the rest.
My dad, Ron Kostelnik’s, Golden Football Celebration turned out to be a rip-roaring good time in which we collected stories from people we rarely get to see, re-introduced ourselves to relatives we had hoped to see, and celebrated both a man we all loved and the school that gave him his start.
In conjunction with the Golden Football Celebration, in which the NFL honors the high school of any athlete who played in a Super Bowl, Central Cambria High School also retired my dad’s jersey number.
As I’ve written about before, my dad grew up on 20 Row in Colver, a tiny coal mining town in Western Pennsylvania. He played football for the first time as a high school sophomore and went on to enjoy success at the University of Cincinnati and with the Green Bay Packers. He earned entry into Hall of Fames at all three levels of the game.
“Everyone knows Colver kids are tough as nails,” said Stephen Gironda, CCCHS assistant athletic director and the evening’s MC.
They called my dad Uncas, due to his love for both the outdoors and the Last of the Mohicans.
Seeing the outpouring of love and respect Friday night in the Central Cambria County Gymnasium, Uncas would have been overwhelmed.
The Red Devils provided personalized football jerseys and, by tip-off, our group of Kostelnik-jersey-wearing family members had swelled to include relatives who traveled from North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Erie, New York and, most special of all to us, Colver.
My grandma’s brother Jimmy Melnyk came with his son Jim, whose son Tanner played on the Red Devils basketball team. My dad’s cousin Timmy Kostelnik, also a decorated Red Devil athlete, joined the group as did my dad’s formidable aunt Genevieve Semko and her daughter Janet. Most of my cousins came, and all of my siblings.
Though health troubles kept them from attending in person, my dad’s cousins John Mihalik and Jo Semko helped coordinate the event via social media.
We’ll be grateful for the rest of our lives that we had the opportunity to celebrate my dad in such a special way among the people who knew him first.
11 thoughts on “Thanks to the Red Devils for a golden opportunity”
I have the pleasure of working with your sister Kathy at MFHS. I look forward to your posts everyday. This one brought tears to my eyes, wishing I could have been there too!!! Your pictures were the next best thing! You guys are lucky to have such an awesome family!
Thanks Karla! You made my day!
You made my day too Karla! It was an amazing night. Well done Central Cambria High School.
I loved all the pics and the stories. Your dad and my late husband Dr.Charlie Dungar were such close friends. Brought back many memories for me. Thanks. Jackie
I remember kind Dr. Dungar vividly. Thanks for reading!
We want to thank you and your family for making feel us like part of your family. I hope that I and my daughter, Lisa, (the math teacher at CCMS) represented UNKUS well. We were very pleased that everyone enjoyed the vintage picture of UNKUS and the photo opportunity that it provided. Everyone was so gracious especially your mom!
We were hoping for a Packers/Steelers Super Bowl. We came close….we’ll get them next year! The Steelers didn’t play to win, they played not to lose; however the Green Bay game was a real heartbreaker (thought Aaron Rodgers was going to wave his magic wand one more time)!
Hope to see you guys in the future…in the meantime we will continue to follow your blog & Facebook posts.
Thank God this event wasn’t this past weekend…we got between 16-18 inches of snow…you would have been eating a lot of pierogies in Pittsburgh!
God Bless! GO PACK GO!!!
Beautiful evening and pics. Wanted to let you know, your Grandparents homestead is up for taxes. $2,018. Sad, but I wanted to let you know. You and your family are always welcome here to visit.