ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Senior Meg Barger says the mood at practice was different going into this season for the John F. Kennedy Catholic High School softball team. They knew it would be the last, ever, becuase their school was closing at the end of the year.
Kennedy’s fate was determined just about a month before Barger’s senior year began. But, over the past several years, it had been struggling with enrollment. This year the enrollment is 191 students with a freshman class of 33.
“The news that the school is closing has really brought us together,” Barger says. “And has really driven us to work hard this season because we kind of need to go out with a bang.”
Celts Athletic Director and softball coach Troy Ufert said the pressure was also on for the softball team to make a statement in the school’s final year. Especially after he has won five district titles and made two state quarterfinal appearances in the last seven years.
“Just because of the winning we’ve done over the past few years we’ve probably been the most successful group in the school,” Ufert says. “So there’s that added pressure to it, to finish on top the last year.”
The Celts won its district to reach sectionals for the third straight year, in 2016. But lost to Bowling Green High School on October 12, bringing an end to Ufert’s decade of coaching at Kennedy.
“High school sports are high school sports,” Ufert says. “Every year you lose a big group of them, but this year we lose all of them.”
Although seniors like Barger, Alison Mines and Gabrielle Scheberle have their plans set to head to different colleges next year. Underclassmen like Allison Seiler will have to choose another high school to attend next year.
“It’s stressful. I constantly feel like I’m an eighth grader again. But I have some good ideas and I hope it will all just work out for the best.”
Since the first day the news broke, the Kennedy students have described mixed emotions. But they weren’t all negative.
Scheberle explained how there was also an outpouring that day of tweets and Instagram posts with the hashtag ‘CeltPride.
“Even though you may not know (other alumni) very well you still have that bond with them. It’s kind of like ‘we had a similar experience with this like amazing place and it’s something that we can share.’ It’s really cool.”
And Scheberle says she expects to see plenty of fellow alumni wearing Celt shirts, pants and jackets around the area.
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