December 16th, 2010
Providence Athletics Is Strong On Pride
Current AD Golembeski discusses Pioneer past, present, future
One visit to the athletics section of the Providence High School website, and you instantly understand that it’s more than a game to the Pioneer athletes.
“Given our enrollment, and the fact that we consistently stand toe-to-toe with much larger schools from all over the area, it is truly amazing – and sometimes life-changing – to learn the meaning of Blue Pride by earning a Providence jersey.”
These are the words listed before any mention of rosters, schedules, results, or photos. Spend a few minutes with Providence Athletic Director Mickey Golembeski, and you understand the roots of that pride.
“When I think Providence athletics, the first thing that comes to mind is family, faith, and Blue Pride,” said Golembeski. “Every program’s parents and supporters work very hard together with our coaches to provide this kind of (family) atmosphere for the kids and the parents. The camaraderie is absolutely amazing.”
So how can a school that has never won a state championship, in any sport, have such a deep sense of pride?
“We are young when you get right down to it, as we’ve only been in existence since 1951,” said Golembeski. “With that said, Providence Blue Pride runs as deep as any still waters here in Indiana. Our position and presence in the community is felt by all. This is evident whenever you see any of our teams compete against the surrounding southern Indiana schools.
“It’s hard to compare with the New Albany’s and (Jeffersonvilles), with their such long standing histories,” Golembeski continued. “But our traditions are enhanced by the addition of our deanery schools history, which is every bit as long as the other schools, meaning no disrespect to our friends here in southern Indiana.”
Golemebeski, who has been the AD since 2004, says that he tries to instill in his student-athletes that “the joy is in the journey” by encouraging them to embrace their high school experience. He has seen his share of students pass through that system during his time a Providence, which is the aspect of his job he says he thoroughly enjoys the most.
“The most rewarding part of working with the athletic program here at Providence is the kids,” said Golembeski. “Seeing them learn and grow in their process of being an athlete and a Catholic Christian, when they get it, the lights go off in their eyes and they say, ‘yes, I see it and understand it now.’ Nothing compares to that.”
As mentioned, the Pioneers have not captured a state championship in its 59-year history, but there have been plenty of successful teams that have left a mark in the history books in Clarksville, IN. Golembeski mentioned two in particular whose story sticks out in his mind.
“The girls softball team in the spring of 2005 won everything but a state final that year,” said Golembeski. “This was a group of girls that played softball over the years with mediocre results, but pulled off a superb 23-5 season on their way to the state championship. Although they lost in the finals, they managed to win the sports’ first Sectional and Regional Titles in school history in Softball. They did so in sending off their 10th year Head Coach, Allen Donner, in style and as a winner and owner of the best team in Providence Softball history.”
The other team Golembeski mentioned was the boys basketball team from 2004-05 – a squad that was not allowed to participate in the state tournament due to rules violations from the year before – had a large chunk of the team transfer out of Providence. The team didn’t fold though, and instead turned a negative into a big positive.
“The group of boys that decided to stay, as well as others who decided to come out and play, brought this team to a No. 1 AP ranking in the state in Class 2A, tied the school record for victories, had the best record in the state of Indiana for 2A schools and finished with a historical 19-1 season,” said Golembeski. “These boys played with the heart and soul of a true winner, with nothing to gain, but to play the game and do themselves proud, which they did quite well.”
In terms of prominent individual athletes who have graced the halls of Providence, there is an impressive list of alums who stand out above the crowd. Including Indiana Athletic Hall of Famers Charlie Jenkins (sports broadcaster; class of ’57), Mary Chris Rodden (tennis; ’77), John MacLeod (basketball; ’55), Gene Sartini (current football head coach of 41 years), and John Buerger (former baseball coach), here are some of the most well-known athletic alumni in Providence history.
- Pat Harris, a 1973 grad, who played football from 1969-1973. He was a running back and defensive back for PHS and the only player to ever receive All-State honors for both offense and defense, at a time when only one team for each was chosen. He went on to Purdue University on an athletic scholarship and played defensive back for them for four years, and was their kick returner from 1973-76.
- Justin Benedetti, who played basketball for PHS from 2003-04 and 2006-07. Benedetti earned All-State honors and was also a McDonalds All-American his senior year. He is in his senior season at Bellermine University playing out his final year of his a four-year athletic scholarship.
- Ray Blunk, a 1964 graduate of PHS, played four sports at Providence: football, basketball, baseball, & track. He went to Xavier University on a football scholarship as a tight end. After four years there, he graduated in 1968 and was drafted by the Miami Dolphins where he played four seasons as a TE in the NFL. He then went to the Canadian Football League in 1972 and played three more seasons of professional football and retired in 1975. He still holds the all-time points scored in a basketball game at Providence: 50 points.
- Jeanne Luther, a 1982 PHS grad, was a track and volleyball star. She went to Notre Dame on a full track Scholarship where she competed in the shot put, discus and javelin. When she graduated from ND in 1986, she left holding the all-time records for shot, discus & javelin. She is currently the Providence Head Girls Track Coach, giving many hours of time and talent to PHS and taking a number of the Pioneer field event athletes to the IHSAA state finals, many of whom have placed in the top five.
- Terri Perichia (Blunk) was a 1990 grad of PHS where she played volleyball, basketball, and softball. As a Providence volleyball player, Perichia was a starter on four sectional teams and two state finalist Teams. She earned a four-year scholarship to Xavier University – the same school her father attended, where she also excelled. She returned to Providence and has been the head volleyball coach for the past 13 seasons.
- Dottie Zip (Galligan), a 1969 PHS Grad, went to the University of Louisville from 1969-73. In high school, there were no girls sports at Providence, so she played CYO basketball and spring and summer softball. At UofL, she played women’s basketball and field hockey where she excelled. She was inducted into the UofL Hall of Fame for field hockey in 1999. She later started the girls basketball and softball programs at Providence and coached track as well. She was inducted into the Indiana Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2001. and is still a Physical Education teacher at Providence.
Today’s stable of teams and players is led by what Golembeski calls a “very diverse group of coaches.”
“We have young, single coaches in their 20’s, through senior citizen grandfathers on our coaching staffs,” said Golembeski. “Only four of our head coaches are on staff and we have five assistant coaches on staff. It’s a very fine group of coaches that we are very proud of having lead our young men and women in athletics.”
One of the many characteristics that Golembeski is most proud of regarding his coaches is the time and energy they spend on teaching their players how to be good people on and off the playing surface.
“Not only is prayer an important part of our team’s routines, but teaching them how to give of themselves in other ways (is equally important),” said Golembeski. “I’m talking about working soup kitchens, collecting for charities, cleaning up the environment, working kids camps, helping the feeder school programs as assistants and running their tournaments, team retreats, pitch in dinners, the things that give them no monetary value in return.”
As Providence continues to grow, Golembeski says his teams are happy with their current class and look forward to building new facilities (turf football stadium, collegiate style track with new bleachers, and tennis courts, just to name a few) that would give the Pioneers an edge when it comes to competing with area schools.
Said Golembeski: “(Our growth) cannot happen without our faith family in the area. We are the only Catholic high school program in this part of Southern Indiana, and I strongly feel that we owe it to our Catholic family, to create the finest athletic facilities and program that they deserve. Our education model rivals anyone’s, and is a leader in some cases. I want the same for athletics.”