The Stanley Cup visits Leo

As 90-year celebrations go, this was quite the kickoff … or puck drop.

On Sept. 15, 2015, the Stanley Cup came to Leo High School. We are celebrating our 90th anniversary at Leo this year, having opened our doors at 7901 S. Sangamon in 1926. We have a year-long series of events scheduled to commemorate the occasion, but the first of these functions will be hard to top.

The Stanley Cup, awarded to the National Hockey League champion, is perhaps the most iconic trophy in sports. The Chicago Blackhawks won it for the third time in six years back in June, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in six hard-fought games. Three months earlier, in March, Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough had visited Leo and gave a terrific presentation to the students about the Blackhawks’ history and the evolution of his own career as a sports executive. The kids were enthralled.

After the Hawks’ victory in the Stanley Cup finals, Leo sent Mr. McDonough a letter congratulating him on the team’s success and thanking him for his interest in our school. He responded with an offer to bring the Cup to Leo. We were honored to accept. September 15 was chosen as the date for the visit. Students from four neighboring grammar schools joined Leo students, parents, alums, friends and supporters of our school in a jam-packed auditorium as Mr. McDonough and the Blackhawks party arrived at 1 p.m.

Shortly after they were introduced and seated, All-Star defenseman Brent Seabrook made a surprise entrance though the rear door of the auditorium, wending his way through the festive crowd with the Cup aloft as “Chelsea Dagger,” the bouncy tune that greets each Blackhawks goal, played over the sound system. Cell-phone cameras seemed to be everywhere as Mr. Seabrook moved to the front of the room and placed the Cup on a stand, much to the crowd’s delight. Everyone in attendance had an opportunity to have a picture taken with the Cup, and each member of the Hawks party signed autographs and posed for pictures during a one-hour meet-and-greet in the school cafeteria. Leo seniors Kentrell Drummond and Terrence Lee presented Mr. McDonough with a personalized Leo football jersey, “McDonough” emblazoned across the back.

“Every time I walk through the doors at Leo,” Mr. McDonough said in his remarks to the audience, ”I feel like I’m in a special place.”

We couldn’t agree more. And we thank Mr. McDonough and the Blackhawks for creating a truly special day at Leo.