St. Elizabeth Football | Sack Muscle Disease

Vikings Sack Muscle Disease for Second Consecutive Season

ST. ELIZABETH VIKINGS CONTINUE TO DEDICATE THEIR GAME TO THE MUSCLE MOVEMENT FOUNDATION'S MUSCLE CHAMPIONS

WILMINGTON, DE - Team unity is a trademark quality of the maroon and gold Saint Elizabeth Vikings. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, unity is "a condition of harmony; the quality or state of being made one; a continuity without deviation or change." The Vikings' unity is exceptionally noticeable to the public eye, but their commendable characteristic runs deeper than the colors they proudly wear on their back. In fact, the Vikings Football Team has united the school, leading a special community service learning project each fall. The project is operated by Offensive Coordinator, Joe Wright, and passed to the student-athletes on the football team. The Viking football players take the cause into school and inspire their fellow classmates to join their cause, which they impressively accomplished last year. The assistance from Athletic Director, Joe Papili, and Head Coach, Joe Aviola, has helped the players successfully unite the students of Saint Elizabeth High School during the 2015-2016 school year, and the team plans to set a new goal for the end of this year!

The student-athletes of the Saint Elizabeth Football Team have continued to display a special bond that unifies them with class and character. The way the team has carried themselves is to no surprise, considering their coaches. Lead by an accredited coaching staff in Mr. Joe Papili (Athletic Director), Joe Aviola (Head Coach), Joe Wright (Offensive Coordinator), Mark Vankerhoven, Jim Petruccelli, James Ashton, Matt Janicki, John Hendrick, and Tim Butler, the team is mentored by individuals who have excelled in the game of football and have established themselves as strong role models in society. The coaches emphasize team unity and character as the team competes week to week. Offensive Coordinator, Joe Wright, gathered the team after a hot summer practice this past summer.

"Gentlemen, we will continue to win each day. Our goal is to win each day this year, week to week. We will unite, and continue to portray excellence and integrity, as we represent as Saint Elizabeth Vikings. We will unite together, and push each other to get better on and off this football field this season."
Offensive Coordinator, Joe Wright, speaking to the team during a summer practice.

Offensive Coordinator, Joe Wright, speaking to the team during a summer practice.

Uniting to win, on and off the football field, is exactly what the Vikings have planned for themselves, and for the school, this fall. The team has joined the Muscle Movement Foundation for the second consecutive year; playing with a purpose to "Sack Muscle Disease". Last season the team started their community service learning project by welcoming several "Muscle Champions" at their home field at Baynard Stadium. "Muscle Champions" are individuals affected by muscle debilitating disease, yet define the odds in living with their disease and live life to the fullest. The football team welcomed their "Muscle Champions" at every home game, where they honored their fight against muscle disease. The captains of the team proudly walked, and pushed their "Muscle Champions" to the center of the field for the coin toss. Notably, when the clock hit 0:00 in the fourth quarter of each game, the Vikings' would embrace their "Muscle Champion", dedicating their game to his/her fight. Week to week the Vikings' would send a special message to their Muscle Champions, as they increased the school's involvement. By the end of the school year, the players inspired the cheerleaders, Vikings' community, and students to raise awareness for their Muscle Champions by wearing custom Saint Elizabeth "Sack Muscle Disease" shirts. Additionally, the team increased the school's involvement by inspiring a Viking Fundraiser during Spirit Week. Thanks to the 2015-2016 team, the Muscle Movement Foundation provided essential accommodations to their Muscle Champions, which helped them maintain physical autonomy, financial stability, and gain emotional support!

"I am so proud to be the Muscle Movement Foundation Player of the Week. I want all Muscle Champions to know we (Vikings) will keep fighting, so you keep fighting too."
-Viking Running Back, Christopher Cropper

This 2016-2017 school year, the Vikings are pleased to welcome two Muscle Champions to their team. Muscle Champions, Mike Smith and Max French, will join the Vikings all season long. The team plans to honor Mike Smith as their honorary coach, and Max French, as their honorary captain!

Michael Smith is currently a 20 year old student at Wilmington University. After juggling the decision to major in sports management or video game design, he has settled into classes in his degree program for video design. Michael has a strong passion for athletics, more specifically football. His favorite NFL Team is the Dallas Cowboys, which he has no problem representing in the prominent Philadelphia Eagles territory of Wilmington, DE! Although he loves the game, he unfortunately has never been able to compete. Michael did not begin to walk until 22 months old. His parents considered Michael to simply be a "late- walker" but their suspicion increased after Michael displayed additional symptoms.

In May of 2001, at just 5 years old, Michael was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is one of nine forms of muscular dystrophy categorized as a genetic disease that causes muscle degeneration and weakness throughout the body. It is 100% fatal. Just six years after being diagnosed, Michael experienced the debilitating effects of muscular dystrophy and lost his ability to walk. At just 11 years old Michael successfully completed the transfer to a power wheelchair, in order to maintain physical autonomy. Resilient, Michael is not defined by his disease and lives life just as "normal" as any other 20 year old. He wanted to take initiative in helping others overcome the difficulties in living with muscle damaging disease, and inspire others along the way. His motto:

"There is no dis- in my ability!"

-DMD Muscle Champion, Michael Smith

(left to right): Athletic Director Joe Papili, Muscle Champion Mike Smith, and Offensive Coordinator Joe Wright after a win against Saint Mark's High School last season.

(left to right): Athletic Director Joe Papili, Muscle Champion Mike Smith, and Offensive Coordinator Joe Wright after a win against Saint Mark's High School last season.

Max French recently turned 11 years old! Growing up, he was a typical kid. He was in scouts and played baseball, but his family noticed he tired quickly and experienced trouble in the heat. Additionally, Max began to show difficulty with strength and coordination in his hands. Two years ago, in the third grade, Max had a teacher who informed his family that Max would not be able to do middle school, high school, or college work, nor work at a job. Max is a very smart child and was placed in a gifted reading group that same fall. Hearing that statement from his teacher confused and worried his family. The same teacher showed his family Max's writing samples and they noticed that his penmanship and ability to write for longer periods of time, had severely diminished.

"My heart dropped when I saw how his writing had changed from the previous year."
-Maggie French, Max's mother

The family immediately told the teacher they felt the need to see a doctor. Max was immediately scheduled for a neurological evaluation. A few weeks later, the family pulled Max out of school to homeschool him. He began learning at home, while the family waited three long months to see the neurologist. Nonetheless, Max flourished at homeschool! He was able to work on his own without distractions. He completed his work in the mornings and used the afternoons for therapy, doctor appointments, field trips, and library trips. After nine months of testing, including a muscle biopsy, two MRI's, and an EMG, it was determined that Max had Congenital Fiber Disproportion Myopathy.  His muscles began to turn to fat. Two genetic tests, and eight months later, (just this past summer) the family discovered that Max has RYR1 Myopathy. Reportedly, this disease causes exercise intolerance, heat intolerance, progressive muscle weakness, hip contractures, and mild to severe lung problems.  

Despite, these difficulties, Max has attended summer camp, went to a dance with a date, rode in a Harley side car, and continues to travel and advocate for his fellow Muscle Champions. He and family are looking forward to meeting the Vikings' community tomorrow, 9/23/2016, at the football team's home game against the Conrad School of Science. Please feel free to stop at the Muscle Movement Foundation booth, located under the scoreboard at Baynard Stadium, to meet Max and family!

This season marks the second year the Saint Elizabeth High School Football Team has joined the MMF's fight against muscle disease. Another memorable year is underway! During this time, the Muscle Movement Foundation would like to announce a warm welcome to Offensive Coordinator, Joe Wright, who increased his involvement with the MMF this season. Joe Wright is now an official MMF - Team Muscle Up Advocate! Here are some of Joe Wright's commendable statistics and inspiration in joining the Muscle Movement Foundation!


1.) Head Coach - One Hundred Percent Football – Wilmington, DE (www.ohpathletics.com):

-Founder.
-Private training for offensive skill positions.
-Private speed/agility/strength training.
-Football Camps for 3rd-8th graders.
-Started in 2010.

2.) Coaching Experience:

St. Elizabeth’s High School – Wilmington, DE
-Offensive Coordinator / QB Coach (2014 - Present).

Avon Grove High School – West Grove, PA:
-Offensive Coordinator / QB Coach (2012-2013).

West Chester University - West Chester, PA:
-Volunteer Quarterbacks Coach (Spring Camp 2009 and Fall Camp 2010).

3.) Playing Experience:

St. Mark’s High School:
-Gatorade Player of the Year 2003.
-Offensive Player of the Year 2003.
-Michael DeLucia Sportsmanship Award 2003.
-2x All-State QB (2002, 2003).

West Chester University:
-Team Captain 2009.
-Offensive Player of the Year 2009.
-2x All-Conference (2008,2009).
-Harlon Hill Trophy Watch List.

Joe Wright is extended family to MMF Founder/CEO, Rob DeMasi! Joe and Rob grew up playing for the same grade school and high school team. Joe, several years older than Rob, was a role model for Rob growing up. Since Joe continued his career at West Chester University, Rob was highly interested in attending school and playing football for the Golden Rams. Just a sophomore in high school, the running back coach visited Rob in school to discuss the benefits of attending WCU. Unfortunately, the thought of playing for the Golden Rams remained as such. Two years later Rob was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis (MG) and interest from colleges vanished. Joe Wright has supported Rob at a young age in all his endeavors, and it was important for him to support Rob in his new position - the Founder of the Muscle Movement Foundation! Thank you Mr. Wright for taking a stand for the over one million fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters who are unwillingly robbed of their ability to move.

"We, as a staff, try to instill discipline and hard work into these young men, which they are going to need not only in football, but in life. We challenge them to become better student athletes and young men, hoping to set the foundation they are going to need in their future endeavors. They have embraced the Muscle Movement Foundation and its values to help others achieve their potential and reach their goals, which many of us take for granted."  -Coach Joe Wright
"Having a cause to dedicate the season to, instills values within these young student athletes that what we come together for is bigger than football. I could not think of a better cause for our athletes to embrace, than one relatable as the Muscle Movement Foundation." -Coach Mark Vankerhoven
 

If you would like to join the Vikings' efforts in proving accommodations for their "Muscle Champions" please feel free to email Themmo2012@gmail.com or contact Mr. Joe Papili.