By Garett Burns
On Saturday, October 12, Conception Seminary College hosted its 7th annual soccer and volleyball tournament, now known as the “Thunder Cup.” Over 225 seminarians from 7 different seminaries traveled to northwest Missouri for a weekend of competition, fraternity, and prayer at Conception Abbey and Seminary College.
The schools who sent teams to compete in the Thunder Cup included, St. Joseph College Seminary (Chicago, Illinois), Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary (Denton, Nebraska), Holy Trinity Seminary (Irving, Texas), Mundelein Seminary (Mundelein, Illinois), St. Gregory the Great Seminary (Seward, Nebraska), St. Meinrad Seminary (St. Meinrad, Indiana), and the host team, Conception Seminary College.
The festivities began Friday night with a social and an opportunity for fellowship. Seminarians and formators from each school came together to share refreshments, humor, and their experiences in seminary formation.
After gathering for Mass on Saturday morning, the teams suited up and took the field for the soccer tournament. Each team played two games on Saturday, after which the two teams with the best records advanced to the championship game. Conception Seminary and Mundelein Seminary each won both of their games for a chance to compete in the championship game on Sunday morning. After ninety minutes of intense play, Conception emerged victorious over Mundelein 2-1 to win the soccer tournament for the third year in a row.
On Saturday evening, all gathered in St. Michael’s Gymnasium to cheer on the volleyball teams. The raucous crowd maintained a high level of energy throughout the fifteen games of the round-robin tournament. One student observed, “Never have I seen or heard the fans and players get so involved in competition, all while maintaining great sportsmanship too.” After the round-robin matches, Conception Seminary and St. Meinrad Seminary each earned a place to play in the best-of-three championship series. St. Meinrad won the first two games of the series to defeat Conception and take home the 2013 volleyball championship trophy.
Father Ralph O’Donnell, the Dean of Students at Conception Seminary College, believes that these inter-seminary sports contests are an easy and enjoyable way to promote growth in key components of human formation. “I often tell the seminarians: all things are formational,” Father O’Donnell said. “Discipline in athletic performance, showing hospitality toward others and support for your team are great ways to live out your faith in a practical way, and will help prepare these men for service in parish life in the future.”
Michael Wilms, a senior from the Diocese of Green Bay, played on both Conception’s soccer and volleyball team, and he commented on the interactions with other seminarians through athletics. He reflected, “There is something about sports that brings together a community, a school, and even rivals. It was a chance to make connections, friendships, and memories that will last a lifetime.”
Garett Burns is a senior at Conception Seminary College studying for the Diocese of Wichita. Photos by Aaron Nguyen of the Diocese of Wichita.