We hear it all the time, the Brotherhood at Saint Louis. The proud Crusader football alumni are seemingly everywhere. But what does it really mean to be part of the Brotherhood?
“When you come Saint Louis and you’ve been to Saint Louis it’s very family like,” said Stanley McKenzie, Saint Louis senior defensive linaman.” Like, ohana. Everybody’s parents, that’s like my parents. Or your auntie and uncles that’s my auntie and uncles.”
Cal commit McKenzie is an imposing D tackle – fitting the mold of big guys from Saint Louis playing college football.
And then there’s Koali Nishigaya. The impossible-to-tackle slot receiver who, at just 5’6 is having one of the best pass-catching seasons in the state.
“I’m glad with it but I know I can do better and help the team with whatever they need to do imma just do it,” said Nishigaya.
The Crusaders are stacked with senior talent. Five of the top six ranked Hawaii players in the class of 2020 play for Saint Louis. And with that comes a lot of fans.
The school is for boys grades K through 12th. Imagine walking the same campus as your childhood heroes.
One Saturday morning, this fall Crusader players in the senior class met with kids in the younger grades, signing autographs and interacting smaller members of the brotherhood.
“These kids, they look up to us, and we have to be a leader for them,” said senior wide receiver and Michigan commit Roman Wilson. “Seeing how much we mean to them, it makes a big impact on all of us and it’s a great moment in my life.”
An objectively not great moment for a Saint Louis grad was last weekend when Tua Tagovailoa badly injured his hip, ending his season and maybe his legendary college career.
“It was devastating,” said Nishigaya. “You never want to see one of our brothers get hurt like that. But I know God got him and God had a plan for him.”
Tua wears his faith on his sleeve with crosses on his cheeks. He articulated that relationship in 2016 when he won the Cover2 Marcus Mariota player of year award.
“I feel it helps me as a person,” Tagovailoa said in 2016. “Not more so with God doing this for me. But more so asking God for help.”
Tua’s positive outlook permeates his entire team.
“I feel bad. I’m hurting,” said Alabama head coach Nick Saban as he met with the media this week. “I call him last night because I’ve been sitting in that room for ten hours yesterday watching film. I call him to cheer him up. He cheers me up.”
“That’s the kind of man he is,” said Saint Louis junior safety Harvey Welch. “He’s not the kind of guy to get down on himself. He picks himself and others up in bad times like that.”
The Welch’s are a Saint Louis family. Harvey’s dad Gerald is an assistant coach, assistant athletic director, and second grade teacher. He had his class sent Tua letters.
“Something to read while he was in the hospital and think about,” said Gerald. “I think my students got some good thoughts in there so hopefully he’s encouraged.”
From second grade to one of the most famous people in sports. That’s the brotherhood.