Championship rings delivered to Cardinal Gibbons football players after march to Carter-Finley Stadium
Raleigh, North Carolina – When Cardinal Gibbons’ football team last drove through Edwards Mill Road to Carter-Finley Stadium, the Crusaders were preparing to play their third consecutive state championship game – but they were seeking their first-ever championship title. ‘State.
On Friday afternoon, when members of the Cardinal Gibbons football team made the same walk, they were on their way to collect their rewards for victory – the state championship rings.
“It’s incredibly special. We obviously understand that we’re sort of uniquely geographically positioned, it’s not something that’s the norm. We thought that would be a cool thing. We recreated the boardwalk, so we all came back here and they got to look down on the field where they won the state championship game in December,” head coach Steven Wright said.
On Friday afternoon, Cardinal Gibbons football players and coaches drove to the Vaughan Towers at Carter-Finley Stadium, took the elevator upstairs, and found dozens of boxes waiting. Inside were the rings they had worked so hard to earn. They were rings that no one on the team had seen before.
“For the past three months, they’ve been asking me at least three or four times a week, ‘Coach, can I see a picture of the ring? Can I see a picture of the ring?’ and each time it was “No. We’re going to see them all at once,'” Wright said.
Even Wright himself hadn’t seen a real ring until Friday. He had seen digital renderings of what the rings would look like, but he had not seen a physical ring.
Once the boxes were distributed, each player and coach opened them at the same time.
“It was really special to see them all opening them at once and you could clearly hear the joy in their voices as they opened their boxes,” Wright said.
Friday was filled with symbolism for Cardinal Gibbons. Not only did they step on Carter-Finley Stadium, but the rings themselves have many symbols.
“This was our first time designing a football state championship ring, and my first time in a state championship type event where we won and had the opportunity to make a ring, so it there were some things we wanted to incorporate into that,” Wright said. “It really turned out even better than I expected.”
On one side of the ring, the players’ last names are displayed on a drawing of Carter-Finley Stadium, where the Crusaders won the title. There are 25 raindrops falling on the stadium, which symbolizes the weather on the night of the state championship, but also represents the 25 seniors on the team.
“I told the guys it was the blessing of the time we endured – obviously a reminder of that – but also God’s blessing that we’ve been able to enjoy throughout this season,” Wright said.
Across the ring is ‘Gibbons Football’ with ‘4A State Champions’ and last season’s team motto, ‘team over self’. It is surrounded by a chain link that includes 14 links, one for each win. It also includes the 14-2 final score of the state championship game.
The top of the ring features the Cardinal Gibbons shield and a green stone between two yellow stones. The green stone represents the state championship win, the two yellow stones represent the two state runners-up.
Throughout the ring are dozens and dozens of individual stones – one for every win in the program’s history since football was restored to Cardinal Gibbons in 1992.
“It’s really a tip of the hat to those who came before us and endured some really tough years,” Wright said. “There weren’t a lot of wins, but there was a ton of persistence and a lot of support from our community to really lay the groundwork that we were able to build on.”
Cardinal Gibbons finished the season with a 14-2 record from the field, but after Myers Park was forced to give up last season’s wins, the Crusaders finished 15-1. The only loss was the season opener to Chambers, which Cardinal Gibbons avenged in the state championship game.