The relationship between Pitt football coaches and St. Anthony School dates to the 1970s and '80s, when Johnny Majors and Jackie Sherrill invited students to practice.
Paul Chryst went a step further: He came to the students.
Chryst was keynote speaker Thursday at the Spirit of St. Anthony breakfast at Omni William Penn Hotel, Downtown.
His message in a 10-minute speech to about 150 St. Anthony supporters likened the school's mission to what he is trying to build at Pitt.
“Football is the vehicle that we get to use (at Pitt), but it's all about helping people grow,” he said. “Growing as a student, growing as an athlete, growing as a person. Football isn't life or death, but it is important because of a group of people trying to do something.”
St. Anthony, founded in 1920 as an orphanage in Oakmont, serves developmentally impaired students ages 5-21. It has branches in White Oak, Glenshaw, Bethel Park, Munhall, Crafton and McKeesport and at Duquesne University.
Chryst said meeting young St. Anthony students Sammie Schulz and Charlie Osborn at the breakfast was similar to when recruits visit campus and he gets to put a name with a face.
“Thanks for making St. Anthony real to me,” he told the students.
Chryst did not speak specifically about his football team, which opens training camp in early August. But when asked about choosing a starting quarterback, he smiled and said he didn't want to say anything in front of a reporter seated at his table.
He did promise, however, “We'll have one.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
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