Post Friday Night Lights: Jesuit’s 5th quarter MVP’s

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Jack Taylor_SeriousDSC_0092by Jack Taylor ’15 and Andy Bryan ’15

When Friday’s games are over, the football team returns to the locker room while fans and spectators alike depart to whatever activity is next, leaving Cronin field vacant of people but scattered with trash. Known by few is that the crew who stays after the game consists of only three people: Rick Howington, Mike Hughes, and Luciano Vega. These three dedicated men spend the night making sure that the stadium is left exactly how it started.

Head of janitorial duties is Mr. Luciano Vera, more commonly known as “Luci”.

Since 2010, Luci has been single-handedly cleaning up the debris left behind at games.

“He’s the man who keeps the stadium clean year-round,” said groundskeeper Jeff Wood. “He’s a hard worker who works long hours. Admirable work.”

Not only does Luci clean up the leftover wreckage by himself, he also takes time to sort through the trash, separating garbage and recyclable materials, even though this is not a requirement.

“I do it because I care,” said Luci through translator Julian Veras. “Our goal is to be a green school.”

On average, about 40 large-sized garbage bags are filled in a night’s work, year round.

After games, students leave an assortment of items and leave the stadium filled with trash. Due to this behavior, Luciano finds himself working countless hours to return Cronin to its original state. On top of this, on some occasions Friday night’s football games are followed by Catholic Youth Organization, or CYO, games as well. Luci often arrives at 10:00 p.m. Friday and works until dawn Saturday morning.

Dedication is part of his mission of making Jesuit a clean campus. Aside from athletic events, Luci arrives at Jesuit every day at 12:30pm.

“I start the cleaning process by hand, and then I clean trash cans around the field,” Luci said about his standard routine. “I usually clean by myself, but sometimes I bring my son Brian”.

Brian often accompanies his dad to clean after the games and is respected as an employee.

“He likes working with me, we both work hard,” said Luci. “I clean and work hard because I am grateful to have a job.”

Luci wants students to know that after games it is important that fans exit the stadium fairly quickly and not loiter because Luci can not begin his work until the stadium is clear.

With all of the work that Vera puts in, janitorial duties are only one side of Jesuit’s trifecta.

On another side of the equation are Rick and Laurie Howington, husband and wife duo who have been in charge of Jesuit’s security for years.

Each morning, Laurie can be found greeting students as they arrive. Rick, on the other hand, usually shows up around 1 p.m. and works well into the night.

On game nights, Rick stays around Cronin for all of the matches played that day. His main focus is keeping the campus a safe environment, so to ensure this, another security guard or two will man the stadium as well.

Not only does Rick focus on the security side of things, he also manages the ticket booth during the first half as well, seeing everyone who walks through the gate to ensure the safety of fans.

“Making the campus a safe place is the number one goal,” Rick said. “After that it’s about having a good experience at the game, no matter if you are from Jesuit or not.”

Once things settle down and the game has ended, Rick stays put and makes sure that closing duties are taken care of. Luciano is in charge of turning off the stadium lights and locking up, but Rick stays around to make sure that everything is going according to plan.

What separates Rick from the many other people who hold similar jobs as him is his compassion and genuine care for each person he meets.

“I know that I can go and talk to him whatevers on my mind and he’ll listen,” said Senior Wyatt Nelson, ’15. “Whether it’s about just bombing a test or complaining about a JUG, I know he’ll listen and care.”

To finally round out Jesuit’s team is Mike Hughes, famous among Jesuit students as the Athletics Director, but his duties as AD take him far outside the walls of his cozy office. Mr. Hughes is responsible for the smooth operation that is required for a Jesuit football game to be possible. However, Mr. Hughes is also responsible for dealing with parts of the mess left over from that night’s game, a job he is more than happy to do, and always includes a genuine smile.

Many unidentified responsibilities fall under the title of Athletic Director, and Mr. Hughes is one of few great men that is willing to take on any challenge with open arms.

As the lights die down after a long Friday night of hard work, Rick, Luci, and Mr. Hughes go home to their wonderful families. They know very well what awaits them in the upcoming Friday and the Friday following that. However, they continue to do their job with an optimistic smile rooting from the joy they get from serving the Jesuit community they love.