Seabury Hall will return to the eight-player ranks of the Maui Interscholastic League this fall, returning to the sport once dominated by the Spartans for the first time since 2018.
The Spartans won the first three MIL crowns in the sport from 2012–14 but were eliminated from the league before the 2019 season, the last time a full season was played in the sport due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seabury Hall fielded a team in fall 2021 that coached and played an intrasquad game at the end of the campaign. When the game starts in August or September, the Spartans will be back in a four-team MIL along with Molokai, Lanai, and Hana.
“It’s truly a blessing to have the opportunity to get the program up and running again,” That’s what first-year coach Nathan St. Cyr said on Wednesday. “All of us, from (Principal) Maureen Madden, down to the teachers on campus, to the parents, there’s something about football in the fall.
“We just don’t just have a passion for football, I think it’s just as important that we have a passion for what football can do for the lives of students and athletes and for the lessons it provides. So we’re really excited to bring the energy that football brings back to campus. Not just for the players, but for the entire campus.”
St. Cyr was a standout high school linebacker at Elk River High School in Minnesota in the 1990s. He has kept his passion for the sport alive since moving to Maui in 1995 after meeting his future wife as a freshman at Pepperdine University.
“To give the student athletes that opportunity to compete – it’s a unique sport that offers unique teaching opportunities.” said St Cyr. “Throughout my high school soccer career, I guess, through youth soccer, I found a lot of mentors and role models. Football gave me that structure and guidance that really, really shaped my life.”
St Cyr; Tom Kellogg, a teacher at the school; veteran Maui youth coach Ed Gilarski; and former Seabury Hall quarterback Jaxson Stinger, the Spartans’ signal caller for three years and 18-0 MIL Player of the Year in 2014, took over as coach in the fall after the COVID hiatus spelled the end of the previous staff.
“‘Friday Night Lights’, our community, our booths would fill up, it was an event,” St. Cyr said about his preparatory career. “That’s why we all strive. I was a pure conference linebacker and I just learned a lot about life – the whole structure and being part of a team, learning leadership, all those things.
“It really impacted my life. As I’ve moved through life, this is one of the things I attribute a lot of my success to.”
He played two seasons for the Kihei Heat of the short-lived Hawaii Football League in the late 1990s, scratching a playing itch he missed after choosing to attend a university that didn’t have the sport.
“When I came to Maui, I probably dream about soccer three to five times a week because I didn’t play soccer in college.” said St Cyr.
The job as head coach at Seabury Hall had been in preparation for St Cyr for a while.
“I’ve signed up a couple of times to volunteer and the program was either in a transition period or whatever, so it hadn’t worked out until this year.” said St Cyr. “My daughter is a freshman at Seabury, she’s in sixth grade, so I came back at the start of the season and said, ‘I’m thrilled with what the game of football can do and I’d love to help in any way that I can.’ “
Seabury Hall Athletic Director Scott Prather invited St. Cyr to the staff and “Within a week of that, the coaching staff decided they would not live with the current COVID guidelines and coaching staff, so Seabury found themselves without a coaching staff.”
Prather assembled the coaching foursome that ended the 2021 season, which was limited to intrasquad action only. There was one game at the end of the season where only two seniors – Noah Reisenauer and Josh Segal – received post-game honors.
“The COVID guidelines have changed pretty quickly over the last year and so we’ve adapted.” said St Cyr. “We didn’t know if we could have contact so we started with about 30 kids and as the season progressed we made progress on the COVID front and were able to contact. We set a year-end scrimmage date within the squad and started teaching the kids the basics of contact football.
“We put together a great plan for the kids and were able to end the year with what seemed like a pretty fun play situation where we could invite all the parents and end the year strong with about 20 boys.”
Now the Spartans should be back in the fall to compete against other teams.
“We’re expecting 25 this fall, I have about 28 on my sign-up sheet.” said St Cyr. “So by the time we get on campus with eighth through ninth grade, that’s going to be the number that gets us where we want to be, which is that 30-row.”
St. Cyr said the game is also important to communities like Hoolehua, Lanai City, Hana and Olinda.
“I just believe that the game of football is unique, which it does not only for the student athlete, but also for the energy that is created in the community around it.” said St Cyr. “So if we look at the community and start with the team and then go outward to the families of the team. And then you move to school and where the school is located it’s really a great opportunity to bring people together.”
* Robert Collias can be reached at [email protected]
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