When Gilman and Calvert Hall kick off in Saturday’s MIAA A Conference football championship, they will play for more than the title and the No. 1 ranking. They will play for The Mike Whittles Trophy.
The trophy was created to honor the late Archbishop Spalding football coach who mounted a courageous 16-month battle with Stage Four pancreatic cancer before his death in June. Whittles put the Cavaliers on the football map, taking them to the A Conference semifinals last season in their first year after moving up from the B Conference, where they won four of the previous six titles.
In his last football season, coaching while fighting the disease and the effects of chemotherapy, Whittles inspired many beyond Spalding and the MIAA football community. He was always upbeat and as he always had, enjoyed inspirational sayings. One of his favorites, “Make every day count,” became the slogan for the Cavaliers’ 2011 season.
“That was a no brainer really,” MIAA executive director Rick Diggs said of naming the trophy for Whittles.
“Mike Whittles just meant a whole lot to this organization. I’ll never forget him,” Diggs said, “and nobody will ever forget him now that we have this trophy. I was a close friend of his. I knew him from business and I knew what type of man he was. I’ve met a lot of good people, but he’s right at the top.”
The trophy, a two-tiered wooden base with a gold-tone football on the top, features a photo of Whittles and the names of all past A Conference champions dating back to the first year of the league in 1995. The winner of Saturday’s 7 p.m. championship game at Johnny Unitas Stadium at Towson University will take it home for a year and then it will pass to each successive winner.
“I’m humbled to be one of the teams participating in a game where the winner would be awarded a trophy in his name,” Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis said. “He was just an outstanding man. He was a great, great mentor and friend to me. My heart still goes out to his family as they carry on his legacy. I’ve always been a fan of Mike’s and a fan of Spalding, so to have his name on the trophy is fitting for a man who loved the league, who loved kids and who loved to compete.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun