THE WAVE | Winter 2013
John and Mary Banaszak, both of the Class of 1968, understand choices made at Holy Name High School can affect graduates’ lives and careers for years to come.
John, who played football and basketball and ran track at Holy Name, went on to enjoy phenomenal success with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University he was signed by Pittsburgh as a free agent in 1975 and played for the team until 1981, winning three Super Bowl Championships. He later played for the Michigan Panthers in the United States Football League, winning the league championship in 1983. He currently serves as assistant football coach at Robert Morris University.
“At Holy Name, I was a pretty good football player on a really good football team that finished 8-1. I was a tall, skinny kid coming out of Holy Name at 17 years old, and the school definitely affected my career. We were always the underdogs — the Little Davids against Goliath. I remember a lot of games against teams that were much bigger, faster and stronger than we were, but we found a way to win, and that’s how my entire career was.” In 1976 John was inducted into the Holy Name Hall of Fame with a Special Recognition Award, given to individuals “who have impacted Holy Name in some positive way or have achieved outstanding success in their fields.”
Mary Banaszak, formerly Redig, also discovered her career, nursing, through Holy Name. A member of the National Honor Society she joined Future Nurses of America to participate in an extracurricular but soon found she had a passion for the field. She attended the now-closed St. Alexis Hospital School of Nursing and still maintains an active license. Today she is the CEO of Greenbriar Treatment Center, a drug and alcohol treatment system that she’s helped grow from one site to a network of 11 facilities.
“I knew from my sophomore year at Holy Name that I wanted to be a nurse,” Mary says. “I felt well-prepared for the field. I took classes geared toward science and Latin, which was a requirement for nursing school. My exposure at Holy Name definitely grew my interest in nursing.”
The Banaszaks’ choice to attend a Sadie Hawkins dance together also changed their lives. Mary asked John to the dance, and although it was cancelled, the couple went on a date anyway. They have now been married for 42 years.
John and Mary come from a family of Namers; Mary’s father and two brothers attended the school, as well as John’s sister. They also made many friends at Holy Name and still keep in touch with several of them.
“I do believe lifelong relationships are more indicative of a Catholic school than a public school,” Mary says. “We met several people we’ve kept in touch with. Two summers ago, we rented a place near Cedar Point, and I had two good friends from Holy Name come spend the day with me. It was so much fun. They brought pictures and we talked about our time at the school. I can’t put a price on it; those were some of the best years of my life.”
John, too, created lifelong relationships. He joined the Marine Corps after graduation with a friend from Holy Name, and many Namers came to watch him play in the NFL. Through his recruiting activities as a coach, he’s also gotten to visit a lot of past Holy Name connections aa area high schools.
“I go to St. Ignatius and run into the coach there, Chuck Kyle, who played against us at Holy Name,” he says,. “And the trainer, Henry Gaughan, used to tape my ankles. I talk to a lot of coaches in the Cleveland area who remember me and my days at Holy Name. It’s great to run into them and be welcomed to meet their student athletes.
This article was published in HN’s – The Wave Winter 2013 Alumni Magazine.
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