St. Nick's Outlaws
By Jim Colombo
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Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo
It was Monday morning, two days before Valentine’s Day, and the last day to be
inspired. Jim needed binder paper, so went to the bookstore downstairs. When Brother
Michael finished filling the shelves, Jim asked if Brother Michael could help him write a
love sonnet. "Just write what is in your heart. Use simple words, and tell how you really
feel." Here’s your change.”
Jim went to first period Algebra class, and began writing his feelings rather than
factoring differential equations He wrote how he felt before he knew Lupe, and how he felt
now. He listed the new experiences he had discovered with Lupe. Brother Philip was
discussing an equation on the blackboard. Prescott asked to copy Jim’s homework.
Griffen and Maddox were shooting rubber bands at each other, Rico was reading Car and
Driver magazine, and a Playboy magazine was being passed around the back of the room.
There was a centerfold of Ursula Andress, the babe in a movie about an English secret
agent named James Bond. Brother Philip sensed that he was lecturing to abandoned
minds. He stopped writing on the blackboard, quickly spun around, put his hand to his ear,
and said, "What was that Rico, you want a pop quiz? Okay. You heard the man, he thinks
we should have a pop quiz."
Rico looked confused. The guys in the back hid the magazine. Anytime Brother
Philip thought that the lads were not appreciating his efforts teaching Algebra, he called
a pop quiz. The lads averaged two a week. The next ten minutes were spent factoring
differential equations. Then homework was assigned, and class ended at nine. The
students handed in the quiz as they left class.
Word had spread fast by lunchtime that Coach Hendly had resigned. The basketball
team told the student body that Braun had dyed his hair blonde protesting Brother Justin’s
authority. He was playing his last game for St. Nick’s and he knew that Coach Hendly had
to play him for the title against St. Elizabeth’s. When Brother Justin saw Braun, he ordered
Coach Hendly to bench him. Coach Hendly in so many words told Brother Justin to buzz
off. This was for the championship. Coach Hendly was pissed off at Braun, but needed
him to have a chance to beat St. Elizabeth’s. Brother Justin told Braun to go to the
showers. Coach Hendly told Braun to go out and play his best game for the title. Coach
Hendly asked Brother Justin to please sit in the stands. He was the coach. Brother
Justine told the coach that he would not tolerate insubordination. Mr. Hendly told Brother
Justin that beating St. Elizabeth’s was more important than the color of Braun’s hair. The
referee escorted Brother Justin off the floor and told him to take a seat.
After the game Braun apologized to Brother Justin and Coach Hendly for the
situation that he had created. Mr. Hendly thought that Brother Justin would be more
understanding after St. Nick’s had won the championship and Braun was chosen Most
Valuable Player. Brother Justin told Braun that he was suspended from school for three
days, and Coach Hendly was fired.
Braun and walked to the showers and mumbled a few choice words for Brother
Brother Justin told Mr. Hendly that he was fired.
The Coach reminded Brother Justin that he had two more years left on his
The next day Coach Hendly met with the Alumni Association. They agreed with him,
and called a meeting with the Christian Brothers Regents. Brother Justin was beyond
being a pain in the ass. A week later the Alumni met with the Regents, and they decided
they would honor the two years remaining on Coach Hendly’s contract, but defended
Brother Justin’s actions. The Alumni was mad, and demanded that the Regents
reconsider. They declined, and Coach Hendly was fired. The next week Riordan fired their
basketball coach. They had had three straight losing seasons and hired Coach Hendly.
That was the last straw. The Alumni said that their contributions and involvement with the
school would be reconsidered. Brother Justin was so concerned about his career that he
didn’t realize that he was going down in flames. He canceled the Monday afternoon rally
for the basketball team. The student body thought that was chicken shit.
Hence, Brother Justin became Brother Chicken Shit.
A week after Coach Hendly was fired, some of the senior athletes and the student
body president met with members of the Alumni Association at St. Cecilia's parish hall.
The Alumni wanted to know how badly things had deteriorated. The seniors gave a list of
traditions that had been canceled and a list from some of the faculty complaining about
cutbacks in the budget and sports. The Alumni said that they would review the list at their
Brother Raymond had been the Vice President of St. Nick’s for the last thirteen
years, and respected by all. The Alumni invited Brother Raymond to attend the next
meeting. When the Alumni finished presenting their case, Brother Raymond said that he
was very uncomfortable. He was now put in the middle of a situation that violated his
oath of obedience and conscience as a Christian Brother. Mr. Tillson was the president of
the Alumni Association, and said, "Do you agree with the list of grievances?"
"Yes, I do. All that you say is true, but I must remind you that right or wrong the
Regents have appointed Brother Justin as president. It is not an easy task to convince
the Regents that they erred in choosing Brother Justin," said Brother Raymond.
"We are not involving you…." Mr. Tillson was interrupted.
"But you have. If I knew what this meeting was about, I would have declined your
invitation. You’ve compromised my working relationship and trust with Brother Justin,"
said Brother Raymond.
"We’re asking you what can the students and Alumni do to have Brother Justin
replaced?" asked Mr. Tillson
"Replaced because he fired Coach Hendly?"
"No. It goes beyond the firing. Here is a list of faculty members who are displeased
with the cutbacks in the budget. If the brothers need more money, we will make donations
to help. Do you honestly believe that the education budget should be cut?" asked Mr.
Brother Raymond didn’t know about the list by the faculty members. He had
questioned the cutbacks and was told that St. Nick’s was wasteful. "I believe that
education should not suffer at any cost. I will meet with the faculty, and we will further
discuss this matter," said Brother Raymond.
"Brother Raymond, this is about the school, the boys education, and tradition. It
is not about a coach or saving money. Could some of the Alumni meet with you and the
faculty?" asked Mr. Tillson.
"No. It would be difficult to keep such a meeting a secret. I will be surprised if
Brother Justin doesn’t find out about this meeting. I will discreetly meet with Brothers
Philip, Charles, and Edward. They will each meet with their faculty peers. They will then
meet with me. I will meet with you next week, and discuss my findings. Do you realize the
difficult position that you have put me in?” said Brother Raymond.
"All of us have a great deal to lose, Brother Raymond. If the Regents back
Brother Justin, we all lose credibility. This isn’t an easy task, and we don’t enjoy telling
you this. We can’t sit idle when the students approach us with a legitimate complaint
about their education, that’s supported by the faculty," said Mr. Tillson.
"Let us pray that God will help us do what is right for St. Nick’s, Brother Justin, the
faculty, and the students," said Brother Raymond.
Brother Justin had alienated himself from the faculty and students, so their secret
was kept. Brother Raymond had a close friend who was one of the Regents when they
attended Mount La Salle, and had taken their vows together. Brother Paul was a respected
Regent, and agreed to meet with his old friend Brother Raymond at Mount La Salle in St.
Helena, California. Mount La Salle is in the middle of the Napa Valley wine country, which
the locals refer to as the Valley of the Moon. They would meet the weekend prior to Lent in
the middle of March.
More next week...