Lifelong connections, indeed, for one senior

Parker Spellacy makes his mark as a member of the Irish family


Jade Zhao

Senior Parker Spellacy (84) made the move from California to Cathedral during his junior year.

Nicholas Rodecap, Co-Editor-in-Chief

1,884 miles is the distance from Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento, California, to 5225 East 56th Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. On July 4, 2020, Parker Spellacy completed the nearly 2,000-mile journey to play for the Fighting Irish. 

Less than two years later, he has multiple Division I offers, all-State recognition and two State championship rings.

The coronavirus pandemic threatened to shut down both athletics and in-person education in California, and the prospect of a fall without high school football or actual classrooms was one of the catalysts for Spellacy moving east. He wanted to avoid online learning, and with Cathedral being one of the only schools in Indiana to begin the 2020 school year entirely in person, the Irish certainly stood out to him. 

Additionally, his sister attended Syracuse University at the time, and being separated by 2700 miles would have been less than ideal should the university have been forced to go online. “As a family, we were concerned that if Syracuse were to shut down, she would be stuck in New York, and she would be all the way across the country,” he said. 

So why Indianapolis? Why Cathedral? Of all the places to which to venture, why go so far away from Sacramento, California, to a Holy Cross school in Central Indiana? 

To people who are well-versed in long-tenured Cathedral families, the Spellacy name is undoubtedly a familiar one. “Overall, I’ve had 22 family members (who have) graduated from Cathedral. Currently at the school, I have two cousins, both (of whom) are soccer players. One is (sophomore) Catherine Cline (who is my aunt’s daughter) and (the other is junior) Anna Spellacy (who is my uncle’s daughter),” Parker said. It is also worth noting that both Catherine and Anna have older sisters (Caroline ‘21 and Samantha ‘21) who were members of the basketball and soccer teams, respectively, during their time on the Hill. During the 2020-21 school year, there were quite a few Spellacys and Clines who called Cathedral home. Catherine said, “At the time, there were five of us at Cathedral together. It was one of the highlights of my freshman year.” 

These numerous familial connections played a significant role in Parker’s decision to transfer. “When my aunt asked my parents about the opportunity to come to Cathedral (and live with her), we just took our bags and left as soon as we could. Going to school with family is always nice, and having a lot of support from your family in sports and school makes you feel a lot better,” he said. 

Anna said that she has gone to most football games over the past two years and noted how enjoyable it was to watch Parker in action. “I’ve had cousins on the football team, but that was before I was at Cathedral, so having a cousin currently on the team that I (got) to support is exciting. It’s even more special that we share a last name because when they announce that Spellacy made a catch, he’s making our family proud,” she said. 

Given the football program’s consecutive State titles in 2020 and 2021, the athletic aspect of Parker’s Cathedral career has undoubtedly been successful. Having joined the team as a junior, Spellacy said there was a learning curve. “It took a lot of hard work to be able to get on the field right away,” he said. 

This hard work did not go unnoticed. Mr. Frank Karczewski, Spellacy’s position coach, said that Parker is a high-achieving player who, he noted, “sets his sights on the most difficult challenges and tries to find a way to meet those goals.” 

He noted Spellacy’s constant pursuit of perfection. “(He) asks a lot of questions, rarely because he has missed some key information, but because his goal is perfection in all that he does,” Karczewski said. During his two seasons suiting up for the blue and gold, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound tight end racked up 33 receptions for 398 yards and four touchdowns. 

But those numbers do not tell the whole story. “At many schools throughout the state, a player like Parker would be the featured ball catcher,” Karczewski said. “(He) had to show selflessness this year. At Cathedral, he was one of many featured weapons, but (Parker) may have been one of the best downfield blockers on the team. Parker’s willingness to block and lead others to scores (was) often what turned good plays into game-breakers. He’s more than deserving of all-State recognition and will be a dangerous weapon (at) whichever school he chooses to play (for) next year,” Karczewski said. 

Spellacy said, “It was definitely a fun experience (winning two State championships) because it wasn’t expected. Obviously, Cathedral is good, but they hadn’t won state in a while, and so when I got (here) I was really just hoping to play for a team. To go that far (in the postseason) was really a blessing.” 

“Sports are a lot more competitive out here,” Spellacy said. “I haven’t played football games with that many fans (in attendance) before.” One can reasonably infer that he was referring to the Oct. 15, 2021 contest that saw the Irish take on Center Grove. Dubbed “The Battle for the Midwest,” a sellout crowd of 4500 fans — officially — packed the stands of Arlington Middle School to watch as the two heavyweights did battle on the rain-soaked gridiron. YouTube celebrity Deestroying would probably dispute these attendance numbers, as the content creator was mobbed by so many fans while at the game that he ended up leaving prematurely, noting on Instagram and his YouTube channel that it would be the last high school football game he would be attending. 

Before his exit, Deestroying did designate Spellacy as being “certified,” a distinction the tight end earned after making a leaping grab on a difficult pass thrown by sophomore quarterback Danny O’Neil. As far as publicity goes, this game undoubtedly cast the brightest spotlight on the Irish and Spellacy during his last year as a member of the Fighting Irish. 

“My senior year, it was a little bit sad,” Spellacy said. The final chapter in his high school career, Spellacy’s senior season signaled the end of an era as it does for all high school athletes. He noted that during his second and final season, he took on a big brother role, mentoring younger players and coaching up the future of the program. Coach Karczewski said that Spellacy held younger players in his position group to the same high standards as himself, pushing them to know their assignments and responsibilities each week. 

Having attended a private Lasallian school before Cathedral, Spellacy had experience with religious education. He said the most significant difference lies in the Holy Cross tradition in the classroom. As opposed to the Christian Brothers’ emphasis on knowledge of Christ’s life and how it could impact him, he noted Holy Cross’s focus on living out the values that Jesus exemplified in His life. 

Spellacy certainly strives for the Holy Cross value of excellence both on and off the field; his 4.25 GPA is ample proof. Additionally, the flood of relatives who have attended Cathedral, past and present, serve as a perfect example of the Holy Cross value of family. 

Perhaps “Lifelong Connections” isn’t as far from the truth as it may seem. Just ask the Spellacys or their cousins.