Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.) became the first New York City team to win the Catholic League Championship in December, accomplishing a feat even more impressive with the full picture of the season and program. The details were so inspirational, in fact, that “Good Morning America” (GMA) hosted a live production with the team and presented gifts to help rectify some of the barriers they had to overcome.

After going 2-8 the season prior, Cardinal Hayes faced a daunting prospect for 2023 outlined in the “GMA” production. The practice field was not full-size and didn’t have lights, so after sundown the team would walk to a nearby field to finish practice. Their home field, located at a public park, was deemed unsafe for official games, so every single game this season was played at an opposing team’s stadium.

Cardinal Hayes President Michael Carey explained to BMA that the school is located in the poorest congressional district in the nation.

“Most of the students come from the surrounding area,” he said. “One thing we’re guaranteed is we’re gonna get knocked down. The question is how we respond.”

They responded magnificently, going 12-2 and taking down St. Francis (Hamburg, N.Y.) 40-22 to win the championship.

“We might not have the most money out of everybody in the league, but I feel we just have to outwork them, and that’s what our coaches really told us a lot,” said junior wide receiver Reid Jones in the “GMA” video.

That mentality was part of their turnaround. The 10-minute walk after dark to a nearby field was viewed as bonding time. The rusty outdoor weights, which gained “incremental pounds” by rain, made them stronger, said junior quarterback Rich Belin.

See the full video here:

Now, “Good Morning America” and its partners are helping to fix the issues. Michael Strahan, New York Giants Hall of Famer who is now with “Good Morning America,” surprised the team with gifts, funding, and some new collegiate offers to a couple players.

Strahan revealed to Jones that William and Mary, Georgetown, and Fordham were all issuing offers. Strahan then told junior wide receiver Jayden Mann that his dream school Syracuse was issuing an offer.

What else did “Good Morning America” gift through its partners?

Riddell provided more than $30,000 worth of football equipment including helmets and pads. Nike gifted every player a pair of cleats. Bank of America provided $50,000 to the program and financial literacy lessons through its Better Money Habits program.

The New York Giants also gave the team tickets to a preseason game.

With those gifts and the culture already built at Cardinal Hayes, you can be sure they’ll be fighting for a spot at the top again next year.


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