DePaul Prep students bond over World Cup

Caitlin Kailus, Staff Writer

Throughout the hallways, classrooms, and cafeterias at school, many students and teachers alike have been tuning in on iPads and computers to watch the FIFA 2022 Men’s World Cup soccer games, along with the rest of the world. 

On Tuesday, November 29th, the United States Men’s National Soccer team, (or USMNT for short), played in a gut-wrenching match against Iran. “I was on the edge of my seat,” said Charlotte Menard, sophomore on the Junior Varsity girl’s soccer team, who watched the game during lunch with her friends. It was particularly frightening to students as the USMNT had to come out with a win— a draw or a loss would knock them out of the tournament and they would not advance to the knockout stage. If they were not able to advance, players and fans from all over the country would be devastated, especially after the USMNT failed to qualify for the last World Cup. 

The United States vs. Iran match kicked off at 1pm Chicago time – particularly ideal for students with C Lunch that day. In the cafeteria, following kickoff, students all across Corboy Hall and the Dining Hall were glued to their iPads. This could be the end, students thought as they sat down with their lunches to watch the game. 

Once the opening whistle blew, the whole room tensed. The game remained 0-0 for the next 38 minutes, but a scoreless tie would not do it for the United States. They needed a goal, and desperately. With a little over 7 minutes remaining in the first half, Sergino Dest served in a direct headed cross into the 6 yard box to Christian Pulisic, who sprinted to the ball and knocked it in the goal, whilst simultaneously colliding with the Iranian goalie. The very second that the ball crossed over the goal line, the whole school erupted. Students were yelling, cheering, running through the halls. Morale at school was high, as it was in the rest of the country. Our country had a real chance of advancing, if we could hold onto the lead. 

And hold onto the lead we did. The USMNT advanced and everyone was content, although in some perspectives, the World Cup wasn’t solely about if the United States won or lost. To some people, the tournament meant even more than that. 

To some students, soccer is more than just a game. It’s a celebration of culture and expression of pride in one’s nationality.

“I have not seen so many students excited about the same sporting event,” Mr. Maseman claims. “It’s even bigger than March Madness.”

Seeing one’s favorite college represented in the national basketball tournament is an honor around school, but a number of students feel that the World Cup provides a different type of connection with personal identity— a kind that only happens every four years. 

“I think that students are connecting on a cultural level,” Charlotte Menard declared.

It’s not exactly a secret that the World Cup is bringing people together here at DePaul Prep, as students can be seen publicly banding together to watch their favorite teams, particularly USA and Brazil, compete in the tournament.

“Everybody’s talking about [The World Cup] everyday, especially when the US has a game,” Head Boy’s and Girl’s soccer coach, Mr. O’Reilly said.

Even in some classes during independent work time, or as a form of cultural enrichment, teachers are playing the games on the projectors. It is a well known fact that around the world, sports have the power of uniting people of all backgrounds, but it is especially fascinating to see it happening here at DePaul Prep. 

“People seem to love tournaments, and this is the biggest tournament in the world,” Mr. O’Reilly declared.

Seeing students come together over a shared joy of a sport— or just out of pure pride in their identities— is a once in a lifetime experience. And maybe four years from now, one may hear the echoes of American cheering down the hallways here at school, and realize that they are a part of something that is truly special.