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Pole vaulter reaches highs for teamwork, kindness

Luke Pescarino, a four-year track and football player, leaves a positive footprint at St. Dominic

Luke Pescarino, a pole-vaulter and football player at St. Dominic High School in O’Fallon, was recognized by the Missouri Football Coaches Association as a member of the 2018 MFCA Hands Team, which honors outstanding volunteerism, civic involvement, teamwork and acts of kindness.
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
Luke Pescarino of St. Dominic High School followed in his dad’s footsteps as a pole vaulter in high school.

It’s “a thrill being swung up into the air,” he said. “I definitely enjoyed doing that. It’s a lot of fun.”

Pescarino also left his mark on the football field.

The Missouri Football Coaches Association recognized Pescarino as a member of the 2018 MFCA Hands Team, which recognizes outstanding volunteerism, civic involvement, teamwork and acts of kindness. This year’s program recognized seven players and one coach from across the state, including just two athletes from the St. Louis area.

“The coaching staff nominated Luke for this prestigious award given to student-athletes who truly embrace selflessness and giving to others,” said St. Dominic head football coach Blake Markway. “When we think about the traits we want to see from our football players, Luke is every one of those traits. He and the other six recipients are well deserving of their MFCA Hands Team selection for what they do for others.”

Pescarino was a four-year fullback for St. Dominic’s football program, although his senior football season ended after two games with a broken tibia and fibula.

The football program instills a brotherhood and hard work, Pescarino said. “Everyone was working to make everyone else better. It’s not just a one-man thing.”

Summer practices were his favorite time, he said. Even after his injury, he stayed a part of the team by mentoring the other running backs and viewing the game from a perspective of a coach.

A highlight of the track and field season, he said, was spending time with another pole vaulter on the team, senior Tyler Sachs. Sachs vaulted 12’ and Pescarino vaulted 11’ 9, among the highest ever at St. Dominic. The pole vaulters will be missed, but their brothers, who are underclassmen, will fill their shoes.

Pescarino said he’ll miss being part of the sports teams and the tight-knit community at St. Dominic.

In addition to being a peer minister at St. Dominic, Pescarino was vice chancellor of Viri Dei (an organization for senior boys to discuss the intersection of theology, culture and masculine spirituality) and vice president of the Bowling Club. He is a member of Assumption Parish in O’Fallon, where he has led retreats and participated in service trips to Boston and Memphis. He plans to attend Benedictine University in Atchison, Kan., in the fall.

The service trips were especially rewarding, Pescarino said, because “I like to do hands-on stuff and be outside. It wasn’t a burden for me to do some landscaping for someone who can’t do it,” he said. “After seeing them smile and appreciate it, I realized it was making a difference and I was meeting some cool people while doing it.”

Leading retreats also is a joy, he said, because “I like to see people find who they actually are in such a short time.”

His faith is important, he said, and he incorporated it into his athletic life, including “holding my tongue when it was difficult to do when people were trash-talking” and praying before the games, after the games and “during the games sometimes. Our team would pray on game days and our coach would read us a Scripture verse before every game. Our team definitely did a good job of prioritizing faith too.”

Pescarino said Markway, who also coaches the boys track team, is a role model. “He carries himself with a lot of humility, and he’s definitely been a great inspiration to me and all my teammates.”

Markway said Pescarino “has earned so much respect from his teammates, coaches and all those in our school community because he is so genuine and honest in everything he does and with everyone he meets. I’ve been blessed to coach many student-athletes who do great things outside of their performance in their sport, but few have been able to meet the standard that Luke has over the last four years in football and track when it comes to modeling an unselfish attitude and truly caring for others.”

Hands Team

The Missouri Football Coaches Association Hands Team is comprised of Missouri high school student-athletes and a coach who make outstanding contributions in the areas of volunteerism and civic involvement and embody the true spirit of “teamwork” and “giving back” through commendable acts of kindness.

The seven student-athletes and coach named to the MFCA Hands Team are selected from nominations submitted by Missouri high school Head Football Coaches and/or members of the coaching staff, or high school principals and guidance counselors. The team was selected at the MFCA State Convention in December.

Luke Pescarino of St. Dominic High School is one of only two recipients of the award from the St. Louis metropolitan area.

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