The Zac Plantz Foundation and Providence Catholic hosted “Zac Plantz Night” during the Celtics home football game versus the Fenwick Friars on September 10, 2021. Prior to the game, the blessing, dedication, and opening of the newly renovated Zac Plantz Performance Center and Providence Grotto took place.
The evening started out with a beautifully said Mass by Providence Catholic President, Fr. John Merkelis, O.S.A, attended by the Celtic football team and the immediate Plantz Family. This pregame ritual is a tradition at Providence that Tyler, Zac, and Logan know well, all being former Football Captains for the Celtics.
“Zac was a man of faith. He kept a little posted note on the rear-view mirror in his car with the words ‘Jesus Bless Me with Your Peace’ written on it. He played with his hair lit on fire, with passion and pride for [Providence],” stated Fr. Merkelis during his homily. He directed the team to do the same in his honor.
Following the Mass, the team huddled at the newly renovated Grotto around the Blessed Mother, as they do before every game. The fresh landscape and blooming flowers were energizing and brought a sense of rejuvenation. During this special time, usually, only the Providence players are present. The captains sit before their teammates and speak a few final words of encouragement before getting ready for the game. This night was a little different. Alumni and former captains, Tyler ’10, and Logan ’14, both brothers of Zac, were given the honor to say a few words, just as they did years prior with their teams.
“It is exactly what Fr. Merk said in his homily. Passion. Pride. Providence. That is what it’s all about and what you need to keep in mind every play out there. The rest will take care of itself,” said Logan. The team concluded just as they always do with their recitations of prayers followed by, “Our Lady of Victory, pray for us!”
After the Grotto talk with the team, the blessing and dedication of the newly renovated grotto as well as the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Zac Plantz Performance Center took place. Zac’s family took part in blessing both the Grotto and Performance Center moments before Zac’s father, Ron, did the honor and cut the ribbon signifying the opening of the state-of-the-art facility. “Zac was fiercely loyal to Providence. He even told Kat [Zac’s significant other] that if he did pass, he wanted his ashes spread on the field at Providence,” stated Ron. “He loved the weight room. It’s an honor that this will live on in his name, add to his legacy, and benefit athletes here for years to come.”
Prior to the kickoff of the varsity game, hundreds of alumni, friends, family and loved ones of Zac filled the endzone. The Zac Plantz Foundation hosted a jubilant tailgate fitting to Zac and his personality. The Foundation provided information on future initiatives inspired by how Zac led his life, as well as ways to get involved with the not-for-profit organization. They will be seeking to connect young men and women with transformative opportunities across the pillars of Zac’s life: Faith-based education, service, leadership, health & wellness.
Zac’s parents, Laura and Ron, his siblings, Tyler ’10, Logan, ’14, and Abby ’20, and the Plantz Brothers’ significant others, Angela Jensen ’14, Jana Jenkins, and Kathleen Hough walked to midfield as the honorary captains for the night and moments later a firework show that was simply captivating and unexpected in a high school arena followed the national anthem.
In the end, the Celtics came away from the victors, 21-20, over the highly ranked Friars, who had multiple Division 1 prospects. With under 4-minutes left to play, the Celtic defense blocked the Fenwick PAT to keep a 21-20 lead, which ended in a victory. But just how was that kicked blocked? The snap was slow, the hold was bad, and the kicker definitely did not take the proper steps. There was definitely a 12th man on the defense for that play, and I think he will continue to watch over all of us as time continues to pass.
Zac was and always will be a Celtic. His legacy there will live on forever and will continue as the Foundation that rose from the ashes of Zac’s tragic passing continues to put good into this world in his memory.