Brian Stackpole does not like attention. He would rather go unnoticed.
This spotlight was unavoidable. It served to honor his father, Captain Timothy Stackpole of Ladder 103 in Brooklyn, one of the heroes who were lost on September 11, 2001.
Prior to the Battle of the Boulevard between St. Francis Prep and Holy Cross, the public address announcer told the crowd of over 3,200 at St. John’s University’s DaSilva Field that Stackpole would be wearing his father’s retired No. 32 jersey just three days after the six-year anniversary of 9/11.
“[I’m] following in his footsteps,” he said.
There was a similar ceremony last season, but Stackpole was on the jayvee last year, sitting in the crowd for the rivalry game. He had nowhere to go this time. Well, almost.
“I got this helmet to hide under,” the junior defensive back/holder said after helping the Terriers to a 14-7 win over the Knights.
Stackpole admitted to a great deal of nerves as he gazed into the capacity crowd.
As he prepared to play the biggest game of his life, emotion ran through his body, memories of his father running through his head. Many of his teammates did not even know about his dad. They know now.
“It was real emotional for him, so we tried to build him up all week,” senior cornerback James Kikel said. “He’s a shy kid, likes to keep it low key, not let anybody know. But it’s good everybody knows, and we respect him a lot for it.”
This time of year is always emotional for the Stackpole family.
On September 11, his mother Tara hosts a ceremony in their Belle Harbor backyard. Annual recognition from the Catholic League honoring her husband is very important. So is the continued tradition Brian and his younger brother, Brendan, a quarterback on the freshman team, are carrying on.
“People tend to think it’s all about the ceremonies - you hear so many stories about all the tributes - but really the true tribute to my husband and to all the other people who lost their lives that day, is their families are continuing with their lives,” she said.
“My boys get up every day and they go to the same school their father went to. They are influenced by the Franciscan education and the same coaches.”
“I’m so glad they are part of that that football program,” she later added.