WILMINGTON – More than 750 miles separate St. Mary Magdalen School and the Georgia Dome, the home of the Atlanta Falcons. That is approximately twice the distance from the school to Gillette Stadium, which the New England Patriots call home.
But this Sunday, when the teams meet in Houston in Super Bowl LI, the rooting interest at St. Mary Magdalen will be decidedly in the Falcons’ favor, thanks to the very personal connection the school has with one Atlanta player. Paul Worrilow, a Falcons linebacker, graduated from St. Mary Magdalen in 2004 and got his start playing football with the parish Catholic Youth Ministry program.
To celebrate Worrilow’s success, the school community got together Feb. 3 for a Super Bowl pep rally. The gymnasium was a sea of red and black, much of it Falcons apparel. Some students, as well as pastor Father James Kirk, wore jerseys with Worrilow’s number 55 on it.
Vice principal Kathleen Manns helped introduce Worrilow, 26, through a slideshow containing information about the Wilmington native and his time at St. Mary Magdalen. The students learned that Worrilow liked to have chocolate milk at lunch every day, and he never got anything but an A in physical education class. In addition, his confirmation name was Francis because he loves animals.
They also learned that Worrilow and his wife, Gina, were married by Father Kirk. The priest said the ceremony took place at St. John the Baptist Church on Main Street in Newark, near the University of Delaware, which the couple attended. Worrilow signed the jersey Father Kirk was wearing.
He played his high school ball at Concord for coach George Kosanovich, who attended the pep rally with current Raiders coach Greg Mitchell. Kosanovich said he is not surprised Worrilow made it to the National Football League, although he doesn’t remember the player talking about becoming a professional.
“If he would have said that, I would certainly say you have the work ethic to get there. Sometimes, it’s the right place at the right time for any athlete. Thank God, he did find the right place at the right time because his work ethic is matched by none,” Kosanovich said.
Worrilow, he continued, rarely spoke except to his teammates, but when he did he had a positive impact.
“Never complained, worked hard,” the coach said. “Only positive things ever came out of his mouth if he ever opened it.”
Worrilow visits Concord and St. Mary Magdalen when he is back in Delaware. Since he couldn’t make the rally, he recorded a message for his alma mater from Houston.
“Thank you, guys, for all your support and for wearing your red and black,” he said. “I hope to be the first St. Mary Magdalen Bulldog to win a Super Bowl. So go Falcons and go Bulldogs.”