ST. JOHN'S ( COLLEGEVILLE)
Quiet and scholarly, St. John's is located 70 miles to the northwest of Minneapolis-St. Paul on 2,400 acres of woods and lakes. Its Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research attracts students from half the states and several foreign countries. The school library includes a microfilm collection of manuscripts written in European monasteries before 1600 A.D. Athletics have become less important in such an atmosphere. Once St. John's 1,500 male students really cared about beating Hamline and St. Thomas, but now their interests are ecumenism and liturgical reform. And with John Gagliardi around as football coach a tradition of underemphasis is assured.
Gagliardi never cuts anyone from his squad, doesn't believe in physical-education majors, inspirational signs in the locker room, long practices and wind sprints ("I want the boys to stay fresh so they can study in the evenings") or even game plans. He also rejects the concept of training rules. "We don't need them because we don't get the type of boy that requires them," he says. "We have one rule: Be a topflight person at all times."
His relaxed approach to football has been remarkably successful. Gagliardi's Johnnies won NAIA titles in 1963 and 1965 and during one stretch lost only five of 50 games. Last season they compiled a record of eight victories (including a 21-0 win over Iowa's Simpson College in the Mineral Water Bowl), one loss and a tie.
"This year we [ Gagliardi and his lone assistant coach] will have a hundred out for fall practice," he says. "And when it's all over I'm sure that our squad will number around 95 players." Most notable among them are the co-captains, Quarterback Tom Kafka and All-Conference Linebacker John Lynch. Lynch is an example of Gagliardi's "topflight person." He is an honor student and vice-president of the St. John's student body.
"We are outstanding on defense, and we outmorale the opposition," the coach says. "The feeling with the squad every game is we'll get them in the end." That is St. John's game plan. It is, like the rest of the school's football program, naive, charming and sufficient.
There isn't much to do in Kingsville, Texas—Corpus Christi, the nearest city, is 30 miles away—except, maybe, visit the million-acre King Ranch, so students at Texas A&I University have learned to provide their own diversions. There is, for example, Speakers' Corner, where dissenters lecture on any subject that occurs to them. More popular are stage productions like H.M.S. Pinafore and The Boy Friend. Spring is the season for rodeos, and many of the students follow the A&I team, a member of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.
But, as elsewhere in Texas, fall is a time devoted wholly to football. The students gather happily at Javelina Stadium, where the only modern fixture is the lighting system. (Hurricane Beulah destroyed the old light towers when she paid a visit to Kingsville in 1967.) There they are treated to Jalisco, one of the school's fight songs, and the band will knock it out as many as 75 times a game if the team is winning.
The Javelinas, named after the wild hog indigenous to South Texas and Mexico, very rarely lose. In Gil Steinke's 16 seasons as coach, they have won 118, lost 44 and tied four. They were NAIA champions in 1959, came close in 1968 and won it again last season.