Four former Parochial Athletic League (PAL) athletes and one coach were inducted into the Diocese of Orange PAL Hall of Fame in a special ceremony at the Tustin Ranch Golf Club that took place following the 4th Annual Parochial League Golf Tournament last month.
FR. ANGELOS SEBASTIAN, THE DIOCESE OF ORANGE’S VICAR GENERAL AND MODERATOR OF THE CURIA, GREETS RUSS SMITH, THE DIOCESAN DIRECTOR OF ELEMENTARY ATHLETICS WHO RUNS THE PAL. PHOTOS BY STEVE GEORGES/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
PAL gives students attending faith-based K-12 schools within diocesan boundaries the opportunity to play competitive sports in an environment driven by Christian sportsmanship, teamwork respect and responsibility.
“We want kids to have an opportunity to play and have an opportunity to represent their school and just enjoy sports for what they’re supposed to be,” said Russ Smith, the Diocesan Director of Elementary Athletics who runs the PAL.
A GOLFER TAKES A SWING DURING THE 4TH ANNUAL PAROCHIAL LEAGUE GOLF TOURNAMENT HELD ON MAY 9.
Many former PAL athletes have gone onto successful, faith-driven careers in sports, becoming professional athletes, coaches and members of the media.
The PAL Hall of Fame was established in 2022 as a way of honoring athletes, coaches and supporters who have made significant contributions to the league, Smith said.
The 2023 inductees are Doug Briggs and athletes Sara Hughes, Lauren Markwith, the late Konrad Reuland and Johnny Stanton.
Hughes, Briggs, Markwith and Stanton were present to accept their awards.
Mary Reuland, Konrad’s mother, accepted the induction award on behalf of her son.
Shortly after his NFL career had ended in 2016, Reuland died on Dec. 12, 2016, days after suffering a brain aneurysm while working out. He was 29.
“I do wish he could be here because he would have considered this one of life’s biggest honors and just appreciate all the love and support from St. John’s and the community in general,” Reuland said.
A former teacher at Sts. Simon & Jude School in Huntington Beach for 30 years, Smith has been in charge of the PAL since 1998.
Under his guidance, PAL now offers a total of 13 sports in 35 schools throughout an academic year, with thousands of participants.
While most of the 35 participating schools are part of the Diocese, it is not a requirement, Smith said.
He estimates that about 80,000 youngsters have participated in PAL during his tenure.
The 2023 PAL Hall of Fame class includes:
Stanton played multiple sports in the PAL, starting as a fifth grader a St. Catherine of Siena School in Laguna Beach. He attended Santa Margarita Catholic High School and was part of the Eagles’ CIF State Division team of 2011.
In college, Stanton played for the Saddleback College team that won the 2015 SCFA Championship. He played two seasons at UNLV and played in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings and the Cleveland Browns.
Markwith was a multi-sport athlete at Sts. Simon & Jude School in Huntington Beach from Tyke through eighth grade.
He went on to play soccer at Mater Dei, helping the Monarchs win a CIF Southern Section Championship in 2015 and finish second in the State Championship that year.
While still in high school, Markwith also played on the Guatemalan Women’s National Team competing in the U17 and U20 World Cup Qualifiers.
Markwith earned a scholarship to play soccer at the University of Miami and was part of a team that won the ACC championship.
After her dream of playing pro soccer got derailed during COVID, pursued a career in sports broadcasting and digital networking.
She has worked as a color commentator for the NWSL and ACC Network and currently working at CBS as part of the “Attacking Third” Women’s Soccer podcast.
A graduate of St. Justin Martyr School in 1972 and Servite High School 1976, Briggs returned to St. Justin Martyr in 1979 to coach.
In his fourth year of being there, Briggs then coached the St. Justin Martyr football team to 21-1 record, winning the Servite and Mater Dei Tournaments and ultimately, the PAL Championship.
Briggs also served on the PAL Board helping rewrite the flag football rule book.
Briggs then coached several sports and taught PE at St. Juliana Falconieri School from 1983 to 1987.
Briggs left coaching in 1987 but returned to St. Juliana in 1992, when his first child enrolled there. Starting
in 1995 his teams went on an incredible run and won eight flag football championships.
Hughes played volleyball and basketball in fifth through eighth grades at Sts. Simon & Jude Elementary School in Huntington Beach.
She started playing beach volleyball at age 8, winning multiple AAU and CBVA tournaments.
Hughes also played indoor volleyball at Mater Dei High School and was named the Orange County Player of the Year in 2012.
She played beach volleyball for USC, where she won the NCAA Beach Volleyball titles two years in a row.
Hughes joined the AVP, considered the premier professional beach volleyball league and in 2017, won the Chicago Championship with her partner Kelly Cheng.
The pair have become one of the AVP’s top duos, winning several titles.
Hughes’ goal is to join the U.S. Olympic team. Just 12 days after her induction, the duo won the AVP Pro Series Huntington Beach Open.
Reuland attended St. John’s Episcopal School in Rancho Santa Margarita.
He played basketball for a year at Mater Dei, helping the Monarchs reach the 2003 CIF Southern Section and California State Championships.
Reuland transferred to Mission Viejo High School for his sophomore year and played tackle football for the first time.
He was an All-CIF Southern Section tight end in 2004 and 2005 and was a first team tight end on USA Today’s prep All-America team as a senior.
Reuland played football for one season at Notre Dame before transferring to Stanford.
He went on to play in the NFL from 2011 to 2106, playing for the 49ers, Jets, Colts and Ravens. Reuland was an organ donor, and in what became an act of serendipity, his heart and one kidney were donated to Hall of Fame baseball player Rod Carew. Reuland had met Carew as a fifth grader and was inspired by him.
The Konrad Reuland Memorial Foundation supports a variety of causes, including Donate Life California, an organ and tissue donor registry. To learn more, visit https://konradreuland.com/
For more information on the Parochial Athletic League and Hall of Fame nomination guidelines, visit https://www.parochialathleticleague.com/