Guilfoyle athletics appreciated Crosser’s support

The Rev. Raymond Crosser, a familiar face on the sideline or bench at Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic sporting events the past 20 years died last week.

“We always had a running joke that we never lost when he was in the building,” Marauders boys basketball coach Chris Drenning said. “He had such a great impact on the kids. He had such a great wit. When the game was over, he was the first person I always went to talk to. He always had something funny to say. Our guys loved him. They would joke around with him and smile. We were so thankful to have him around. He was just a tremendous man.”

Crosser turned 90 in April but was still actively following the Marauders’ sports programs and was concerned about the state of mind both the boys and girls basketball teams were in when their seasons were ended by the coronavirus pandemic in the quarterfinals of the PIAA tournament.

“When the season stopped for us in March, he would email me and ask if there was anything he could do for the kids,” Drenning said. “When he was at Garvey Manor, his main form of communication was email, but he stayed in contact. He wanted to know if there was any chance the kids could play and how they were doing with the situation.”

Crosser was a 1948 graduate of Altoona Catholic and became an ordained priest in 1956. He retired in 1996 and spent 17 years as the Marauders’ team chaplain before retiring.

“They had a ceremony for him at BG when he was retiring,” Drenning said. “The kids always had a ‘Father Crosser’ chant that they did, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. He meant so much to those kids. It’s a tremendous loss to the BG community.”

A viewing will be held today from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Saint Joseph Parish in Bellwood and Tuesday from 9-10:45 a.m. at Saint Joseph. A funeral mass will follow Tuesday’s viewing at Saint Joseph.

Crosser was on the field when Bishop Guilfoyle won its first PIAA football title in 2014, just the second state football title won by a District 6 team at the time.

“I am so proud of the accomplishments of our athletic teams, especially proud to have been with two consecutive state football championship teams,” said Crosser prior to the Marauders winning their third straight PIAA title. “I saw in them a determined and dedicated group — what team spirit is all about.”

Crosser was there to welcome current Bishop Guilfoyle football coach Justin Wheeler on his first day when the Marauders were far from the state-championship regulars they would soon become.

“I don’t think I have ever met a guy more into Bishop Guilfoyle and BG football,” Wheeler said. “He just loved the sport. My earliest memories of getting hired there involved him and him being around. He gave me the lowdown on the school, the players and was just a sports buff.”

Crosser didn’t make it to Hershey this past season when Bishop Guilfoyle lost to Farrell in overtime in the PIAA final, but he certainly had his eyes on the program.

“He loved it,” Wheeler said. “He was down on the sideline with the team for those state championship runs, and he lit up when he talked about them. He wasn’t able to make it to the last state championship game this past season, but he was sending me emails asking for a breakdown of our opponents and what their strengths and weaknesses were.”

Crosser was also on the bench for three Bishop Guilfoyle girls basketball PIAA title wins in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

“I’ll always remember our team get togethers at Christmas,” former BG girls coach Mark Moschella said. “The kids were always so happy to see Father Crosser, and he meant so much to the school and our teams whether it was on the bench with us or sitting in the first row.”

Drenning said one of the last games Crosser was able to attend in person was the Marauders’ 2018 District 6 championship win over Purchase Line at Mount Aloysius.

But both Crosser and Drenning wished he could be at even more.

“His health wouldn’t allow him to be at the games,” Drenning said. “We would email and talk, and when we beat OLSH to make it to Hershey (in 2019), I emailed him the next day and told him we had to get him there, because we never lose when he’s in the building. He said he’d love to, but with his health, he couldn’t. I joked with him that I would carry him to Hershey. He was so happy for the players to get that experience.”


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