February 6, 2024 at 11:06 a.m.
CHIEF OF THE CHIEFS!
CCS’ Viola spreading her love for the Kansas City Chiefs
Catherine Viola of Catholic Central School will be rooting on her favorite team, the Kansas City Chiefs, as the they play the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11 (Emily Benson photo)
Catherine Viola has the Kansas City Chiefs on her mind.
The religion and music teacher for Catholic Central School in Latham is well known around the classroom as a diehard Chiefs fan. If she doesn’t tell you herself, her office is a good giveaway: from her Chiefs’ umbrella and cup, to the deflated balloon of a Chiefs’ helmet tacked to the wall over her desk chair from last year’s Super Bowl.
Now, as she gears up to cheer on her team in Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11, Viola has a few mementos — sent directly from the Chiefs themselves — to help carry her team to victory.
In 2020, Viola was helping run bus duty for St. Ambrose School, directing cars to stop for buses as they came into the parking lot. All the while, she sported her Kansas City jacket and gloves, and on the back of her standard stop sign, Viola added a little message to her students: “Let’s Go Chiefs!”
“This parent took a photo, unbeknownst to me, and sent it to Kansas City!” Viola said.
The photo of Viola decked out in Kansas City gear was sent to GEHA, an insurance company that sponsors the Chiefs, and made its way through to the team themselves. A few weeks later, Viola received a signed card from Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City’s quarterback, a lanyard, pin and a card from the organization saying, “Thank you for bringing Chiefs’ kingdom to New York.”
“I was stunned,” she said. “You would think they don’t respond, but they do.”
Viola grew up cheering for the Kansas City Royals. She never followed football until she was in junior high, when a friend joked that Viola needed to have a football team.
“I found out the Chiefs are in the same parking lot as the Royals — their stadiums are side-by-side — so I said well, I’ll just go for the Chiefs next door,” she laughed. “It was just a random pick, and I’ve been rooting for them since.”
Viola has started growing her own little army of Chiefs fans through her students. A group of first graders who play football outside of CCS named their team “the Chiefs” in honor of their teacher’s love for the team.
The jacket that Viola dons was a surprise from a previous student’s grandparent. Before the merger with Catholic Central High School, Viola taught at St. Ambrose for over 30 years. One year, at the school’s grandparents’ day, Viola stopped a student’s grandfather wearing a Kansas City coat, quipping, “You’re allowed in my class because of your jacket.”
Viola later noticed the jacket was left behind, but when she called the family to let them know, was told that it was left on purpose. “He left the jacket behind and said keep it,” she said. To this day, Viola still talks with the student — now grown-up and graduated from college — about the Kansas City team and their thoughts before games.
Viola plans to watch the Super Bowl with the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St. Colman’s Home in Watervliet, where she has been staying while recovering from a foot injury.
In the meantime, Viola is keeping her hopes high and her prayers heading toward her team: “Ask every priest you see: Go Chiefs; pray for them!”