Fr. Prusynksi's name and spirit live on

By The Beacon | March 6, 2013 9:00pm

The athletic department added a patch to soccer, basketball, baseball and volleyball jerseys to honor long-time UP athletics supporter Fr. Chester Prusynksi, who passed away last year. (Giovanna Solano | THE BEACON)

By W.C. Lawson, Staff Writer

After one of the most recognized members of the Portland Pilots Hall of Fame, Fr. Chester Prusynksi, passed away last Spring, the Athletic Department added a patch that reads "PRU" to sports teams' jerseys in his name.

Fr. Prusynksi, commonly known as Fr. Pru, wore many hats during his 46 years at UP. He was a member of the University's Board of Regents, a professor from the School of Business, a director of Shipstad and Kenna Halls and director of the Salzburg program.

During his time at UP, he always had a connection to the Athletics Department.

"When he was younger, he served as a team chaplain for a lot of programs," Athletic Media Coordinator Jason Brough said. "Later he became an advisor for some of the student athletes."

Fr. Pru was a die-hard Pilots fan. According to Brough, he went to almost every home sporting event for over 40 years.

The athletic department gives out the Fr. Chester Prusynski Award annually for its top student athletes, and the practice field at the Clive Charles Soccer Complex was named Pru Pitch in his honor.

"Any game he could attend he was always a fixture," said Brough. "He always had the inside scoop on the University's athletic teams."

According to assistant director of Media Relations Joe Kuffner, the volleyball, baseball, soccer and basketball teams each received new uniforms this year that included the PRU patch in Prusynksi's honor.

"The idea of placing memorial patches on sports teams' jerseys in honor of major supporters of the Athletic Department who pass away has been a tradition at UP," Kuffner said. "Teams keep the patch for one season in memory of the person."

Prusynksi is not the only Pilot fan to receive such an honor, as the Athletic Department always looks to honor someone who cared so much about the program. "A few years ago we had the patch for former athletic administrator, legendary fan and alumnus Mauro Potestio that read 'Mauro 858' which recognized him for the 858 consecutive home games he attended," Kuffner said.

While neither Prusynksi nor Potestio had input on the outcome of the games, their spirit and support for many years leaves them on a level that few Pilot fans can stand on.

"When someone has been a supporter for that long and really touched lives of so many and coaches and student athletes, we just have to give them recognition," Kuffner said. "I think after Fr. Pru passed away, it was a no-brainer to honor him," he said.