The second annual Legends Classic to benefit the Patrick G. Kwiatkowski ’72 Memorial Scholarship Fund will be held Aug. 21. Click here to reserve your spot or to donate. This story was originally published in the winter edition of CHS Today. Above, Scott '97, Mary Jean, Matthew '09 and Michael Kwiatkowski '99 at the inaugural 2021 event.
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By the numbers, the coaching career of the late Patrick Kwiatkowski ’72 is impressive. More than 700 wins over 23 years as the Canisius High School bowling coach. Five Monsignor Martin Athletic Association championships and five All-Catholic championships.
Then there are the hundreds of Crusader student-athletes – including his own sons Scott ’97, Michael ’99 and Matthew ’09 – who learned and developed under the longtime coach. By the telling of those who loved him, those numbers are only a fraction of the impression Kwiatkowski made during his lifetime. He was a dedicated husband, father and grandfather, a hard-working store manager, a compassionate boss and a role model for the Jesuit motto of “Men for Others.” He made his mark on the lanes in what little time he had to spare.
When Kwiatkowski passed away in 2019, the family sought a way to honor his legacy.
“Bowling has always been a big part of our lives, but family always came first,” said Mary Jean Kwiatkowski, the coach’s wife of 42 years. "Pat started as coach of the bowling team when our son, Scott, asked him to substitute after the former coach left. One year turned into 23 – that was Pat, always doing more to help out.”
According to eldest son, Scott, the line of people attending his father’s wake was out the door. “My dad always thought he was not well-known, but the number of people who came to pay their respects proved otherwise,” Scott said. “So many donated to pay tribute to him at the service, the family decided to establish a scholarship at Canisius with the funds.”
A fundraiser held in August 2021 got the ball rolling for the Patrick G. Kwiatkowski ’72 Memorial Scholarship Fund. Middle son, Michael – now the varsity coach at Canisius after 12 years of coaching JV with his father – says the overwhelming success of the event demonstrates the impact the coach made on so many lives.
“The event was a family affair, not just his wife and sons, but grandchildren, in-laws, and my dad’s extended family in the Canisius community,” Michael said. “More than 100 bowlers participated, including former players he coached and teammates from when my dad played on the school’s first bowling team. Over 120 more people attended to help raise funds.”
Four of Coach Kwiatkowski’s classmates – John Buszka ’72, John Lagree ’72, Paul Maloney ’72 and Gene Rudzinski ’72 – bowled in the event and others from the class came to watch. Donations came from across the country and a generous gift even came from Germany. The first event raised more than $15,000 to establish the scholarship.
With the help of Andy Deyell ’91, vice president of institutional advancement at the high school, the family structured a unique scholarship aimed at aiding a student in financial need who is on the Crusader bowling team. Their goal is to build the funds through additional donations to create an endowed scholarship that continues to help student bowlers for years to come.
“My father had the blue and gold in his veins,” said youngest son Matthew. “The scholarship is a tribute to him, the values he maintained over his life and the brotherhood of Canisius High School that meant so much to him."