Poland Union Elementary School is full of Pittsburgh Steeler jerseys these days as students, staff and parents await a repeat match on the basketball court. On March 20, at 7 p.m., Poland staff members will again take on the NFL team members in a game to raise funds for the school and PTO.
''They were here in 2012, and they packed the house,'' Mike Masucci, Union principal, said.
The 2012 game, like this year's game, is used as a fundraiser for the Union PTO and for the building itself. Masucci said it can support technical upgrades or provide programs for the students. In 2012, the game brought in nearly $8,000.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Poland Union first-grader Nico Genova and third-grader Logan Flament are eager for the arrival of the second meeting of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Poland staff basketball game, set for March 20 at the high school field house. Flament is holding the signed basketball from the 2012 game when the Steelers beat the Poland Union staff by 30 points.
Masucci made contact with the Steelers and again set up a game. The team committed to providing six current or former players. Two days after he received the contract from the Steelers, he had already sold 200 tickets to the event.
''I have 2,000 tickets to sell and I intend to sell every one of them,'' he said.
In 2012, the Poland staff roster included nearly everyone from Union. Masucci said everyone got a chance to play, but in the end, Pittsburgh won by 30 points. This year may be a different ball game.
''This year we will be a little more competitive,'' Masucci said. ''This time our team comes from every one of our buildings and from the community.''
He said the roster could include some of the coaching staff from Poland athletic teams. In any case, Masucci plans to narrow the gap on the scoreboard and maybe even win this time.
The game will be a regulation basketball game consisting of four-8 minute quarters. Autographed merchandise will be raffled off at half time and there will be a 50/50 raffle as well. The Steelers' players will also be signing autographs for spectators.
In 2012, the Pittsburgh players autographed a basketball that is displayed in Union's trophy case. Third grader Logan Flament had a chance to hold it and check out the names on Friday.
''I missed the first game,'' he said, ''but I already have the tickets for this game.''
Masucci said the success of the event will allow him to cancel his annual ''Principal's Findraiser.''
''I have decided that this event will take the place of the building's spring fundraiser,'' he said.
Tickets officially went on sale at Poland Union Feb. 18 and can be purchased at the school's main office. A visit to the office may bring a chance meeting of Masucci, who is pumped for the game and may be a little too confident.
On a letter to parents about the game, Masucci wrote, ''I will miss several jump shots because I do not want the Steeler players to become intimidated.''