By John KNebels
Special to The CS&T
Trying to encompass all that Mark “Rep” Siefer has meant to the St. Margaret’s community in a few hundred words is like attempting to pour a gallon of water into a pint-sized glass.
This past Saturday, the folks at St. Margaret’s tried to do likewise in a ceremony that honored Siefer for the tremendous work he has done while coaching CYO football for the past 25 years and baseball for the past 18.
More than 250 people attended the lavish affair inside St. Margaret’s gymnasium. The event included several guest speakers, certificate and trophy awards and a DVD presentation. The committee that organized the celebration somehow managed to keep everything secret.
“I got there and was handed a program that had my name on it,” said Siefer. “I looked up and said, ‘Hey. This has my name on it.’ It wasn’t registering that this was for me. I looked out and see my brother (Steve) who lives in Chicago and gave out a yell.”
Then everyone yelled back, and a festive party that included his wife of 17 years, Debbie, his parents, seven younger siblings, former players and assistant coaches and a seemingly endless supply of friends was underway.
Asked to what extent he was overwhelmed, the affable Siefer acknowledged that it was difficult to describe.
“When people get up there and say nice things over and over,” said Siefer, “it’s a little hard to put into words what that means.”
As guest speaker Cardinal John Foley once said after receiving copious plaudits at an event celebrating Cardinal Dougherty High School’s 50th anniversary, it is “wonderful to be canonized without having to go through the inconvenience of dying first.”
Thank the Lord that Siefer, whose nickname of “Rep” stems from, according to St. Margaret’s head of marketing Anne Becker, his “method of slithering like a reptile among athletic competitions as a child,” is alive and well at the age of 53.
A 1973 graduate of Archbishop Carroll High School who attended St. Matthias grade school in Bala Cynwyd through sixth grade before graduating from St. Margaret’s, Siefer was lauded for how he not only coaches young players in sports, but more importantly, how he continues to support them in their other pursuits.
“I never met anyone who is so purely into something for the kids,” said Jeff Barker, whose sons, Sean and Mike, were both coached by Siefer and still enjoy a strong bond with him even though they are now in their 20s. “He’s a phenomenal role model. He’s so committed and so positive. I think the world of him.”
An alumnus of St. Joseph’s University, Siefer learned that he would be named to the CYO football Coaches Hall of Fame.
After testimonies that extolled Siefer for helping teach young men the “true meaning of the CYO program – respect, faith and sportsmanship,” it was apparent that sometimes it only takes a few words to tell the true meaning of a story.
Or, in the case of “Rep,” the true meaning of a really good man.