Relatively few people associate Georgetown Preparatory School as a boarding school, but the North Bethesda school’s opening of a new football stadium hearkened back to the all-male school’s foundations. Founded in 1789 by Bishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the United States, Georgetown Prep did not admit day students until the 1940s.

Dedicated on Nov. 5, the William V. Bidwill ’49 Stadium at historic Fegan-Galvin Field hosts Hoya football games, in addition to lacrosse and soccer matches. Bidwill, who died in 2019, was a Chicago-born boarding student at Prep and kicker and fullback on the varsity football team who later become owner of the St. Louis and Arizona Cardinals NFL team. The franchise started in Chicago and moved south to St. Louis before its 1988 move to its current Arizona home.

In the photo above, Jesuit Father James Van Dyke, the president of Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda, Maryland, is joined at right by Michael Bidwill, a 1983 graduate of Prep and the current owner of the Arizona Cardinals during the Nov. 5 blessing and dedication of the new William V. Bidwill ’49 Stadium there, named for the late owner of the Cardinals NFL team who was an alumnus of the school. In the photo below, Father Van Dyke sprinkles holy water during the blessing of the new stadium. (Photos courtesy of Georgetown Preparatory School)

His son, Michael Bidwill, is the current Cardinals owner, and he attended Prep as a boarding student for his final two years of high school before graduating in 1983. Bidwill served on the Prep board for two terms and committed to paying for the stadium’s $8 million construction as a part of Georgetown Prep’s For the Greater Glory capital campaign.

“We love the school,” Bidwill told the Catholic Standard, speaking on behalf of his brothers Patrick, a 1985 Prep graduate, and Tim, a 1990 Prep graduate. 

Before a Mass offered for the varsity football team, the Bidwill family and a small group of alumni and friends of the school, Bidwill addressed the football team, as the celebrant of the Mass, Jesuit Father James Van Dyke, looked on. Bidwill told the boys to look after each other and take care of each other. 

“He (our father) always said, ‘Be forgiving, be kind, be generous, and be loyal,’” which meant to be a gentleman, Bidwell said at the Chapel of Our Lady.

In conjunction with a $20 million anonymous donation and the capital campaign, Prep officials decided to revisit dormitory living they offer their boarding students, who account for about 25 percent of the school’s 500 students. The school hired Manhattan Construction Co. as its general contractor.

During a tour of the new building and the stadium, Father Van Dyke, Prep’s president, explained that Boland Hall, where boarding students have lived on the 93-acre campus, does not occupy the social center of campus as it formerly did. Building a new Campus Center and Residence Hall, which are costing about $60 million, enabled the school to revisit residential life and build a space with 90 rooms that not only has more modern plumbing and more reliable access to Wifi, but also a living space that is more at the center of campus life and is communal, where students can live, gather, and study. 

Among other features, the Residence Hall includes study rooms, communal kitchen spaces, and an assembly hall that can accommodate 140 students.   

Historic Fegan-Galvin Field pays tribute to Prep’s longtime former football coach, Jim Fegan, who patrolled the sidelines from 1961 to 1996, compiling a record of 409 wins and 149 losses, with 14 Interstate Athletic Conference titles and nine undefeated seasons. In 1996, Coach Fegan was succeeded by Coach Dan Paro, a 1979 alumnus who continues to guide the program. The late Jesuit Father Aloysius Galvin, also honored, served for 37 years at Prep, from 1970 to 2007, where he taught mathematics and was a beloved chaplain to the football team. 

On Nov. 5, new William V. Bidwill ’49 Stadium was blessed and dedicated at Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda. Among the honored guests was Jim Fegan, the retired former longtime football coach at Georgetown Prep who stands at center in the back row, joined by his family members at the school’s new stadium by a bronze plaque that honors Coach Fegan and the late Jesuit Father Aloysius Galvin, a longtime chaplain for the school’s football team. Georgetown Prep’s field was dedicated to Coach Fegan and Father Galvin in 2005 as the Historic Fegan-Galvin Field. (Photo courtesy of Georgetown Preparatory School)

True to the school’s Jesuit identity, the field has the initials “AMDG,” which stands for the Latin “Ad Majorem Dei Gloria,” which means “For the Greater Glory of God,” the Jesuit motto. 

One banner inside the Chapel of Our Lady read, “Men for Others,” a motto used by former Jesuit Superior General Father Pedro Arrupe. After Mass, the students prayed the Memorare and another prayer, as they prepared for their homecoming football game that afternoon against St. Albans, before which they would get to see their new locker rooms for the first time.

When asked by The Standard whom he considered Prep’s main rivals, Fegan said, “Everybody.” Coach Fegan has not missed a Prep varsity football game since 1961.

The turf field at the new William V. Bidwill ’49 Stadium at Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda, Maryland, has the initials “AMDG,” which stands for the Latin phrase “Ad Majorem Dei Gloria,” which means “For the Greater Glory of God,” the Jesuit motto. (Photo courtesy of Georgetown Preparatory School)