Opened on October 1, 1956 by Bishop Louis B. Kucera, Pius X High School was
established as the central Catholic high school for the city of Lincoln and
the Diocese of Lincoln. Since its earliest years, Pius has grown to over
1,000 students in grades 9-12, with over 70 faculty and staff made up of both
religious and lay people. When the school was named after Pope St. Pius X,
it took its patron’s motto, "To restore all things in Christ", as its
guiding mission. This mission is evident in the academic opportunities and
the variety of activities (clubs, athletics, and organizations) offered to
The Birth of the 'BOLT By Msgr.
Since I am the sole survivor of the foursome that was
responsible for the naming of the Pius X identifying mascot, The
Thunderbolts, I feel it necessary to put into writing that which
I have shared over the years, but only verbally.
This happened early in September of 1956. The football team
had already unanimously accepted the colors for this new school
on East A Street in Lincoln. Green, Gold and White … and not
just any green, it was “Forest” green … these identifying colors
would adorn the athletic uniforms as well as band and academic
Early on it was evident that the school construction would
not allow beginning the new school year at the regularly
appointed date. A decision was made by the administration that
the official opening date (with only partial use of the
building) would be October 1 of that year.
The football team was revving up for the new school, the new
field and some new opponents. Coach Aldrich had wisely not
scheduled an opponent for the opening Friday. On that particular
Friday, Father Dan Kealy, Coach Aldrich, Bill Inbody (volunteer
coach) and I headed to Columbus to scout the St. Bonaventure
(now Scotus High) team since they were on the schedule for the
new football field. As we headed to the north-west it was very
evident that we were in for a late summer/early fall
thunderstorm with clouds beginning to grow to darken the sky.
Our school still had not been given a proper “nickname” or
mascot. Every creature under the sea, on the land or in the air
was proposed by faculty, pep club officers, athletes and the
general public. None had seemed appropriate for Pius X High
School, so the search continued and that was the subject of our
conversation in the car as we headed into what was surely to be
a rainy evening.
Father Kealy was an accomplished pilot, among his many other
abilities. I was in the process of working toward a pilot
license and was in the “ground school” meteorological portion of
those studies, so the turn of conversation to that stormy sky
was just a normal thing to do. Father Kealy talked about the
tremendous force of nature that was in a thunderhead, rising
thousands of feet into the sky. All of a sudden all of us in the
car focused in on a force of nature to properly let everybody
know the force of the student body of this new school. No, not
“thunderhead,” that just did not sound right – but, THUNDERBOLT
– that had a great sound to it. And then the student newspaper
could be THE FORECASTER, the annual THE THUNDERER, other aspects
of the school life could carry through the theme from there.
True to our expectations we did spend the evening in the
bleachers as the rain came down, not with a vengeance as in a
thunderstorm, but just enough to get us well soaked.
We returned to Lincoln, coach Aldrich and Bill Inbody were
all wrapped up in the coming game the next Friday. I returned to
my residence, went directly to the bookshelf and found my copy
of Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. I thumbed through the pages
until I came to page 1041 to find the word “Thunderbolt.” The
first definition was “A single discharge of lightning
with accompanying thunder.” What a great way to depict
the Thunderbolts – that bolt of lightning! And then came the
clincher: “A person or thing likened to lightning in
suddenness, effectiveness, and destructive power.” What
more could we possibly want?
I immediately phoned Fr. Kealy, read him the above, he in
turn called coach Aldrich -- and the next day it was official …
we were to be the Thunderbolts! That first football team was the
first to endorse the selection and that first game the public
learned of our decision, the rest is history -- and a very good
history to be sure.
P.S. The first game was broadcast over KFOR by Dick Perry.
During the first half he referred to our team as the “pea-ous ex
thunderbolts.” By half time a number of people had called the
station and asked that he be informed of the proper rendering of
the name and from that moment we became the Pius Tenth
Thunderbolts. Of course, it wasn’t long before the headlines
referred to us as the ‘BOLTS! By the way, the ‘Bolts beat
Syracuse by a score of 20 to 6 the next Friday. And, evidently
the scouting was a success; we beat St. Bonaventure later in the
year, 21 to 13.