Kevin Colbert will never forget the one time he had the privilege to meet Steelers’ founder Art Rooney Sr., fondly known as “The Chief.” When he was introduced, Rooney asked Colbert a simple question, but one that he will always be proud of how he was able to answer.
“The first question he asked me is, ‘Where are you from?’” remembered Colbert. “I was very proud to say the North Side. He was proud to hear that as well.”
Colbert, the Steelers’ general manager, genuinely takes great pride in being from the North Side. And on Thursday night he was even prouder to be inducted into the North Side Hall of Fame, along with former NFL official Jerry Bergman, at the 15th Annual Gala Pittsburgh Sports Night at Heinz Field.
Colbert has seen the way the North Side has developed, from the time Three Rivers Stadium was built, to Heinz Field and PNC Park, to all of the growth around the entire area.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Colbert, who was presented for induction by Art Rooney II. “It’s special. Sometimes I get a little upset when people say the North Shore because to me it will always be the North Side. I am old enough to know when this stadium wasn’t here. I saw Three Rivers Stadium get built and torn down. A lot of changes occurred and more will have to continue to occur to keep it vibrant and these types of things alive.”
While the induction of Colbert and Bergman were a highlight of the night, the real meaning for the event was to help continue the tradition of strong Catholic education on the North Side. The proceeds from the event, which has raised over $1 million in its 15 years, benefits Northside Catholic School.
“I was here from the very beginning, when we started this in 1998 with Dan Rooney and (former Pirates owner) Kevin McClatchy,” said Dr. Robert Paserba, Secretary for Catholic Education for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. “We sat down and said we have to make sure Catholic education remains on the North Side as long as we are around. And 15 years later we have Catholic education with a wonderful school and we are thrilled about that.”
Colbert attended Catholic schools growing up, including North Catholic High School which he continues to be involved with. He understands the importance of being able to offer a faith-based education to everyone.
“You have to have alternatives to public education,” said Colbert. “There are a lot of fine public schools, but to teach the faith and keep it alive it’s a struggle because financially it can be a burden to some families. We have to make sure we do everything to keep the opportunities alive that we have had.”
Current and former Steelers players were also on hand at the event, signing autographs for those in attendance and doing their part to help the cause.
“Having the opportunity to go to a Catholic school was a big help for me and molded me into the person I am today,” said rookie punter Drew Butler, who attended Catholic grade school. “It’s good to be able to give back to everybody here now. Any way we can help we enjoy doing it.”
Butler was joined by teammates Baron Batch, David Paulson, Kelvin Beachum, Jason Worilds and Will Allen, who was happy not just to be there to help out, but also to honor Colbert.
“It’s important to give back to local communities where you play and work,” said Allen. “I have a responsibility to do this as an athlete. A lot of people look up to us and like the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“And to help out Mr. Colbert and the school is really good. It’s an honor for him to be inducted. He has put a lot of work and time in. He is a good man and does a lot for the City of Pittsburgh and his alma mater, so it’s good.”
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