Albert Ramocki didn’t know what Father Judge was until he started looking at schools when he was in eighth grade.
Now, it means everything to him.
Ramocki is a senior defender on the Father Judge High School soccer team, and for the past three years he’s been a starter for the Crusaders tough defense that has helped them be one of the top teams in the Catholic League during that time frame.
But prior to sixth grade, Ramocki lived in Poland near the border with Ukraine. Then he moved to Feasterville, and was looking at staying local for high school when he started looking at Judge.
“It was good because I was at lunch talking to my friend (Brooks Henderson) and he told me he was looking at Judge and I told him I was, too,” Ramocki said. “It helped a lot that I had him going, too. He’s a good baseball player. We were two suburban guys going to a school with all of the city people.
“Really, after getting to Judge and meeting everyone, it didn’t take long for me to fit right in and become a Judge guy. The upperclassmen took us all under their wings, and that’s what we try to do for the younger players. It’s a tradition here and it’s why when you come here, it’s easy to find friends. You become brothers.”
This year, Ramocki and his brothers have a lot to be proud of.
The Crusaders were the top team in the Catholic League and for the second straight year advanced to the Catholic League championship game, where Judge fell to Archbishop Ryan in penalty kicks.
Judge then went on to represent the Catholic League in the district championship where it beat Northeast 2-0, earning a spot in the state playoffs.
Judge won its opener, knocking off West Chester Henderson in penalty kicks, but then fell to Parkland 2-1 in a state quarterfinal on Saturday at Upper Perkiomen.
The campaign might not have produced a championship, but considering the Crusaders were the top team during the regular season in an incredibly tough Catholic League, made the league championship game and then the state quarterfinal, it was a very successful season.
“It’s fun to play the best, it gives us great competition and it makes us work harder,” Ramocki said. “Most times, it’s a different type of game when you play in states. It gives you a taste of winning when you beat a stronger team. It makes us better as players and teammates. During a big game, there are obstacles. We work as a team with the coaches and strive for the win.”
Ramocki was a huge part of the Crusaders’ success.
As a starting centerback, he worked with the other defenders to stymie opposing offenses, and that put the Crusaders in position to win a lot of games.
Judge’s defense recorded 13 shutouts and gave up just 10 goals in 23 games. Five of those games went overtime, which means the defense made things very tough on opposing offenses.
And as much as Ramocki was a huge part of that, he passed a lot of the praise on to his teammates.
“I would give credit to all the other defenders, we all worked as a team, to keep not have any goals scored, keep the goal clear. They were a huge part of it,” Ramocki said. “We all worked as a team, and it was hard work and passion for the sport of soccer. And we were all playing for the name on our jerseys, Father Judge.”
Representing his school is something new for Ramocki.
He played soccer in Poland, but there players only represent their club team, not the school.
The games also didn’t draw as well there.
“Playing in league championship games are so much fun because of the crowd,” Ramocki said. “Last year we played La Salle and we were the underdogs, but we played great. I was very proud. This year, we played our rivals, Archbishop Ryan, and it was a great game. So many fans there. It didn’t go our way, but it’s great to play in big games like that.”
The big-game bug bit Ramocki this year, and it changed his plans for the future.
He was going to join his grandfather’s construction business, a job he now works as a helper during his downtime. He’ll still do that on the side, but now he wants to go to college.
His coach, John Dunlop, played a big factor in that decision, and it wasn’t just on the soccer field.
“I recently decided I wanted to go to college and play soccer,” Ramocki said. “I was going to get a job and start making money, but this year gave me so much passion for the sport. I lost it throughout the years and got it back at Judge with all my friends and brothers. I want to keep going and play soccer in college.
“I’m looking at accounting (as a possible major). I love numbers. And my coach teaches accounting. He’s helped me so much. Great coach, great teacher, great mentor, great person, he’s a friend. He’s done a lot for me. The team has done a lot for me.”
And while he’s looking forward to the future, he’s very happy he had a great career at Judge.
“I think we had a hard-fought season,” Ramocki said. “We didn’t get a PCL championship, but we got a district championship and made the state quarterfinals. I think it’s pretty good for a private school from Philly.
“We wanted to go further, but it doesn’t’ always go the way you want. The season ended today and I’m really proud of what we did. We had a great season.”