Golden Tate’s impact on Pope Prep endures through scholarship fund  

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Golden Tate leaves a trail of Ryan defenders in his wake on one of his three touchdowns in the game. Tennessee Register file photo by Rick Musacchio

Golden Tate is athletic royalty at Pope John Paul II Preparatory School. 

The 2007 graduate dazzled on the football field, the baseball diamond and the track for the Knights before heading to the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, where he won the Fred Biletnikoff Award recognizing him as the top wide receiver in college football in the 2009 season. The next step was a 12-year career in the National Football League with the Seattle Seahawks, with whom he won the Super Bowl, the Detroit Lions, the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Giants, and the Tennessee Titans. He recently returned to his childhood love — baseball — to play with the Port Angeles Lefties.

Despite all that athletic success, Golden hasn’t forgotten the people at Pope Prep who helped shape him as a person, lending his name and popularity to help the school raise money for its financial assistance programs. 

“The Catholic education I received at Pope helped form me into the man I am today. I will forever cherish the lifelong relationships I built throughout my time at Pope,” Tate said in a 2016 interview. “Without my faith in God, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Appreciate life, appreciate what God gave you.”

Pope Prep offers the option of need-based financial aid to all families, including through the Golden Tate Scholars Fund, which Golden helped establish at the school in 2016.

“Golden is really committed to helping make the Pope Prep experience available to all those potential Knights interested in attending his alma mater,” said Michelle Barber, director of advancement at Pope Prep.

“I knew that Golden Tate was an alum and I knew he cared about the school deeply, so I sent him a message and he wrote me back almost immediately,” Barber said. “We spoke for an hour and a half one night in the fall of 2015 and by the end of the phone call we’d crafted these ideas of a financial aid fund (The Tate Scholars Fund) and the Golden Tate Athletic Skills Clinic.” 

The clinic became a weekend event with a dinner on Friday night and the clinic, featuring Golden and some of his friends from college and the NFL, on Saturday morning. The NFL even underwrote the clinics and sent supplies, merchandise, and food to help support it. Golden also donated two NFL tickets each year to his games to be auctioned off and the funds would be placed into the scholarship fund. He continues to support the fund annually, even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The fund allows students to come to our school who otherwise would not have been able to do so,” said Barber. “Other donors who are inspired by Golden’s generosity also sponsor the Tate Scholars Fund annually. Through the many generous sponsorships and direct donations, the Tate Scholars Fund significantly impacts financial aid offerings each year. Those funds increase our ability to meet the financial aid needs present in our school community. Each year, with input from faculty and staff, deserving students are named as Tate Scholars.” 

Golden’s teachers remember him fondly. Jj Ebelhar was the choral director at Pope Prep until her retirement in 2014 and she recalls how hard Golden worked. At that time, the school required three years of fine arts classes and Golden eagerly embraced the choral program for all four years. She, like the other staff, are proud of the man Golden has grown into. 

“My classes were very demanding. It wasn’t an easy A,” said Ebelhar. “He can testify to that. He didn’t have to join or stay in choir, but I really believe he liked challenges and knew it was a very successful group to be a part of. 

“Golden never acted entitled,” she added. “I watched him at Notre Dame and professionally, and it was a very special thing to see someone like him excel. He has touched so many boys and girls by giving up his time so generously. It means the world to all of the current teachers, as well as those who taught him.” 

Anyone interested in supporting the Tate Scholars Fund can email Michelle Barber at

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