December 18, 2020

Award winner’s biggest victory: leading others to Christ

By John Shaughnessy

Scott SannemanWhen Scott Sanneman is asked about his favorite part of coaching, he says, “Honestly, the wins were pretty great.”

He then shares how he helped his son Shane and his friends to a Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) city championship in boys’ basketball when he coached them in their eighth-grade year at St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis.

Still, the more Sanneman talks about the members of that team, the more it becomes clear that winning also has a deeper meaning for the father of three.

“It’s fun when you can see a group of kids grow from going to kindergarten together, to see their relationships grow. I actually coached those same kids through high school in CYO. I still see some of them. It’s interesting to hear them talk about what they’re doing in their lives and that they want to tell you about it.”

Building relationships is at the heart of Sanneman’s life and his concept of “winning.”

It’s been there in his 23 years of coaching track, cross country, soccer and boys’ and girls’ basketball.

It’s there in the time he served as the chairperson of St. Jude’s youth commission, as a chaperone for the parish’s teens at three National Catholic Youth Conferences (NCYC) in Indianapolis, and his involvement with parishioners in Christ Renew His Parish.

All that relationship-building has led to him becoming a recipient of a 2020 St. John Bosco Award, the highest honor the archdiocese’s CYO gives its volunteers.

Sanneman is also clear that his main emphasis in relationship-building is deepening the one he has with Jesus and helping others do the same.

“I know him as the closest friend I have,” he says. “Growing up Catholic, you grow that relationship, but you may not be that close. Christ Renews His Parish challenges you to take it to a new level, to let Jesus be your friend, to lean on him when you’re struggling. After attending Christ Renews His Parish, my faith grew a ton.”

That’s the hope he has for the players he coaches, the youths he chaperones, and for the children that he and his wife Wendy have—Madison, Shane and Tess.

“Just that they love Jesus,” he says. “To me, that’s the reason why you coach, why you do the things you do to help them go to NCYC.

“You want them to have that relationship with Jesus, that he is there for them at any time. You plant the seed and then Jesus and the Holy Spirit will help it grow. It’s neat to see how the youths can grow in their faith, that they can share their faith with others.” †


Related story: CYO presents the St. John Bosco Medal, it’s highest honor, to five individuals

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