August 10, 2012

The spirit of sports

‘The 50 best things about CYO sports’ celebrates a great tradition in the archdiocese

Smiles, sunshine and snapshots mark the festivities following the Catholic Youth Organization’s All-City Cross Country meet in 2011. CYO executive director Ed Tinder congratulates Katherine Free, a runner from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Indianapolis, during the post-race celebration. (Submitted photo/Kent Hughes)

Smiles, sunshine and snapshots mark the festivities following the Catholic Youth Organization’s All-City Cross Country meet in 2011. CYO executive director Ed Tinder congratulates Katherine Free, a runner from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Indianapolis, during the post-race celebration. (Submitted photo/Kent Hughes) Click for a larger version.

By John Shaughnessy

As another school year starts, so does another year of CYO sports—a tradition in the archdiocese that many Catholics consider a major part of their educational experience.

In celebration of that tradition of the Catholic Youth Organization, The Criterion offers this list of “The 50 Best Things about CYO Sports.” (Feel free to add your own favorite things.)

  1. Prayers before and after games.
  2. The smell of popcorn in a gym.
  3. Playing time for everyone.
  4. More than 20,000 participants on 1,500 teams in 14 sports for boys and girls.
  5. “Lucky” rituals, including one by a football player who wore his “lucky” Halloween pajamas under his uniform during games because every time he did his team won.
  6. Teaching the fundamentals of a sport.
  7. Teaching the fundamentals of life: teamwork, commitment and respect.
  8. A player asking a coach at the end of a game, ‘Did we win?”
  9. Girls putting ribbons in their hair before a kickball game.
  10. Teams wearing their uniforms at Mass and getting blessings from the priest and prayers from the congregation.
     
  11. The price of admission is usually free or a few bucks at most.
  12. More than 7,000 volunteers.
  13. A coach declaring, “Everything we do is to honor and serve the Lord.”
  14. A referee who asks a basketball coach at the end of the regular season, “Who on your team hasn’t scored yet this year?” and then makes sure that player gets a chance to score when it doesn’t affect the outcome of the game.
  15. Teammates rejoicing together after a special win.
  16. Teammates consoling each other after a tough loss.
  17. Teammates walking off a field or a court together with their arms around each other.
  18. Concession stands.
  19. Getting money from your parents to spend at the concession stand.
  20. The “follow your own drummer” player who gets a hot dog and nachos at the concession stand 10 minutes before a game.
     
  21. A crowd erupting in cheers when a player makes her first basket ever in a game.
  22. Priests who show up at games to cheer for their parish teams.
  23. Dads and moms telling their children that they’re proud of them.
  24. Coaches who believe in players.
  25. Coaches who believe in the potential of each child as someone who makes a difference to their families, friends and others.
  26. A coach becoming a father figure or a mother figure to a child who doesn’t have one.
  27. When the kickball team at one parish held a fundraiser so the kickball team at another parish could participate in the sport.
  28. Running special plays so every child gets to feel part of the team.
  29. Knowing that the success of Catholic high school sports teams in the archdiocese directly reflects the tradition and quality of coaching that players get at the CYO level.
  30. Leaving the gym after a “Christmas holiday” basketball tournament game to see snow starting to fall.
     
  31. Getting a “personal best” time at a track or a cross country meet.
  32. Giving a child the experience of playing a sport.
  33. Giving a child confidence.
  34. Team parents.
  35. Co-ed soccer teams.
  36. Volunteer coaches arranging their work schedules so they can get to their team’s game on the other side of the city during rush hour.
  37. A player getting a high-five or a hug from an older sibling.
  38. The searing intensity of playing kickball on the south side of Indianapolis.
  39. Prayers before and after practices.
     
  40. Riding to games in a car or van packed with teammates.
  41. Making the sign of the cross before stepping into the batter’s box or taking a foul shot.
  42. Getting the opportunity to practice Catholic principles—such as forgiving others and praying for the souls of others—when the occasional opposing coach does something that instinctively makes you picture him in a fiery setting operated by a guy with a pitchfork.
  43. Coaches who take the time and the interest to ask their players, “How are you doing in school?”
  44. The feeling a coach gets when a former player stops, smiles and talks to him or her years later.
  45. Former players who grow up to coach CYO sports because they had such a great experience when they played.
  46. End-of-the-season team parties.
  47. End-of-the-season team parties when parents play their children in the sport—and learn the game isn’t as easy as it looks from the stands.
  48. Realizing the wisdom of a coach who said, “Playing CYO is probably more important for the kids who won’t get to play in high school. This is their chance to understand what sports is about, and how it builds character.”
  49. Having fun.
  50. Making friends and creating memories—some that last a lifetime.

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!