Coaching the Faith at the First Friday Club

On Thursday, January 3rd, we went to the First Friday Club of Cleveland to attend a program titled Coaching the Faith, featuring Coach Chuck Kyle and Coach Mike McLaughlin from St. Ignatius High School.  Both speakers were St. Ignatius graduates and Coach Kyle has been the school’s Head Football Coach since 1983 in addition to being the Head Track and Field Coach and an English Teacher. Coach McLaughlin has been the Head Soccer Coach since 1995 and has also served the school as the Chair of the Theology Dept. and Director of Sophomore Service.

During the program, Mr. George Wasmer (himself a St. Ignatius alumni who knew both coaches) acted as moderator and asked the coaches about the the role that their religious faith played in their lives and their coaching careers and how important were lessons learned by failure and injury for players. 

Both coaches were old friends who respected each other  (in fact Coach Kyle was a mentor to Coach McLaughlin when he was a student at St. Ignatius) and this came through in the course of the discussion. They contended that sports, indeed, can be an taxing exercise from both a mental and a spiritual standpoint as well as physical. Of course, despite the amount of effort and preparation, outcomes are not always what one would like them to be, but failures can be outstanding learning opportunities.

Above all, they emphasized that group exercise such as sports are excellent because they motivate the participants to look beyond themselves and put the welfare of their teammates first; such humility will prove invaluable to them later on in life as they assume leadership roles in a variety of career paths. What’s more, sports present the opportunity to develop the concept of service (which is emphasized in Christ’s teachings) and to form special relationships that have the potential to be lifelong.

In his introduction, Mr. Wasmer said that he hoped we would leave the luncheon on this day with more knowledge than we had when we arrived. To our way of thinking, his wish was granted because; even though we ourselves are not big sports fans, we believed that what was said by Coach Kyle and Coach McLaughlin could apply to all sorts of extra-curricular activities (and the coaches acknowledged this too) such as theatre arts, debate, and music.