The Holy Goalie: A Bishop's Experience

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Bishop Thomas Paprocki is the head of the diocese of Springfield, IL. An athlete at heart he has run numerous marathons and is an accomplished hockey goalie.

He is also a coach. He coaches the goalies for the Sacred Heart-Griffin High School hockey team in Springfield.

He is the author of Holy Goals for Body and Soul. An outstanding book I highly recommend.

I met His Excellency a few years ago and we've been working together ever since.

He was gracious enough to share his experiences with SportsLeader in a recent letter.

Virtue = Strength, 
Lou Judd 
SportsLeader Strength for Life Manual to Teach Virtue


This book makes a great gift for coaches and athletes alike.


Dear Bishops and Catholic School Leaders,

I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about our experience with a program called SportsLeader.

The program is a non-profit 501c3 run by lay Catholics. It was founded in 2004 by Joe Lukens of Cincinnati, OH and Paul Passafiume of Louisville, KY.

SportsLeader’s main focus is the coach. They view coaches as the primordial youth ministers of today, the true sports leaders. They are currently working with over 1,000 coaches throughout the USA and Canada.

SportsLeader helps form, inspire and train the coaches who in turn motivate, form, train and inspire the athletes to more involved with their faith.

It is a win-win.


Bishop Paprocki on the ice. He has had the opportunity to practice with the Chicago Blackhawks.


I first invited them to come to Springfield for a meeting with coaches and administrators who might be interested in giving SportsLeader a try. My initial hope was that we would have 2-3 coaches volunteer to come.

I am thrilled to say that we had representatives from all seven of our high schools. Most were Principals and head coaches but also some chaplains, faith formation directors, etc.

Everyone very quickly and enthusiastically agreed that we should move forward.

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L to R - Dwight Stephenson, Bishop Thomas Paprocki, Lou Judd.


We then set up a diocesan-wide training to begin this effort. Coaches and administrators from all seven high schools came together to learn how to integrate virtue, mentoring ceremony and Catholic Identity into their teams.

I myself am a coach with the Sacred Heart-Griffin boys hockey team. We have been able to integrate two aspects of the SportsLeader program thus far this season and they were very well received by coaches and players alike.

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Coaches from the seven Catholic high schools of the diocese of Springfield, IL.


I am happy to announce that many of our teams at our different schools are embracing the program and moving forward slowly but steadily.

We have a number of other events planned now to continue bringing our coaches and athletes closer to Christ through the avenue of sports.


Imagine having your Bishop as your coach.


I highly recommend you contact SportsLeader and see how they can help you in your diocese as well.

Their web site is

Lou Judd, director of the program, can be reached at 859.512.2572 or via email at

[email protected].

Thank you so much for your time and consideration and may God bless you,

Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki

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