This spring, Althoff Catholic High School has begun the roll-out of a new Catholic virtue-based formation program called SportsLeader. The program is built upon the four pillars of virtue, mentoring, ceremony and Catholic Identity. “Central to the SportsLeader program is a virtue of the week,” said Dave Harris. “I chose to implement the program as a way to build upon the faith formation we are already doing at our school and to further strengthen the character and team-building experiences of our athletic programs.” The SportsLeader program provides a set of materials related to the weekly virtue as well as guidelines and suggestions for implementing the other pillars of the program. This coming fall, the school will carry the virtue of the week into the classroom experience as well as with a daily 18-minute ‘Virtue Period,’ led by a teacher and an additional staff member.
In this story, we share the early experience of the girls’ varsity soccer team, their coaches and parents with the SportsLeader program.
The team incorporates the virtue of the week in prayer and discussions at practices and before games. According to assistant coach and Althoff Catholic alum, Kelsey Dinges ’11, the girls often express things going on in their lives and ask their teammates for prayer. “Althoff soccer has always been a community,” said Kelsey. “The activities we are doing through the SportsLeader program are helping us become more of a family.”
Through the stories, videos and subsequent discussions pertaining to the “virtue of the week,” the girls are getting to know one another better which is helping them support each other both on and off the field. “Our coaches inform us of the weekly virtue on Mondays. Throughout the week, they remind us of ways to live by that virtue,” said senior co-captain, Amanda Kaltwasser. “One week the virtue was ‘other-centered.’ Doing something as simple as remembering to hold the door for another person or asking them about their day is a way I put this virtue into practice.’”
Nicole Jones, senior co-captain also finds the virtue of the week to be a helpful reminder of the things that are most important in life. “Several weeks ago, the virtue was forgiveness,” said Nicole. “I use this virtue by not being negative or holding grudges against my teammates or classmates.”
Another pillar of the program is ceremony. At the beginning of the season, the team held the SportsLeader father-student jersey ceremony. Head Coach Juergen Huettner asked Jeff Jones, Nicole’s father, to be the first dad to present his daughter’s jersey. “This was a new experience for all of us,” said Jeff. “I wanted to make sure I did not disappoint or embarrass Nicole, while being open about my love for her. I was really appreciative of Juergen’s comments at the end of the ceremony regarding how he is embracing this new program.”
David Kaltwasser, Amanda’s father, also enjoyed the jersey ceremony. “This being Mandi’s senior year, I recognize this chapter of her life is coming to a close. The jersey ceremony was a unique opportunity to express my feelings of pride in all of her accomplishments,” said David. “It also allowed me the opportunity to let her know I am always here to support her.”
“I think with the temptations and influences of society it can be difficult to follow your Catholic values,” said Nicole. “With this program it is easier to focus on being a leader and embracing virtues with your team.” Amanda agrees that leadership is important for young people growing up in today’s society. “It is important for us to learn to be leaders,” said Amanda. “As we focus on virtues, being respectful and willing to work together we will help our world become a more loving place filled with hope, desire and bravery.”
As the saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child.” The pillars of the SportsLeader program will strengthen all aspects of the Althoff Catholic experience. Bringing students, parents, teachers and coaches together through this new program enables Althoff Catholic to achieve its mission of educating young people in the Catholic tradition to lead successful, faith-filled lives with a new focus and fervor.