Will The SportsLeader Program Make a Real Impact At My School?

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Helping Catholic institutions strengthen their Catholic Identity is one of our strengths.

This testimonial shows how we are transforming the culture of sports.

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SportsLeader 

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Faith, Family and Football

By Jenn Lyke

Just as biological families stand on the shoulders of prior generations, Althoff Catholic proudly stands on the legacy of its heritage schools: Central Catholic, Cathedral, St. Henry’s Seminary, St. Teresa Academy, Notre Dame Academy and Assumption.

Assumption Catholic High School in East St. Louis is the most recent of the Heritage Schools to close its doors. Graduating in 1989, Vernon Slaughter is a proud member of Assumption’s last graduating class. His son, Jordyn, is a current senior at Althoff Catholic.

In many ways, Jordyn’s high school career parallels that of his father. As football players, the Slaughters share the experience of being stand-out players for Catholic high schools with strong football programs. In his time at Assumption, Vernon played fullback, defensive back and quarterback. Jordyn plays offensive tackle and left tackle. Like his dad, Jordyn also plays basketball at Althoff Catholic. “Vernon was a real star for Assumption in football, basketball and baseball,” said Coach Schott. Jordyn accepted an offer to play for Lovie Smith at the University of Illinois on Father’s Day Weekend, making an already special holiday for the father-son duo even more memorable.

For Jordyn and Vernon, the bond they share over football is just the tip of the iceberg. “Every day my dad tells me to keep God first,” said Jordyn. “With all the things we have been through, especially my mom’s breast cancer diagnosis last year, I wanted to question God but I knew that was not right.” Jordyn has always had a special relationship with his mother. Seeing her fight through cancer treatments and surgeries strengthened their bond. “Sometimes my dad would be at work when my mom was struggling after a treatment or a surgery so I was there for her and that made us grow even closer. My mom would also remind my sister and me how important we are to each other as siblings which also made us grow closer through her cancer experience.”

Those who known Vernon know that he has no trouble expressing the love he has for his family. “My dad is very open about how much he loves us,” said Jordyn. “He makes posts on Facebook about it and I know he is very thankful for what we have. He is a great role model.”

The Slaughters appreciate the small, family-like environment that Althoff offers. “Althoff has embraced our family from the beginning as if we were theirs,” said Vernon. For the Slaughters, Althoff Catholic’s newly introduced SportsLeader program is an extension of what they believe in as a family. Based upon the four pillars of virtue, ceremony, mentoring and Catholic identity, SportsLeader is designed to build character and instill a sense of purpose and deeper meaning in the school’s sports programs.

Jordyn believes the SportsLeader program is helping the team grow as individuals, as a team and in their relationships with their individual families. “We pray more and focus on our faith. The videos and stories that go along with the virtues of the week help us focus on what is important and understand things better,” said Jordyn.

Along with the virtue of the week, SportsLeader incorporates two ceremonies: The Dad’s Jersey Ceremony and Mom’s Letter Ceremony. “The father-son ceremony was the best thing ever. I tell my son I love him all day every day,” said Vernon. “The ceremony was a great bonding experience. To hear the stories of all the other players and their dads brought me to tears. I hope this new tradition continues. It is an important bonding experience.”

At Althoff Catholic, we pride ourselves on being a family-like environment. It is families like the Slaughters that help make our Althoff Catholic family great. “Jordyn is a great kid from a great family and he is a leader on the team,” said Coach Ken Turner. “He brings the family values he learns at home to the team. He is a great role model for the younger guys, and they respect him.”

In addition to playing football, Jordyn serves as an A.C.E. (Althoff Catholic Enrichment) Leader. A.C.E. Leaders run the freshmen orientation program and lead their groups through quarterly seminars in which the upperclassmen help freshmen transition into high school. In the community, Jordyn is a member of the Phi Beta Sigma Club, an organization for sons of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity members. At the University of Illinois, Jordyn plans to pursue a journalism major.

Jordyn Slaughter