Leaven Blog

Catholic school student-athletes in good hands with faith-filled coaches

by Todd Habiger

Archbishop Naumann scooped me!

In the Nov. 11 issue of The Leaven, the archbishop wrote about former Bishop Ward baseball coach Dennis Hurla and the impact he made both on and off that field at Bishop Ward.

He went on to say that “Dennis Hurla is emblematic of the outstanding teachers and coaches who staff our Catholic High Schools.”

For the past several months, I have been doing a feature exclusive to our website called “Team of the Week.” In this feature, I do a video report on various high school sports teams in the archdiocese. Over time, I’ve gotten to talk to some outstanding, faith-filled coaches.

In “Team of the Week” I focus mostly on the sport itself and the team’s hopes, dreams and challenges for the season. Because I’m trying to keep the feature under 5 minutes, I don’t spend a lot of time focusing on the faith aspect of sports — yet, it always comes up when I interview.

I must say I’ve been impressed with the quality of coaches I’ve interviewed so far. These are people of the highest moral fiber who care about their kids as people and students first and foremost.

The very first coach I talked to, Jermaine Monroe, the head football coach at Maur Hill-Mount Academy, spoke very eloquently about how he expected his young men to be leaders in the school and larger community as well as on the field.

When I interviewed Bishop Ward boys soccer coach Art Conejo, I had a heck of a time keeping him on the subject of his team. It’s evident that coach Conejo has a deep love for everything Bishop Ward. His favorite line had to be “It’s all about the kids.” For Conejo, soccer is a means to teach the kids about dealing with life through hard work and discipline. Wins and losses? Those were secondary.

At St. James Academy, volleyball head coach Nancy Dorsey spent more time talking about trying to build strong confident young women than she did about her seven state championships in 10 years at St. James. At one point, she grew choked up talking about the family-like atmosphere that exists among St. James volleyball alumni.

At Bishop Miege, head football coach Jon Holmes impressed me with how he embraces faith and football. “The best moment on Friday night is right before we get ready to take the field — we pause for a moment and say a prayer together, then go out and play,” Holmes said.

Is it any wonder that I’m confident our Catholic school student-athletes are in good hands?

To view the “Team of the Week” videos on these or other coaches, just click here.

About the author

Todd Habiger

Todd has been the production manager for The Leaven since 1995. Under his direction The Leaven has won multiple design awards from the Catholic Press Association. Prior to working at The Leaven, Todd was an award-winning writer for The Catholic Key newspaper in Kansas City, Mo. Todd is married to Lori Wood Habiger, a former Leaven employee herself. They have two children — Paige and Connor, and one dog — Joli.

Leave a Comment