Cheering on your Catholic School Olympic Athletes

This article was contributed by Ryan Lombardozzi, NCEA Social Media Coordinator.

The summer Olympics, held every four years, gathers the most gifted athletes from each of their respective sports competing for their country to bring back ‘The Gold.’ From Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history with 25 medals (21 gold) spanning over three Olympic games to Townley Haas, winning his first ever gold medal in his first Olympic games, brings each and everyone of us to cheer for an individual, a team or simply an accomplishment.

This year, the summer Olympic games are being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team comprised of 554 athletes over 30 sports. Of these 554 athletes, there are a handful who come from Catholic schools, having benefited from the merits of a Catholic education and are making their families, communities, schools and nation proud of their hard work.

Townley Haas – Benedictine College Preparatory in Richmond, VA

Townley

Townley placed first in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay with Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Conor Dwyer – Haas’ time of 1:44.14 was the fastest split of any swimmer in the relay, and he also placed fifth in the men’s 200m freestyle.

I could not be more honored to have represented the U.S. with some of the greatest swimmers of all time! – Townley Haas

Katie Ledecky – Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart & Little Flower School in Bethesda, MD

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PHOTO COURTESY SCOTT WOLFSON, U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION

Not only is Ledecky a two-time Olympian previously winning a gold medal in the London 2012 Olympics, but she is also breaking world records – set by herself!

In the Rio 2016 Olympics, Katie placed first in women’s 200m freestyle, first in women’s 400m freestyle and second in women’s 4x100m freestyle relay. You can continue to watch Ledecky swim in the women’s 800m freestyle beginning Thursday, August 11.

Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky says her Catholic faith helps her ‘put things in perspective’

Gold medal swimmer thanks nuns for her success

Olympic Gold Medalist Opens Up About Catholic Faith

Kelly Murphy – Joliet Catholic Academy in Joliet, IL

You can watch Kelly play in Pool B as the U.S. Women’s Volleyball team takes on Italy August 12 and China on August 14. They are currently undefeated beating the Netherlands 3-2, Puerto Rico 3-0 and Serbia 3-1

Wheaton St. Francis' Morgan Butler (11) and Kelsey Robinson (7) battle Joliet Catholic's Kelly Murphy (5) during the Spartans' win in supersectional Monday, Nov. 5, 2007 in Wheaton, IL. (Chicago Tribune Photo by Scott Strazzante)

Wheaton St. Francis’ Morgan Butler (11) and Kelsey Robinson (7) battle Joliet Catholic’s Kelly Murphy (5) during the Spartans’ win in supersectional Monday, Nov. 5, 2007 in Wheaton, IL.
(Chicago Tribune Photo by Scott Strazzante)

In an interview with Christine Scheibe, Joliet Catholic Academy English teacher and head girls’ volleyball coach, had the following to say about Kelly:

Before every match we would visualize and pray the Guardian Angel Prayer. As a captain, she was someone who led the prayer and it was one of the first signs of Kelly showing her leadership through Christ.

In reference to the meaning of the Olympics, Coach Scheibe reflects, “For her it is a dream come true. She always made it clear that she wanted to continue playing volleyball as long as she could and she had her sights set on the Olympics from the very beginning. Our school is extremely proud of her accomplishments. She is following in the footsteps of other great alumni athletes such as Mike Alstott who played in the NFL, Bill Gullickson who pitched in the major leagues, and Jim Stefanich who was a pro bowler and pro golfer. Joliet Catholic Academy had one other athlete to make the Olympics, swimmer Dave Sims, but he was not able to participate due to the U.S. boycotting the Olympics in Russia.”

 

Joliet Catholic girls volleyball players live faithfully by the saying, ‘Once an Angel, always and Angel.’ But if Kelly Murphy switches up the theme for a couple of weeks in August… well, she’s got a pretty good reason. Because in her case she can say, “Once an Angel, now an Olympian.

Missy Franklin – Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, CO

Photo attributed to http://www.teamusa.org/usa-swimming/athletes/Missy-Franklin

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

Previously in the London 2012 Olympics, Franklin won the gold in women’s 200m backstroke, 100m backstroke, 4x200m freestyle relay, 4x100m medley relay and won bronze in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

In the Rio 2016 Olympics, Missy received a gold for the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay, 12th in the women’s 200m freestyle and will be competing in the Women’s 200m backstroke beginning Thursday, August 11.

Kerri Walsh Jennings – Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, CA

Photo attributed to http://www.teamusa.org/usa-volleyball/athletes/Kerri-Walsh

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

Walsh is competing in her fifth Olympics! Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and now Rio 2016. This decorated volleyball player had previously placed fourth in the U.S. women’s indoor team in 2000 before she became the phenom she is now on the beach volleyball scene. In 2004, Walsh and Misty May-Treanor won gold in women’s beach volleyball without losing a set. In 2008 and 2012, Walsh and May-Treanor continued their winning streak – 32 consecutive wins before losing only one set – to repeat gold medals in Beijing and London.

Kerri Walsh Jennings and her beach volleyball partner April Ross are currently undefeated in Pool C of the Rio 2016 Olympics beating China 2-0, Australia 2-0 and Switzerland 2-1.

Amanda Polk – Oakland Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, PA

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

Amanda has placed first in her women’s coxed eight heat with a time of 6:06.34.

Two alumnae from Pittsburgh’s Oakland Catholic High School will make a splash at the Rio 2016 Olympics

Leah Smith – Oakland Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, PA

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

Leah Smith won her first Olympic medal, the bronze, in the women’s 400-meter freestyle on August 7 and then proceeded to win the gold in the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay! You can continue to watch Smith compete in the women’s 800m freestyle Thursday, August 8.

Amanda and Leah are motivated, well-rounded, accomplished women who have soared to the top of their fields. They are great athletes and great leaders – shares Mary Claire Kasunic, Oakland Catholic High School President.

Oakland Catholic Swimmer Earns Olympic Medal

Kyle Snyder – Our Lady of Good-Counsel High School in Olney, MD

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

Kyle Snyder maintained a perfect 179-0 record during his time at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School before becoming the youngest American – in over 20 years – to win a FILA Junior World Championship in 2013 when he was only 19.

Kyle will compete Sunday, August 21 in the men’s freestyle 97 kg.

Olympic wrestler Kyle Snyder says his Catholic faith helps him grapple with the pressure of competing

Jack Conger – Our Lady of Good-Counsel High School in Olney, MD

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

At Our Lady of Good-Counsel, Conger broke a 30 year old national high school record in the 500-yard freestyle by three seconds.

In Rio 2016, Conger earned a gold medal by competing in the men’s 4x200m Relay as the third leg in the event’s preliminary round.  Conger swam the relay’s fastest split in the preliminary round at 1:45.73.

Sydney McLaughlin – Union Catholic Regional High School in Scotch Plains, NJ

EUGENE, OR - JULY 07: Sydney McLaughlin competes in the Women's 400 Meter Hurdles during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on July 7, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Sydney McLaughlin competes in the women’s 400 Meter Hurdles during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on July 7, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Making her Olympic debut at 16 years old, she is the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field team. She says she prays during every warm-up and then relies on God to remember that she has been given this great talent and to use it.

Sydney will compete in the women’s 400m hurdles on Monday, August 15.

Joe Maloy – Wildwood Catholic High School in North Wildwood, NJ

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

My Wildwood Catholic teachers, coaches and classmates taught me what it meant to have faith, to work for ideals, and to use that work to make the world a little better.

Joe will run in the men’s Individual Triathlon on Thursday, August 18.

Kelsey Robinson – St. Francis High School in Wheaton, IL

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

You can watch Kelsey play in Pool B as the U.S. women’s Volleyball team takes on Italy on August 12 and China on August 14. They are currently undefeated beating the Netherlands 3-2, Puerto Rico 3-0 and Serbia 3-1.

Elena Delle Donne – Ursuline Catholic Girls Academy in Wilmington, DE

Photo attributed to Getty Images

Photo attributed to Getty Images

The U.S. women’s basketball team remains undefeated in Group B after taking down Spain 103-63, Senegal 121-56 and Serbia 110-84.

You can continue to watch the U.S. women’s basketball team play Canada on Friday August 12 and China on Sunday, August 14.

Carmello Anthony – Towson Catholic High School in Towson, MD

Photo attributed to USA TODAY Sports

Photo attributed to USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. men’s basketball team remains undefeated in Group A after beating Venezuela 113-69, China 119-62 and Australia 98-88.

You can continue to watch the U.S. men’s team play Serbia on Friday August 12 and France on Sunday, August 14.

Klay Thompson – Santa Margarita Catholic High School in in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA

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Photo attributed to NBCOlympics

The U.S. men’s basketball team remains undefeated in Group A after beating Venezuela 113-69, China 119-62 and Australia 98-88.

You can continue to watch the U.S. men’s team play Serbia on Friday August 12 and France on Sunday, August 14.

Ryan Held – Sacred Heart-Griffin High School

This photo is attributed to teamusa.org

This photo is attributed to teamusa.org

In Ryan Held’s Olympic debut in Rio he earned a gold medal by competing in the men’s 4x100m Relay alongside Michael Phelps, Nathan Adrian and Caeleb Dressel.

Sue Bird – Christ the King Regional High School

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

The U.S. women’s basketball team remains undefeated in Group B after taking down Spain 103-63, Senegal 121-56 and Serbia 110-84.

You can continue to watch the U.S. women’s basketball team play Canada on Friday August 12 and China on Sunday, August 14.

Gunnar Bentz – St. Pius X in Atlanta GA

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

In Rio 2016, Bentz earned his first Olympic gold medal by competing in the men’s 4x200m Relay in the event’s preliminary round.

Connor Dwyer – Loyola Academy in Wilmette IL.

Dwyer_Conor_150x250

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

Connor won gold in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay and bronze in the men’s 200m freestyle.

Brett Bonanni – Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana CA.

Bonanni_Bret_150x250

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

The U.S. men’s water polo team beat Italy 10-7 and France 6-3.

McQuin Baron – Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana CA.

Baron_McQuin_150x250

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

The U.S. men’s water polo team beat Italy 10-7 and France 6-3.

Thomas Dunstan – Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana CA.

Dunstan_Thomas_150x250

Photo attributed to teamusa.org

The U.S. men’s water polo team beat Italy 10-7 and France 6-3.

If you would like to contribute to the list of Olympic athletes who share their Catholic faith while participating in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, please email Ryan Lombardozzi at RLombardozzi@ncea.org.