Sports and Faith

The following article was contributed by Christopher Cosentino, president of  St. Maria Goretti High School in Hagerstown, Maryland. Join him live on October 19th at 4 PM or 7 PM EST where he will offer strategies and resources during his presentation, Soul of Youth Sports: The Coachable Athlete.

I fell in love with sports at a very young age and even though I was never the best player I loved being a part of a team.  My father was a player and lover of the game of baseball.  When his playing career ended, as it does for all of us at some point, he did what all lovers of sports do, he began coaching.  He wanted to share his love and passion of baseball to a younger generation.

He chose to offer my brother and myself the opportunity to learn the skills and mechanics to be better ball players. When he was a coach he always sat back and allowed other coaches to “draft” the players they thought would dominate.  He’d watch them coach to win as opposed to coaching young men how to play the game and respect the sport. When the dust settled, consistently the teams my dad coached outperformed and out played the other teams.  This of course left the other coaches scratching their heads.  They had the better players how could this be happening?  It was simple, the players on my dad’s teams were taught how to develop their skills, they were coached on the game and they had the heart to learn all they could not only to be better baseball players but to be better young men.  While I did not experience the success my father did, I worked to take that same approach when I had the opportunity to coach.

One of the most valuable things sports can teach is that life is not fair.  We are all given different pluses and minuses in life.  Some of us are given gifts and abilities while others have to fight and struggle to do the same tasks.

Being at a disadvantage, does not mean we can’t be successful.

Sometimes circumstances are just uneven.  I guarantee you that every one of us has come up against a team with bigger kids, more equipment or more resources.  Those are the victories that mean the most to us in the end aren’t they?

Anyone can take a bunch of pretty good kids and win games.  Any coach can let the lesser athletes ride the bench all season.  Making an OK player a better player not only helps that kid, but makes you a better coach.  Getting knocked down, failing, missing the goal are all part of getting better.  That applies not only on the field or court, but in life.  How many of us think we would be vastly different people if we never played a sport?  Maybe we had that one teacher who helped us make a breakthrough in something, I bet we can all name that one coach or one moment in sports that changed everything…that we will always remember.  We can do that for a kid.  Coaching is a ministry…it goes so much beyond a player’s stats.  The lessons of the faith should be embedded in everything that we do with kids on and off the field. Coaching should be more than just winning. If we work to make it about more than wins and losses it helps us grow as coaches and spiritual leaders.

So yes, faith and sports can and should go hand in hand.  We need to remember we are role models for the students we coach.  Because when the dust settles we want our players to look back fondly on their playing careers and thank us for not only making them better players, but more importantly better people of faith.   Isn’t that what it is all about?