The following article was contributed by Victor Bell, Assistant Head Football Coach, Defensive Coordinator, and Social Studies Teacher at Helias Catholic High School in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Hello, everyone, my name is Victor Bell. I am the Assistant Head Football Coach and Defensive Coordinator and social studies teacher at Helias Catholic High School in Jefferson City, Missouri. I’m beginning my 13th year of education and coaching. My family attends St. Peters in Jefferson City. I am excited about this opportunity to share my thoughts about how coaching and athletics could be a great way to share our faith with others. To start, I wanted to ask you one simple question. Does your coaching philosophy match your school’s mission statement? Below is our mission statement at Helias Catholic:
Helias Interparish High School is committed to providing excellence in education as established on the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church for student’s grades 9-12. Working in partnership with families, we are dedicated to providing a disciplined environment where Christ and His graces in each person are recognized, respected and fostered. As a teaching institution in the traditions of the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the La Salle Christian Brothers, we challenge our students spiritually, academically and physically as we help to form them to be active, lifelong, enthusiastic participants in the Church.
What is your calling as a coach? What is your vision? What is your mission?
In year 13 of coaching, these are the questions I start with now instead of how many games am I going to win or district or state titles. We are hired by our diocese to teach and coach, but we know that we are hired to do much more. As coaches, we are the face of our schools, our community, and most importantly our faith. The question to ask in our athletic profession is, are we a great example of our faith? Early in my career I was worried about wins and losses and not being an ambassador of my school and my faith. I want to compete, and I want to win, but there is a way to conduct yourself during athletic activities. We can’t say and live our mission statement in our hallways during school and put everything aside during times of competition. We must lean on our faith during tough times especially. God is everywhere, and we never know at what moment a child or adult could find Christ.
Yes, athletics is a great tool to show our faith and our mission to others. How we act and how we positively conduct ourselves could bring someone closer to saying they want faith in their lives. Anne Stricherz the writer of Pray and Practice with Purpose states, “I challenge coaches to make use of prayer as a way of reaching students at that deep, profound level a chance to slow down with your team.” I love this! Think about the chance to slow down with your team. We are worried, and we are concerned about the development of our player’s performance during practice and games. When do we help develop their faith? It’s our responsibility to help our athletes in their faith journey. We can’t be satisfied with saying they get their faith in their religion course. I challenge you to talk to your seniors about attending mass together or to have one senior lead prayer before practice. Or start a very simple question with your staff of how could we introduce faith to our team? As the school year starts I pray that everyone who reads this to have an amazing school year excelling in the classroom and your sport but most importantly please help your athletes grow in their faith. Thank you and may the Lord bless you and keep you.
1 Peter 4:8: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
A Playbook for the Spiritual Development of Athletes. This book equips athletes, coaches and teams with the resources to achieve success in spiritual formation. Through prayer and practice with purpose, sports and spirituality can become a valuable component of a team’s culture and routine.