Parish athletic directors or their representatives spent the day on June 9 preparing for CYO sports programs at their respective schools and parishes at the annual membership conference at the Doubletree Hotel in Beachwood.
They learned about CYO’s mission and vision, heard the state of CYO report, learned about new initiatives and possible new sports programs, resources and support available to parish/school programs and learned how to develop customer service, athletic director “super skills” and conflict resolution skills from a professional leadership coach.
The CYO mission is to inspire young people to know God, to love God and to serve God through athletics.
CYO envisions young people actively practicing their faith in community on their teams and in their families, schools, parishes and the world.
Greg “Dobie” Moser, director of youth/young adult ministry and CYO, gave an overview of the day and introduced some key personnel/presenters, including Mary Ann King, athletic administrator, and Sean Reynolds of Mustard Seed Consultants who presented two sessions to help develop leadership and conflict resolution skills.
Moser also talked about the Play Like a Champion Today sports education program that encourages inclusive sports culture by educating ethically responsible sports leaders, coaches, parents, athletic administrators and athletes. He said several people from the diocese have attended and/or presented at the programs.
King updated the group on new developments including new sports being introduced or considered, such as lacrosse and bowling; possible expansion of spring sports to include some indoor activities in order to keep students engaged with CYO; coach recertification and how to attract more diversity among coaches, including more women and minorities. Conference attendees also received information about sports for the coming year including fees and deadlines; CYO charter and bylaws and other information to help plan and implement their parish/school CYO programs.
Reynolds engaged attendees in some customer service practices, stressing the importance of listening. He offered these seven “super skills” for participants to use: be a disciple; get trained and formed; practice your voice; build a team; coach your coaches; be a partner and build culture. He also listed five “game-changers” that CYO leaders should employ: prepare (to serve, not fix), listen to what’s said and not said, understand and check for understanding, exceed the need and do conflicts well.
“Conflicts can be opportunities in disguise,” Reynolds told the group.
John Maier, a former CYO athlete who is attending medical school, spoke to the group sharing the impact CYO has had on his life. He participated in CYO baseball, basketball, cross country and track at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Parma, then earned eight varsity letters in cross country and track at St. Ignatius High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and behavior from the University of Notre Dame where he was heavily involved in intramural sports and worked in the Sports Information Department. Maier is working towards a medical degree at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and hopes to be a sports orthopedic surgeon.
“Passion is important because the window of opportunity (for CYO sports) is not open for long,” he said.
“CYO taught me how to compete,” Maier said, adding it also helped him learn to improve himself through challenges. “Winning is not the highest standard; focus on the importance of the journey.” Maier said the importance of prayer and team Masses during his CYO days also left a lasting impression.
Parishes that benefited from the Bishop Roger Gries Good Shepherd Fund were recognized at the meeting, also. The fund provides access to CYO programs to youth in need throughout the diocese. The fund provides supplementary funding for student participation, sports equipment, uniforms and facilities and leadership training for program leaders for CYO parish programs in need. Moser said CYO is committed to never turning away any child due to a lack of funding.
In 2017-2018, 15 grants totaling more than $40,500 were awarded to Archbishop Lyke, Cleveland; Emmanuel Christian Academy, Akron; Immaculate Heart of Mary, Cuyahoga Falls; Center for Pastoral Leadership, Wickliffe; Mary Queen of Peace, Cleveland; Our Lady of the Lake, Euclid; St. Aloysius-St. Agatha, Cleveland; St. Benedict, Garfield Heights; St. Bridget of Kildare, Parma; St. Francis, Cleveland; St. Jerome, Cleveland; St. Leo the Great, Cleveland; St. Patrick, Kent; St. Thomas Aquinas, Cleveland; and Urban Community School, Cleveland.
Since its inception in 2009, the fund has awarded more than $370,000. Tournament gate fees help provide resources for the Good Shepherd Fund.
Also honored were athletic directors with five, 10 and 20 years of service in CYO.
“The CYO mission is to change life after athletics,” Moser said, noting that it’s unlikely these young athletes will be playing sports at a higher or professional level. However, the skills they learn through CYO will help them throughout their lives, he added.