“Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)
From the very dawn of Christianity, St. Paul used athletics as an analogy for the Christian life. The reason this analogy is applicable is because of the natural virtues that are necessarily a part of athletic pursuits. The most successful athletes are those who cultivate and practice the virtues of self-mastery, humility, obedience, sacrifice, and many more. Our contemporary culture often celebrates lesser attributes in modern athletes – sometimes showmanship, arrogance, and hot-headedness attract more attention and garner more headlines, and in turn more dollar signs.
However, those who have been around sports for a long time will acknowledge that the individuals who have the most positive and lasting impact are those who play and practice with dedication, quiet confidence, and commitment to bettering themselves and those around them. At North Catholic High School, this is the type of student-athlete we hope to develop.
In our founding documents we read the following: “Our mission is the formation of Christ-centered young adults who are leaders in their communities, known by their intellectual, practical, ethical, and human skills.” Our athletic program is an important part of the overall mission of the school. The most important element of all our programs is that they are Christ-centered. On January 25, 2016, Bishop Zubik spoke to the entire student body and stated, “The reason this school exists is to help you come to know Jesus and to strengthen your personal relationship with Him.” This fundamental goal is not only applicable in the chapel, or the classrooms, but must be equally true for every sports team that bears the NCHS name.
That does not mean that every practice is a church service, but it does mean that all of our programs should embody certain distinguishable characteristics. These characteristics include prayer, Christian witness, an emphasis on virtue, sportsmanship, integrity, and intentional efforts at mentoring.
In an address delivered to athletes in Rome’s Olympic Stadium in 1984, Pope St. John Paul the Great proclaimed the unique goodness that exists in athletics and spoke of “its intrinsic value as a factor in the formation of the person and a component of culture and civilization.” If we remain true to our mission and build a strong Christian foundation for each of our programs, we will certainly have a dynamic impact on the individual lives of each student-athlete as well as the entire NCHS community.
I am confident that we will win many more championships in the years to come and have the banners and trophies to prove it. However, this is not our primary goal. Our success will come from focusing on the mission of North Catholic High School. And the most important victories we win will be the formation of young men and women who know Jesus and live according to His Gospel.
Fortes in fide,
Luke W. Crawford
North Catholic High School