So often the positive impact the 99 percent of coaches have on the families and children goes unnoticed. Except when those youth become adults, and many return to tell that coach how much their life choices and direction was affected by their time on the team.
In the case of the Sandy recovery, Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) sports has played a big role in helping so many of the families in the areas hardest hit by the hurricane.
“They all know we are a family, and here to help,” said Fred Sporrer, sports coordinator of CYO/Brooklyn Diocese. The programs serve 12,000 children from 70 parishes in eight sports, year-round, in Queens and Brooklyn.
Sporrer said he got countless phone calls from parish coaches looking to help.
“The affected parishes didn’t have to come to us,” he said. “When tragedy hit, those in our family who could help called us to reach out. Everything from gym time, clothing, supplies and even taking players on other teams was common. We called the devastated programs with offers of help.”
And it was taken.
St. Patrick's Parish in Bay Ridge hosted a group of Rockaway kids in their basketball program for the past two weekends. Brendan Grady and Dave Edwards, who run the basketball program at St. Patrick's, opened their doors to the kids so parents could have time to get their home lives straightened out.
But there was more.
Michael LoCascio from the St. Stan’s CYO program called upon other programs to bring donations this past weekend to Martin Luther School in Maspeth.
“Who do you trust more than your church?” said LoCascio.
LoCascio and Deacon Joe Catanello, director of CYO, led the charge and more than 100 people donated, sorted, packed and trucked the goods to parishes in the Rockaways. And Foot Locker helped out as well, donating approximately 2,500 pairs of sneakers.
The scene at Martin Luther was jovial and busy. Maspeth Town Hall volunteers worked feverishly, and ball players from CYO programs helped the cause.
“We are a family that is trusted, and when one is in trouble, we are all there to help,” said Catanello.
All of this proves that CYO is more about friends and family than it is about competition.