How the Association of Catholic Coaches & Athletes came into existence: November 13, 2011

In September of 2010 I met and became fast friends with a fellow Catholic coach. She and I had a great deal in common; thereby we hit it off from the get-go. However, there was one glaring difference between us. She had a much greater understanding and appreciation for the Catholic faith than I did. She was, as folks commonly like to say, “on fire” for her Catholic Christian faith. Well, she no doubt rubbed off on me, by introducing me to the many “tools” we have in the Catholic faith that help lead us to a closer relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Tools such as: praying the Rosary in a more meaningful way, attending the Adoration Chapel on a regular basis for in-depth prayer and meditation, and when she talked about going to confession she actually smiled and seemed to look forward to it. We even visited the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, and it was there I saw her fire for the faith explode with devotion and enthusiasm.

Another simple, yet very significant thing she did for me was give me a copy of one of Matthew Kelly’s CD’s, “7 Pillars of Catholic Spirituality.” This CD opened my eyes about the Catholic faith and the meaning of several of the most important aspects of the faith. This CD led me to many more Matthew Kelly CD’s, and many other CD’s available through Lighthouse Catholic Media by speakers who are informative, engaging and “on fire” for their faith. Then in February of this year I was invited by a fellow parishioner to attend a Cursillo retreat weekend. I gladly accepted the invitation. It was there that I received the framework that will help guide me to lead a Christ-like life for the rest of my life should I accept the “4th day” Cursillo challenge. That 4th day challenge consists of being accountable on a weekly basis in three vital areas of your Christian life. These areas are: piety (spiritual aids used to further your vital union with Christ), study (books read, CD’s listened to, speakers heard to better know God’s gift) and action (evangelization).

It is common for us Catholics to not know why we do what we do in our faith. Many of us were taken to Mass by our parent(s) as children and told what to do, yet many times not know why we were doing it. As we’ve become adults it’s easy and convenient to “check the box” each Sunday by going to Mass and say we’re fulfilling our Christian/spiritual obligation for the week. We sit there in Mass going through the motions, while not understanding what’s going on, in what should be the most spiritually uplifting experience we can ever partake in anywhere in the world, in receiving the body and blood of Jesus Christ! I understand because I’ve been there myself.

As my faith has been ignited and my understanding and appreciation of the Catholic faith has taken on new meaning, I want to provide a forum for other Catholic Christian coaches to come to this understanding, appreciation, and realization as well. As it has happened to me, I believe this will allow a coach’s stressful and hectic life to stabilize. They’ll become better husbands, wives, mommas and daddies and sons and daughters as a result. They’ll also become better mentors and role models to their players.

Just as with the baseball coaches and the game of baseball in Alabama, through the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association (ALABCA), I want to get relevant, inspirational, educational and applicable information to Catholic Coaches & Athletes about their faith, through the Association of Catholic Coaches & Athletes (ACCA). This entails, yet is not limited to, getting CD’s and pamphlets of this nature in their hands when they become ACCA members, and also organizing conferences on the state, regional, and national level, then having inspirational speakers who are on fire for their Catholic Christian faith address the attendees at these conferences.

I understand the lives coaches lead from my 17 years as a baseball coach and teacher – two years on the high school level and 15 years in college. I also understand the stronger my faith has become through using the tools of the Catholic faith, the more I’ve become a follower instead of a fan of Jesus Christ. As I continue my personal journey, I’m excited about being the facilitator in this venture for my fellow Catholic coaches in this country, and hopefully around the world, as interest and membership grows in the ACCA in the United States. I hope and pray you’ll join me.

With prayers, admiration and appreciation for the calling you’ve answered and the service you provide to our youth, and society as a whole,

Barry Dean
Founder/President – Association of Catholic Coaches & Athletes