February 18th, 2011

Elementary Excellence: St. Michael

Chris Jung

Senior Writer

Elementary Excellence: St. Michael
photo from St. Michael Parish

New additions could make school the city's largest

The following feature is a part of a LouisvilleCatholicSports.com series called "Elementary Excellence" - a set of profiles that will spotlight Louisville area Catholic elementary schools and its athletic programs, teams, traditions and excellence in all aspects of sports. Do you want your school to be featured? Send us your recommendation to editor@catholicsportsnet.com.

Since St. Michael Parish opened its school doors in 1997, the community has grown considerably and now has over 1,000 active parishoners.

Benefiting from that growth has been the athletic programs, which have seen consistent development and rapid increase in numbers of its own, as anywhere from 2-4 teams have been added per grade, per year over the past several seasons.

Dan Ryan, who has acted as athletic director for four of those years, says he would love to see student participation in sports at 100 percent and is excited about what's in store for the school. Most significantly, Ryan is eager regarding the possible addition of three new facilities - a baseball, football, and soccer field that would make St. Michael the largest campus in the city, according to the Archdiocese.

"We are in the process of building a new church and that's the priority, as it should be," said Ryan. "But after that, we are hoping to have these new additions added to the proposal. It's very exciting."

St. Michael, which is located on Stone Lakes Drive off Taylorsville Road past Jeffersontown, is also proactive when it comes to promoting sportsmanship and good behavior within its sports teams. Already active and an advocate for a program called "Sports Leader," Ryan and St. Michael athletics has also put in place a program that encourages positive parenting and coaching approaches, as well as the promotion of self esteem and strong character.

"We want our kids to have strong leaders and coaches, and to be taught the right way," said Ryan. "Our goal is to make the kids into better people first. If we don't win championships, but we develop the kids into good people along the way, then we still win."

Ryan, who has a third-grade student currently enrolled at St. Michael, oversees a large athletic board and says he has introduced the "business side" of things to athletics since taking over the reins of St. Michael AD from Kirk Senn four years ago.

"It's really just about watching how your pennies are spent and keeping things organized," said Ryan.

Ryan's wife, Michelle, also serves on the board and acts as the equipment and uniform coordinator. Ryan also says that the relationship between the school, church, and athletics is as strong as ever due to the cooperation and support of the administration and an athletic-minded pastor, Fr. Dick Sullivan.

"I work with a wonderful group of people," said Ryan. "I couldn't do half the things I do without their help and I am fortunate to have such hard-working individuals to help keep things moving."

St. Michael offers all of the traditional sports, including field hockey, and has even considered the addition of lacrosse and archery. The schools also offers basketball and other non-competitive leagues for its younger students in grades K-2.

For more information on St. Michael athletics, visit: http://stmichaelchurch.org/pages/st.-michael-athletics.php


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