April 8th, 2011

Elementary Excellence: St. Stephen Martyr

Sarah Newell

CSN Staff Writer

Elementary Excellence: St. Stephen Martyr
photo courtesy of Rick Laemmle

Intramural programs help build early success

The following feature is a part of a weekly 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.

St. Stephen Martyr Elementary School, located off of Hess Lane, provides student-athletes with a positive environment to excel in sports at a young age, according to Athletic Director Rick Laemmle.

I started the intramural sports program, along with a great group of volunteers, seven years ago prior to being an athletic board member. We now offer different sports like basketball, flag football, soccer, cheer and volleyball to K-2 (grades). I want them to learn the fundamentals early so they can use them as they get older in their sports,” said Laemmle.


Laemmle, in his 3rd year as athletic director, works with an assistant athletic director, athletic board and countless volunteers and parents to make sure all of the sports teams run smoothly for the Cardinals. Many of the coaches and volunteers have family ties to the St. Stephen Martyr Parish or even attended the school themselves.


“We have high quality coaches and volunteers to help with the sports,” said Laemmle. “As more kids have gotten involved at a young age, we’ve added and expanded sports even into the later grades.”


According to Laemmle, St. Stephen Martyr has, and will continue, to reach out and make sure sports are in place as desired.


“We just added Powder Puff Football for girls, and we’re expanding our golf, tennis and swimming,” said Laemmle. “Lacrosse keeps coming up, and so, we’re seriously considering that sport as well. We really want to stay with the times and offer the sports that the kids want to play.”


And with a wide range of sports offered for different grades, SSMS has seen success from different teams throughout the years.


“One of the highlights we’ve had recently includes a Toy Bowl win from sixth grade boys in 2009, and then a sixth grade boys championship in basketball in 2010,” said Laemmle. “Also, we have routinely had success and multiple teams in city championships for girls basketball grades 5-8.”


Assistant Athletic Director John Bersot, Jr., who works with Laemmle to oversee operations such as signups and tryouts, added that the great intramural program has really fostered an environment for the kids to learn and succeed for years to come.


‘”In our program, we want to make sure the kids learn and have fun, and the intramural program is really good for our younger ones,” said Bersot Jr. “We want to make sure we are running a good program for everyone.”


Along with Laemmle and Bersot, Jr., an athletic board helps guide decisions and athletic events for the Cardinals. Athletic Board member Mark Woods says he enjoys his work on the board helping athletes succeed at a young age from on the court to fundraising efforts.


“I started off coaching at St. Stephen Martyr, and then got involved with the board,” said Woods. “My main goal for the student athletes is for them to know it’s not just about winning. I want them to be better players than when they started, and to remember to have fun.”


Woods added that the athletic department works hard to put together events and commitments throughout the parish year to year.


“We have quite a few parents that want to help in efforts like Fish Fries,” said Woods. “We also just worked on a Mulch Sale within the parish.  Throughout the year, we have schedules for teams to have responsibility working concession stands, and everyone works together for those type of activities.”


As St. Stephen Martyr continues to build upon tradition from early childhood for students, Laemmle says he looks forward to new opportunities not only within their individual school, but beyond.


Said Laemmle: “I want CSAA sports to continue to grow, as well as our school sports to grow. We want to continue introducing the sports young so they can enjoy them all their lives.”


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