July 31st, 2011

Elementary Excellence: St. Nicholas

Sarah Newell

CSN Staff Writer

Elementary Excellence: St. Nicholas
photo from St. Nicholas Academy

Merged school continues to thrive in the south end

With the merging of Most Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Sts. Simon & Jude and St. Thomas More in 2004, St. Nicholas Academy has and continues to serve the south end of Louisville with a Catholic Foundation in the classroom and athletic fields. 

Jeff Johnson, the Panthers’ President of the Athletic Association, brings his own history from one of the merging parishes. 

“I actually went to Mt. Carmel, which was one of the original four schools that merged to become St. Nicholas. My kids went there, and then I got involved in coaching. That’s how I got started more than 10 years ago,” said Johnson. “I still have a son that will be an eighth grader this year.” 

Not only does Johnson bring his own grade school background to his position with athletics, but he also brings his knowledge and history with sports to the student athletes. 

“I started playing football, and then went onto DeSales High School, and then played football at Eastern Kentucky,” said Johnson. “ My athletic experience helps keep everything in perspective with the sports. It’s about the kids. With me being around athletics that long, it gives me an idea about how to go about different situations.” 

Johnson, who works directly with Dan Robbins, aims to lead St. Nicholas Academy athletics with positive leadership.  “We try to make sure everybody keeps it in perspective and know it’s all about the kids,” said Johnson.

“People can sometimes be in it (grade school athletics) for the wrong reasons. We want to keep it all in perspective. We try to get the kids to come out to play and be active.” 

While St. Nicholas Academy does not currently have an active intramural (K-2) program, Johnson has seen the older grades succeed in a multitude of ways across different sports. 

“Our number one sport is football. One of the biggest reasons includes Joe Medley. He is our eighth grade coach and he has been coaching for 26 years and active with the CSAA (Catholic School Athletic Association) Board. We’ve won several toy bowls. Fifth and sixth grades had success with football as well. There’s a good chance this year they’ll get back to the toy bowl. Volleyball has had a lot of success too. We have one of the better known volleyball programs around town,” said Johnson. 

And since the merging in 2004, the Panthers have had the benefit of a few different locations for practice space. 

“We have access to four gyms. When you have 30 something basketball teams, you need all of them,” said Johnson. “ We have a nice field. Our gym at Mt. Carmel is large with new lights and new floor. As far as facilities, we have access to fields, and with number of teams we even have to rent other gyms. Overall, the facilities are not bad at all.” 

Johnson says that currently there are no renovations taking place at this time, but he sees possibility in the future. 

“At. Mt. Carmel, the baseball field is dirt, and we want to convert that to all grass. If there are any renovations, it’s limited in that area. There is nothing in the works now, but doesn’t mean it won’t happen down the road,” said Johnson. 

Ultimately, as Johnson sees the fall season approach, he has hopes to teach life lessons above all else. 

Said Johnson: “From my experience personally, I would say our coaches instill in these kids winning is nice but it’s not about winning all the time. You should win gracefully and lose  gracefully. You learn just as much from losing or more as you do from winning.”


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