August 26th, 2011

Hyland's Heroes: Joe Medley

Paul Najjar

CSN Staff Writer

Hyland's Heroes: Joe Medley
image from

Medley extending Rieber's legacy                              

The following feature is a part of a weekly series, sponsored by Hyland, Block & Hyland, called "Hyland's Heroes" - a set of profiles that will spotlight Louisville area Catholic volunteers, coaches and administrators who assist athletic programs and teams, and help promote excellence in all aspects of sports. Know someone that you think should be featured as the next "Hyland's Hero? Send your recommendation to

For Joe Medley, his first experience with Catholic sports was playing for CSAA coaching legend Joe Rieber. Rieber’s influence reached thousands of Louisville youths and the 5th/6th grade Toy Bowl trophy bears his name.

Medley recalls those heady days as a young football player for Rieber and points to his coach’s style as having a big impact on him.

“Coach Rieber was a great guy and he’s probably the reason I’m still coaching today,” said Medley. “He instilled character in all of us. That was the common denominator with coach Rieber; he preached character and he developed character in his players. He had several former players go on to coach in the CSAA. And like he gave to me, there’s no better compliment than to pass on what you’ve learned.”

Medley and his Most Blessed Sacrament teammates won the Toy Bowl championship in 1964; a tie that binds him to coach Rieber and the CSAA.

He started his coaching career with a tentative trial run. A friend asked Medley to help him coach in the Optimist league over 30 years ago. “My friend told me he needed some help for a couple of days,” recalled Medley. “I told him I was only good for a few days and those few days turned into a week. And I told him, ‘I’m afraid if I start this now I’m never going to quit.’”

Medley started coaching at the 5th/6th grade level at Mt. Carmel and lasted there for six years. Twenty-six years later he’s still going strong with the consolidated school of St. Nicholas as their 7th/8th grade coach.

“If I was going to coach, I really wanted to work with the kids in the CSAA,” Medley said. “You can’t get out of line here and the rules, the structure and the management of the organization are really strong. I played in it; I believe in it; and I love it.”

Involved with the CSAA for more than 30 years, Medley keeps coming back for the kids and for the opportunity to continue his old coach’s legacy.

“I’ve been fortunate to have three coaches who have been with me for a long time,” he said. “They’ve become good friends and I’ve had players come back and coach with me, too. Matt Corbett played quarterback for me and at DeSales and has helped with the team for eight years. Got to coach my sons, too, and they helped when they could.”

With his grandchildren just beginning to play volleyball and cheerleading, Medley’s grandson, who is in Kindergarten, is already lobbying for him to keep coaching until he gets to be old enough to play for St. Nicholas.

“The boys you coach eventually come back, talk to you or tell you about something you did that meant something to them and that’s the reward for all of the work,” Medley said. “You put a lot of your life into coaching football, but you get a lot more out of it than you put in. We had a lot of good luck at Mt. Carmel and St. Nicholas.”

Medley’s part of video presentations and gives instructions on setting priorities that are simple, time-honored nuggets of information. He sets down his guidelines and prioritizes God and faith, family, school and then football. And during football, he wants those boys to get outside and get used to the weather rather than sit inside and play video games.

He’s put together a booklet of information that he hands out to his players every year that includes stories and sayings about character and work ethic. But it also has a section about the history of the Toy Bowl that has programs and pictures and highlights so that his players can read and dream about it.

“I tell my players that they’ve got to ‘dream the dream’ and then work to make that dream a reality,” he said.

One of his proudest moments was winning the Toy Bowl with St. Nicholas in its first year of existence. “The first year that we merged our schools into St. Nicholas we were lucky enough to win the Toy Bowl and we held the post-game celebration at Most Blessed Sacrament’s gym,” he said. “We took a picture with my coaches and me with that trophy and the 1964 Toy Bowl trophy. It’s a pretty cool picture that I keep where I can see it.”


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