March 1st, 2012

Elementary Excellence: Round Table

Sarah Newell

CSN Staff Writer

Elementary Excellence: Round Table
photo by Sarah Menefee

 Local grade school coaches discuss passion for coaching

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 is proud to offer a round table discussion this week as our feature. We had the chance to speak with three well-known Catholic athletic coaches about their experiences in Catholic athletics. This week’s questions and answers are part of a two-week series, and the coaches we gained insight from this week include:


  • Todd Allen, Sacred Heart Model School Head Swim Coach
  • Richard Brown, St. Bernard Grade School Football (Grades 5-6)
  • Chris Hellmann, St. Gabriel Grade School Volleyball (Girls 6A)


1) What is your background in Catholic education and/or athletics?


TA: I am a graduate of Sacred Heart Model School and St. Xavier High School. At SHMS, I participated in a variety of sports before selecting year-round swimming as the sport I wanted to focus on full-time. I swam at St. X as well as Centre College and for the club teams Plantation and Lakeside (two of my three boys swam at Lakeside as well).


RB: I attended Most Blessed Sacrament grade school and DeSales High School. I played football and basketball in grade school and Football and baseball at DeSales.


CH: I went to St. Rita’s and DeSales High School. At first, I didn’t know too much about girls volleyball, but my wife had played all her life. She grew up at St. Edwards Parish. Now, I have coached volleyball at St. Gabriel for 10 years.


2) How did you get involved in your parish athletics?


TA: When my oldest son, Clayton, started kindergarten at SHMS, I began to help out with coaching. The following year, he was eligible to swim for SHMS and I started helping out the other coaches, Thad Schulten and Kirk Buese. This year is my first year heading up the team and I am enjoying it quite a bit. We have a large team (approximately 80 swimmers) with a lot of younger swimmers, which makes it highly energetic. It’s great fun though.


RB: We transferred to St Bernard when my son, Logan, was in the third grade. Some of the people knew my coaching background and ask if I would be interested in coaching the 5th and 6th grade football team. I decided to do it and I am now preparing for my 8th season.


CH: The Sunday Bulletin was looking for boys’ volleyball coaches. I had only coached high school volleyball for five years, and I wanted to stay connected to the parish.



3) What is it about coaching your specific sport that inspires you or excites you to teach the young student athletes?


TA: Swimming is different than a lot of other sports in that it relies so heavily on the individual swimmer's performance, even on relays. The challenges that the swimmer faces in the water are really the swimmer's challenges alone, unlike a sport with a team on the field together. That difference, I believe, creates unique experiences for the swimmer to grow and build their confidence by overcoming the challenges. It is great to witness this first-hand in a young swimmer's excitement after a great swim.


RB: Football is a great sport for teaching life lessons. It requires hard work, but more importantly, It teaches is teamwork. To be a successful team everyone has to be focused on a common set of goals and the only way to achieve those goals is to work to improve yourself everyday and help your teammates to the same. We spend a great deal of time talking to our team about the importance of school, sportsmanship and just being good people. The reward for me is seeing them develop as football players and as people.


CH: I like coaching young student athletes and teaching them a sport that I have grown to love. Volleyball is a game that you play and you earn points to win the game. I teach the kids that in volleyball and life, it is more rewarding to work hard and earn points and see yourself or team succeed, rather than win off of another team’s errors or bad game.


4) What is your favorite part of Catholic athletics in general?


TA: I have three boys, Clayton, Spencer and Max. They all participate in various Catholic athletics through SHMS. I believe Catholic athletics provides great "life lessons" for kids. The opportunity for the kids to compete for their school combined with the guidance of the Catholic community increases and deepens the ways in which these lessons impact the person.


RB: My favorite part of Catholic athletics is the overall parish community support that is given to these young people. That support is what makes participating in sports special.


CH: The competition and the friendships you make over the years are my favorite part of Catholic athletics.


5) How does your involvement in coaching young student athletes impact their daily lives?


TA: It is most important for me to know the kids are having fun and see swimming as something they look forward to doing.


RB: I hope they enjoy what there doing and along the way continue developing into good people.


CH: It’s a life lesson they can learn from as they grow.


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