March 12th, 2013

Elementary Excellence: St. Patrick volleyball

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor

Elementary Excellence: St. Patrick volleyball
Dr. Bratcher is third to the right / photo from St. Patrick Facebook

Dr. Bratcher steps into coaching role

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

Coaches in the CSAA are volunteers, they don’t get paid; they do it for the kids. So what happens when a volunteer doesn’t come forward? Sometimes that team isn’t able to play because there’s nobody to lead them.

At St. Patrick, nobody had come forward to coach the 7th/8th grade volleyball team. After the faculty versus student volleyball game, St. Patrick volleyball director Lee Ann Zwiebel did an unlikely thing and approached their principal, Dr. Michael Bratcher, and asked him if he wanted to coach the team.

“We had a faculty versus student volleyball game during catholic schools week,” Bratcher said. “I played in that and had a great time. I have played a little bit, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert. But I had fun with it so we had that game. Afterwards, they asked me if I would coach them. I thought about it and me and a teacher assistant here said we’d do it. So we have been coaching 11 seventh graders and one eighth grader.”

So far things are going well for the principal. They’re 1-1 as the season is an extremely quick one with the tournament starting up next weekend.

“We’re having the absolute blast,” the principal said. “We practice twice a week and have games on Saturday. It’s a pretty quick season and it’s very interesting and fun taking on this role and this responsibility. It has been a rewarding experience for me and the students since they get to see me outside of school.”

With that said, Dr. Bratcher has to separate who he is from inside and outside the classroom.

“I feel like I do a good job of separating things from things that need to be separated,” the coach said. “When I show up to volleyball practice, I’m a coach. Obviously they see me as a principal, but they see me as a coach when I’m there. I’m there to try to teach them some things and I also learn from them. And when I’m principal, I’m principal. I try to separate the two as best I can.”

And the kids have enjoyed playing underneath the principal. While the Celtics aren’t the best team out there, the group is enjoying spending time together.

“The kids are having an absolute blast,” Bratcher said. “It’s so much fun. My goal was to just have fun with them. We may not win every game, but we’re trying our best to teach them something and to have fun with at the same time.

Bratcher can’t pick out a memorable moment that stands out. But he thinks the most rewarding thing is that he gets to see the student’s personality in a way that he might not see in school.

“They’re hilarious,” he said. “In practices they come up with sayings when they serve up an ace. I’m not sure what the saying is but it’s pretty cool. I think seeing them outside of the classroom has shed some light and it has been interesting and rewarding for both of me and the students.”


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