April 19th, 2013

Hyland's Heroes: Michelle McCarthy

Kay Whelan

Staff Writer

Hyland's Heroes: Michelle McCarthy
Michelle McCarthy (left) and the OLOL volleyball team

The following feature is a part of a bi-weekly series, sponsored by Hyland, Block & Hyland. "Hyland's Heroes" is a series of profiles that 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 editor@catholicsportsnet.com.

Michelle McCarthy – OLOL 8th grade boys volleyball coach

Louisville is blessed with an abundance of volleyball talent – both players and coaches. It is one of the signature sports for girls in the city. The sport is now gaining influence with young boys and they are lucky to be getting the guidance of young women like Michelle McCarthy who formerly played at St. Leonard and then her high school, Sacred Heart. Her commitment to helping the program grow at Our Lady of Lourdes is a result of her son’s interest. She, like other successful women in the sport, is a great teacher of the game for the boys volleyball program sponsored by the CSAA.

Michelle and Andrew McCarthy are parents to Patrick and Daniel who have both participated in multiple CSAA sports. As both of her boys will be in high school next year, we’ll hope that Michelle can keep her hand in the sport she loves, whether it is coaching young girls or boys.

When and how did you get your start with the CSAA? Why so?

My first experience with the CSAA was when I was in 2nd grade at St. Leonard, and my dad coached the 7/8 boys basketball team. I used to tag along at practices and games and, when I was old enough, it just seemed natural that I would play. So, from 5th through 8th grade, I played both volleyball and basketball.

Who asked you to contribute or what got you involved? 

When our family joined Our Lady of Lourdes’ parish in 2005, I looked up a former Sacred Heart teammate who was a member there, in the hopes of making some connections before school started. I can’t remember if she asked or I offered, but I ended up getting involved in the volleyball program after that.

What sports did you coach and for how long?

I coached girls’ volleyball for two years, and this will be my eighth year coaching boys volleyball.

What's the connection with your faith and giving your time to these young student athletes? 

Our parish is a stewardship parish, so the words “time, talent and treasure” are a part of our daily vocabulary. I’ve found a way to continue to use the talent that God gave me, not by playing volleyball myself, but by helping to reveal that talent in others through coaching.

I’m also hopefully helping to contribute to the feeling of community in our parish and school. I think the sports programs at Louisville’s Catholic grade schools provide a unique way to include young people in the parish community. From the excitement that filled our school when a team was doing well, to the caravans organized for “big” games, playing sports at St. Leonard made me feel like I was a part of the parish community. I like to think I’m doing what I can to keep that community spirit going in today’s students.

Who was the most influential person on your coaching career? Why?

All of my coaches have had an influence on me, but I’d say that the two people who’ve influenced me the most are my dad (Don Meyer) and my grade school volleyball coach (Tina Gilmour). My dad coached 7/8 boys basketball at St. Leonard from the time my brother and I were in 2nd and 3rd grade until we graduated. I think that growing up around that I just assumed I would do the same if I had the opportunity.

I remember my grade school volleyball coach because she really seemed to take the job of teaching us volleyball seriously. Her qualifications for coaching were like a lot of CSAA coaches - she was a mom of one of the players. Still, she did everything she could to make us better, like bringing in an “expert” here or there and scheduling lots of scrimmages for us at other schools (which were especially helpful, since we normally practiced outdoors, on a parking lot – and this was the 1980’s!).

What are your major themes/principles as a coach?  

I want my players to learn what it means to commit to something. A lot of players will view volleyball as just another activity on their already-packed schedule. I try to teach them that it’s more than that, that when you’re a part of a team, your teammates are counting on you – to show up at practices and games and to play hard every time you step on the court.

What does coaching bring to you, your family?

I love coaching because it helps to remind me – and has taught my children, from an early age – that there’s a big world outside of our immediate-family “bubble”. My children’s lives are so busy that I can easily lose my own, just keeping up with theirs. During volleyball season, however, my team comes first. Although that usually means that I have to miss some of my boys’ own games, I get a sense of purpose different from that of being a mom. It’s also good for my boys because it puts the lesson that “the world does not revolve around you” in terms that have been easy for them to understand.

What are the fondest experiences or memories you have of coaching? 

One of my best experiences is actually happening this season. I’m currently coaching my 8th grade son’s volleyball team at Lourdes. My sophomore, who plays volleyball for both Trinity and KIVA, had offered to come to our practices, and it’s been great to be able to get his opinion on different players and our team strategies, line-ups, etc. Seeing him develop the same passion for volleyball that I have was an unexpected bonus of coaching, and so is seeing him as a potential coach!


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