May 31st, 2013

Hyland's Heroes: Gil Schrage

Kay Whelan

Staff Writer

Hyland's Heroes: Gil Schrage
The Holy Spirit School 2009 City Champions in soccer / photo from Gil Schrage

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

It’s a guess that Gil Schrage is now able to appreciate a losing season, if only because he recalls his childhood soccer team at St. Agnes (their first team ever), and then being blessed with “a season unblemished by victory!” But he was not deterred by that memory; one might presume it was something he learned from and has used later in his coaching life at Holy Spirit School.

Gil attended St. Xavier high school and the University of Kentucky. He and his wife, Johanna, have a son Nick, and two daughters, McKenna and Lydia. Sports appeal to them, but soccer is the sport they love and participate in playing.

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

In 2002, when my son Nick was in kindergarten and eager to play soccer for his new school, Carol Rickert was the Holy Spirit Soccer Coordinator. In her nine years at the helm, 17 Holy Spirit graduates when on to play Division I or Division II college soccer, including two, Jimmy Crick and Nate Gerstle on the University of Louisville's 2010 NCAA runner-up team, and one, Brynn Gerstle who played on the Notre Dame's women's National Champion team in 2010-11.

Carol coached many of the grade schools teams these budding soccer stars played on. Her enthusiasm for soccer was contagious. In 2002, I'd not coached any team before, but she gave me enough support and direction that I felt confident to lead an ambitious group of kindergarteners to an undefeated season!  

What sports did you coach and for how long?

Soccer – every year since 2002. I coached Basketball as an assistant coach for 2 years on an “as needed” basis and also worked with Cross Country as an assistant coach for 4 years - under another legend, Joe Buechler. Assistant coaching CC means running in the park with the kids and cheering at meets, best coaching job ever!

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

Coaching gives one the opportunity to put their faith, beliefs and values into action. Talking about being a good sport and exhibiting good sportsmanship in a heated competition often can be two very different things. Exhibiting the beliefs and values we hold, shapes the kids in a way words alone simply cannot.

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

My father! He taught me the value of positive reinforcement and importance of being patient with kids who are trying to learn.

What are your major themes/principles as a coach?  

I try to teach the kids the player skill they need to develop, plus hard work and teamwork

What does coaching bring to you, your family? 

Working with kids keeps me young, gives me fresh perspectives and it’s rewarding to play a positive roll in their development. And the drama of some games is very entertaining!

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

In general, seeing the joy on a kids face when they do something in a game that we have worked on in practice - and recognizing that they know they have helped the team. Another specific memory was the last game of Nick’s 3rd grade soccer season when it was raining on an already muddy field and every kid ended up soaked and dripping with mud. Winning the City championship in 2009!  


Recent Articles