January 20th, 2016

Hyland's Heroes: Scott Tomchek

Samantha Stallings

Staff Writer

Hyland's Heroes: Scott Tomchek
The Tomchek family / photo provided by the family

The following feature is a part of a bi-weekly series, sponsored by Hyland Insurance. "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 toeditor@catholicsportsnet.com.

Scott Tomchek is member of St. Patrick in Middletown.  He is married to Anita Guzman Tomchek and they have two children. Dominic is a sophomore at St. Xavier, while Elana is in eighth grade at St. Patrick and will attend Assumption next fall.

After obtaining Scott obtained his bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee he received a post-professional Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a concentration in early intervention.  His Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Sciences is from the University of Kentucky.  He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Weisskopf Child Evaluation Center at the University of Louisville and is the Co-clinical Director of the UofL Autism Center.

When and how did you get your start with St. Patrick?

My family joined St. Patrick 12 years ago, a couple of years before Dominic started Kindergarten. Early on, my wife (Anita) and I played in an adult co-ed volleyball league to get acclimated to the St. Patrick community and meet other families. Soon after Dominic started school and participated in sports, I became involved in helping coach his teams and a couple of years later Elana started at St. Patrick and I helped coach some of her teams as well.

Who asked you to contribute or what got you involved?

Like many Catholic school athletic ministries, there is often an abundance of athletes for teams and a shortage of coaches to coordinate. St. Patrick was no different. So when my kids started playing sports and there was a need, if I could help coach I did.

What sports did or do you volunteer to help and for how long?

I coached flag football for a year early on, but have primarily coached boys and girls basketball (six years) and volleyball (four years).

When not coaching, I have also supported team stewardship activities as our athletic ministry encourages each athletic team to participate in a stewardship activity during their athletic season. Last year, I did not coach but offered to coordinate a stewardship activity for the girls’ basketball team Elana was on. Our St. Patrick team paired up with a Special Olympics of Kentucky team (Louisville Royals) to practice together. In these practices, our team became the volunteers to help the Royals coaches work on goal areas. It was a great experience for all and I think my team, their parents and the Royals felt like it was a great collaboration to be involved in.  The two teams built a relationship which allowed for some great support on both sides as some of the Royals athletes came to one of the St. Patrick games and the St. Patrick team was a loud supporter of the Royals at the St. Mary’s tournament held at St. Patrick.

What’s the connection with your faith and giving your time to student athletes?

Giving of treasure, time and talent are foundational stewardship principles at St. Patrick. The connection to volunteering with student athletes goes beyond faith and these stewardship opportunities. My background as an occupational therapist working in developmental pediatrics has also played a role in my decision to volunteer. I am a faculty member in the Department of Pediatrics at the Weisskopf Child Evaluation Center at the University of Louisville. There, I work with individuals with autism spectrum disorder, developmental disabilities and learning differences. Many of the principles used in practice are readily applicable to working with a team.Things like identifying strengths and need areas of clients, determining motivations to participation, clarifying roles, setting outcomes/goals, and planning session activities used in practice are readily applicable to working with student athletes. So coaching has been a natural fit for coaching as a stewardship commitment at St. Patrick. 

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

Rather than one person, I would have to say my parents, Bill and Mary Jane Tomchek, were most influential. I was raised in a culture of involvement in your faith community. I attended Catholic school (Two Rivers Catholic Central School in Wisconsin) and was involved in activities and sports there. We attended church as a family weekly. My parents were involved in supporting school and church activities, including my dad coaching many of my basketball teams. So I have great childhood memories of hanging with my dad and friends during my own sports activities and at tournaments and other activities my parents helped coordinate as part of the athletic council.

What are your major themes/principle as a volunteer?

Many athletes who compete in CSAA sports also are also involved with a club team which may be the same or different than the sport they may be playing at their school. Despite having a common competitive goal, participation in these club teams often has a different culture.  So some athletes may participate on a competitive club team for a sport and then participate in a CSAA sport as more of a social activity with their friends. So a major theme really is to work on the fundamentalists of a sport and instill lifelong values in the athletes that they will use beyond sport. Things like teamwork, communication, negotiation, always trying to get better and dealing with adversity are a focus and discussed often. Given my clinical work I also have a strong belief that every athlete has strengths and interests. So our job as coaches is to align the athlete’s interest with their strength and put them in a situation to be successful. Overall, the goal is to have each athlete have a positive experience and to come back the following year to participate if they still have interest

What does your role at St. Patrick bring your family?

Primarily opportunity, opportunity to spend additional time with my kids, my wife if she is also coaching, friends I coach with, and friends of my kids. You get to know the friends (yours and your kids) on a more personal level which to some degree provides a level of comfort when you are not there. Most of us are living very fast pace lives with personal, work, school, athletic, and other activities that quickly fill available time. Having these opportunities to spend time sharing these lived experiences (instead of from the stands) with your family and friends readily built into your schedule is a bonus.

What are the fondest experiences or memories you have of your volunteer time?

Like most coaches, some of my fondest memories are of athletes who excelled at key times in a competition. Some of these are of an athlete who made great play at a critical time, while others are of the quiet athlete who spoke up and provided a leadership role when it was needed.

Last year’s experience with the Louisville Royals is also definitely one of my favorite memories. To see these young women from St. Patrick commit additional time outside of their other activities to mentor and advocate for the other athletes was a great experience. Then to go on to cheer for and support the Royals team during their games in the St. Mary’s tournament was fabulous. Many there noticed the relationships that were built between the members of the teams. We are planning to again have a similar stewardship activity with the Royals while also including a boy’s team. My overall goal is to expand this concept to link most St. Patrick’s basketball teams with a local Special Olympics team and/or develop a formal Special Olympics Unified Sports program at St. Patrick…goals and dreams yet to accomplish! These goals align very well with the missions of the Celtic Athletic Ministry at St. Patrick. 


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