November 9th, 2016

Hyland's Heroes: John Hanks

Samantha Stallings

Staff Writer

Hyland's Heroes: John Hanks
photo provided by the Hanks 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.

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John Hanks was born and raised in Louisville, Ky. He graduated from St. Martha in 1981 and St. X in 1985. John’s wife Suzanne graduated from St. Pius in 1979 and Assumption in 1983.

John and Suzanne were married in 1992 and have three children Dylan, Bailey, and Carly who graduated from St. Agnes in 2008, 2011, and 2012 respectively. Dylan graduated from St. X in 2012. Bailey and Carly graduated from Assumption in 2015 and 2016.

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

St. Agnes has played an important role in my family for many years.  My grandparents were married here.  My mom, my aunt and three uncles graduated from St. Agnes. My mom and dad also were married at St. Agnes.  My earliest memories of St. Agnes were celebrating my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary and helping my great Aunt Virginia, a former teacher at St. Agnes, set up her annual card party fundraiser for the Sisters of Charity, in the Red Hall. My wife Suzanne and I joined St. Agnes almost 25 years ago, shortly after we were married and moved into the Highlands. 

Who asked you to contribute or what got you involved?

When my son Dylan was in Kindergarten, John Sansbury, the longtime Cub Master, asked for help at a parent meeting.  I volunteered and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.  Over the next five years I met so many people and made a lot of friends.

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

My first CSAA coaching experience came when I was just out of college and my co-worker Chris Conliffe, asked me to help coach seventh-eighth grade boys basketball at Our Lady of Lourdes.  I had a great time coaching for two years with my good friends Pat Brown and Larry Gumbel.

I first got involved in sports at St. Agnes sports when my daughters, Bailey and Carly, were in third and fourth grade. I helped Julie Von Notstitz run the basketball clinics on Saturday mornings.  Later, when my son Dylan was in eighth grade, I asked his coach, Greg Pippen, if I could be his assistant.  The following season John Jury, the AD, asked me if I would coach the fifth-sixth grade girls basketball team. I got to coach my daughters for a few seasons with Doug Biggs, David Schaaf and John Kassebaum. I then moved to seventh-eighth grade grade girls which I have coached with Tom Brammer, Marcus Woods, Chris Walker and Mike Ackerman for the last few years.  In total, this will be my 11th season coaching CSAA basketball.

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

My favorite part about my faith is belonging to a Catholic parish community.  My children are all in college now, so coaching allows me to stay involved with the school and meet families that I otherwise may never have had the opportunity to know on a personal basis. 

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

Throughout my childhood I was fortunate to have many people make sacrifices and volunteer their time for me, starting with my parents.  Outside of them, my old Scoutmaster Joe Rich probably had the most influence.  Joe was a very generous man.  He had a great sense of humor, was role model and most importantly, he was a lifelong friend to me and lots of other scouts from Troop 194.

What are your major themes/principles as a volunteer?

Our coaching philosophy is pretty simple, we want all the girls to have fun, compete and learn or improve upon their fundamental basketball skills.  Our goal is for the seventh grade girls to have such a good time they can’t wait to play again in eighth grade and the eighth grade girls to have great memories of their last season of basketball at St. Agnes.

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

All three of my children were blessed to have great coaches at St. Agnes and I am just trying to give back a little.  Both of my daughters have helped me coach at different times over the years so hopefully all three of my children will also “give back” by volunteering more as they move into adulthood. 

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

Coaching has given me a lot of great memories.  Years ago I got to spend quality time with my own children and their friends. Now I get to meet new families and kids.  My best memories are the times spent talking at practice or before games.  I really enjoy spending time with the kids I coach and getting to know them.  They keep me young and make me laugh.  They make me laugh a lot.  


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