At St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School, members of the senior soccer teams are learning more than just tactics, strategy and skills specific to their sport; they’re learning how faith contributes to their game.
An athletes’ retreat gave senior soccer athletes a chance recently to pause from their training, and focus on their mental and spiritual wellbeing.
“High school sports are an integral part of the educational experience; they connect the body, mind and spirit,” said Sandra Moretuzzo, STM Physical and Health Education/Co-instructional Department Head and the Senior Boys Soccer Head Coach who coordinated the day of reflection using a detailed leaders’ guide on the University of Notre Dame’s “Play Like a Champion Today” retreat.
“The relationships built, the lessons learned and the memories made give athletes a great deal to think about, reflect upon and be thankful for. The lessons learned by high school athletes apply far beyond the field of play, helping students grow mentally, physically, and emotionally.”
The University of Notre Dame’s “Play Like a Champion Today” retreat is specifically designed for student-athletes to connect their athletic pursuits with their spiritual development and strengthen their Catholic faith. The retreat allows high school athletes to unpack the multi-dimensional nature of sports and explore how they nourish the mind, body and soul.
The program was introduced to Physical Education/Co-instructional Heads by retired Superintendent of Education Mary Cipolla as a way to strengthen the Catholic spirit of sport. Boys’ and girls’ senior soccer are the first teams to participate in the “Play Like a Champion Today” retreat at STM. The theme chosen from the guide for the soccer retreat was “Stride with Pride.”
The “Stride with Pride” retreat focused on team building and team cohesion within the context of faith. STM student athletes took part in icebreakers, team building activities, and group discussions on characteristics of successful teams, leadership trait identification, the creation of a team motto, and prayer and meditation, followed by an evaluation of the retreat experience.
The retreat experience builds on the STM school improvement plan which includes a focus on student voice and leadership, noted Moretuzzo: “It is through the creation and implementation of this retreat that student voices are heard as a result of student athletes being at the forefront in the development of the retreat theme and activities.”
“The Catholic community, culture and service system goal centres on the creation of a positive and inclusive Catholic school climate engaging students through an equitable, inclusive and supportive school environment fostering the development of body, mind and spirit,” she added. “Through this retreat experience, STM is providing opportunities for student voice and authentic self-expression.”
Moretuzzo plans to offer the retreat to teams from each sport throughout the year, and also extend the experience to competing schools “to participate together in the spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship.”