Grand Rapids Area Catholic Elementary Athletic Council, more commonly referred to as GRACEAC, is doing more this year. Yes, more sports are added this year and there’s a growing number of participants, but they are also seeking more connection between the Catholic school day and evening athletics. The connection is a program called, “The Virtues of Greatness.”

“The program’s goal is to instill virtues into our young athlete’s hearts and minds as we teach them how to play the games we love,” said Brad Sturgell, GRACEAC Program Director. As coaching giants like Wooden, Lombardi and Krzyzewski proved over and over again, the more an athlete’s character is built and the less the focus is simply set on the outcome of the contest, a great paradox occurs – teams end up winning more games!

What is virtue? Virtue is the habitual choosing of the good. Coaches and parents will be given tools to teach our athletes how to grow in virtue and not only become better teammates, but also better people as well. “Simply put, our goal as Christians is to get our kids into heaven and coaches have a unique opportunity to assist them by integrating virtue into their daily lives through the training ground of sport.” said Brad.

Here is more detail on how they plan to do it:

Each week, coaches will receive a brief email from Brad detailing the virtue that will be incorporated into practice. The expectation is that this will take no more than 2-3 minutes at each practice. The idea is not to give a full-blown lesson, but a quick definition of each virtue and a talk on how it relates to the sport at hand.
From there, as much as possible, coaches will try to “catch” our athletes exhibiting the virtue and pointing it out to positively reinforce the action. This will be a process that hopefully will develop over years to come. Brad says, “As our coaches grow in their understanding of the virtues, it will become second nature as to how to incorporate this with their teams and achieve even greater success on the field of play, but more importantly, in the lives of our cherished youth.”
This is just another reason people continue to choose Catholic schools for their children. Students entrusted to us will grow in faith & grace, achieve more in school & life, develop creativity & character, and feel welcomed & cherished …on and off the field.

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