First I want to address some practical changes I am making for Holy Family teams taking part in CYO and after that the reason why the changes are being made. Sorry this is a few weeks later then it should be but I was waiting to find out if there was going to be CYO basketball this year because the old TCMS building (old Coyle building) is being sold and I did not know if they were going to be having it. But I was told they are having it.
First the changes are this: Registration for the CYO teams representing Holy Family will be on Sunday, Oct. 30th from 10:00am - 1:00pm. We will be running teams for boys and girls in grades 4-9. For those in high school (grades 10-12) and college aged we will not be having any more teams in CYO (I am inquiring about the possibility of holding drop in evenings for pick up basketball for high school and older (man and women) in a local gym. If we are able to do that I will let people know). Because so many of our teams were being formed outside the parish community and then signing up as Holy Family CYO, the new policy is teams will be formed out of those who sign-up on registration day and we will be not using teams that were pre-established or carrying over from last year. The majority of the players on our teams should be consisting of parishioners of Holy Family (so they are registered parishioners and are part of parish life).
Since some parishes do not have CYO, we will allow each team to have two players who are not parishioners (if there are many from some particular parish wanting to join our teams because their parish does not have a team, I will notify those parents about the extent of interest from their particular parish and this will give a chance for those parishioners to talk with their pastors about forming their own CYO teams). For those non-parishioners looking to join our teams they should register on the day of registration and then those playing will be chosen by drawing, unless it is clear their age bracket only has one or two non-parishioners signed-up then they will simply be plugged into the team. I have limited it to just two non-parishioners per team because we need to see the interest level of our own parishioners and if possible produce something that truly represents that our teams are from here (and from that foster more of a connection to the parish). Two may be too small of a limit but I needed to pick some amount to start with. Obviously there may be exceptions but they should be handled on a case by case basis. If non-parishioners' parishes do have teams, they should be joining their parish CYO teams (they are welcomed here but know there may be a possibility they may not make to 2 non-parishioner limit).
Also, our coaches should be parishioners as well (helping to foster the unity of a local community). No teams can be pre-established but all teams will be formed out of the registration which will take place Sunday, Oct. 30th at Holy Family Parish Center from 10:00am - 1:00pm.
Below is the reason why there was a need to make changes.
This year at Holy Family we are making some changes regarding CYO. CYO is a program which goes back many decades in our diocese (and dioceses throughout the US) which was a way of fostering youth ministry. It entailed many different events for the youth to connect with other youth and grow in their faith. It encompassed many time dances, trips, sports,prayer, and Mass as a team. But over the years many of those aspects of CYO have changed and it now mostly consists of sports (in our area, just basketball). With sports, it was kids from different parishes competing against other kids from other parishes (and it often helped foster a sense of an identity to their particular parish and where others were from). CYO sports was also a means to help foster sportsmanship and especially give kids who may not have a chance to plan in more competitive leagues a chance to play.
I am grateful to all the efforts our coordinators over the years have made to keep CYO going (special word of thanks to Mary Heim, Steve Gomes, and Mark Fowler who have been the coordinators since I have been here). I am grateful to all the volunteers who have coached the kids and given so much of their time.
But in CYO, a team from a parish it is meant to represent the parish. They represent the parish by their example, but also by the fact that the majority of players and coaches are actually from the parish. Regarding Holy Family, over the last few years the majority of the coaches and kids playing were not from our parish (I went through the rosters and most of the teams consisted of ten to eleven players and of those teams most only had two or three Holy Family parishioners on each of them. When I went to a coach's meeting last year, most of the coaches were not parishioners and had no idea who I was). In past years some coaches simply got together groups of athletic kids from other city sports leagues and just signed them up as a team for Holy Family. Even though it was wonderful to see so many kids taking part, it was frustrating knowing most were not from here and some were not representing what we should be standing for.
Also there are important issues that have subtly stirred over the years in CYO: There have been at times complaints of a lack of sportsmanship and overly competitiveness. Sometimes some teams are coached in a healthy well-balanced way, and other times some were coached as though they were competing for the world championship than for a children's CYO league. With some of the older players, there have been issues of kids having to be kicked out because of their inability to be respectful to others (whether it be towards other players, referees, or their coach). Regarding the younger kids, some of the children with less basketball skills were only seeing the required CYO minimal amount of time to play while others with more skills were receiving much more playing time so their team could win (even though all the kids on the teams were paying the same amount to be part of Holy Family CYO). Parents put their kids in CYO because it is supposed to be held to a higher standard and unfortunately for some people it has not a good experience. By so many not being parishioners, I found the efforts to foster the environment that our teams should have was not very successful.
Last spring I met with the Parish Council and there was consensus that we needed to make changes. We did talk about possibly canceling CYO completely. But this year we are going to try to create teams that are reflective of those who are part of our parish community. It is possible that with these changes we will not get the amount of kids to hold teams and if such is the case then CYO comes to an end at Holy Family (but hopefully we will get the amount of kids to join).
Obviously we want to support children having many opportunities to sports and exercise. But know CYO is not the only opportunity children can have to play. CYO is unique and should be representative of what the Church represents. As for other leagues in town that offer the chance for kids to play people should look into: Taunton Park and Recreation; Metro Basketball; and pick up games at YMCA.