By Father Guillermo Treviño
For The Catholic Messenger
On Nov. 19, Regina High School in Iowa City won its eighth state title in football. As the chaplain of the team and school, I was able to be on the field with the team at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa, for the game.
At the St. Patrick Parish-Iowa City staff meeting earlier that same day, our youth minister, Sofia Livorsi, asked, “How did you get a ticket?” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds had issued a new proclamation on pandemic restrictions that limited attendance at sports events to two tickets per athlete. I mentioned that I was on the list for field passes, having prayed with the team at every game this season.
A state championship is an incredible accomplishment and I was celebrating with the team, taking pictures. I was as excited as the players, parents and fans. At the end of the game, after all the celebrations, Regina Head Coach, Marv Cook, gave an incredible speech.
In summary, he told the players to enjoy this experience, but make sure it’s not the highlight of their life. He never had the chance to play in the state semifinals and finals. He wished he had, but he never even sniffed it. “You are blessed to be at Regina, you are blessed to have the structure of the Catholic Church, you have teachers who make you better students, better young men,” he said.
I was blown away by the comment. Coach Cook, while not making it to a high school state tournament while in high school, was very successful himself with the Iowa Hawkeyes and played in the NFL for seven seasons, making the Pro Bowl twice. Yet here, in the biggest moment of many of their athletic lives, he was telling the players that there was more to life. This message can be relatable to all of us. Many of us focus on athletic and life achievements. However, there is more.
We Catholics are blessed to have the structure of the church, as Marv Cook said. We have an amazing faith, we have the sacraments, and we have many people who were put in our lives to make us saints and to be the best version of ourselves.
Coach Cook continued the speech by telling the players that if they work hard, as they did this season, “you will be more successful than you can imagine. I expect great things from every single one of you guys. I know how great you can be if you set your mind to it.”
Last weekend we celebrated Christ the King, who leads us into the first Sunday of Advent. I want to add the importance of the Lord in our lives. We can be so distracted by the world and success. However, no matter what we accomplish in life, Christ is King and that should be the first priority in our lives. Our faith is what matters, and what we do with it, not the state championship or any worldly thing that hinders us from our relationship with God.
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