(PROVIDENCE)-If the weather is getting cooler and it’s time for basketball season again. For youth athletes on many teams this means balancing homework and practices, buying new sneakers and practicing free throws. But for the thousands of basketball players that comprise the Catholic Athletic League the opening of the season has even more meaning.
“For a lot of these young players, athletics is the only youth ministry they will ever participate in,” said Merrie Densmore, an administrative assistant for the league, “We try to be sure that the players remember that they are Catholics first, athletes second.” Every game played by the CAL?starts with a prayer at center court to emphasize the importance faith plays in the game.
This past weekend, 56 center court prayers were said to kick off the busy opening weekend of CAL’s basketball season. There are 100 school teams and 225 parish teams in the league, and 10-12 children on each team. The divisions cover every grade level, from elementary to high school. Basketball is by far the biggest athletic offering of the league, but tennis, soccer, volleyball and running are also popular sports in the league.
According to the CAL Mission Statement, one of the league’s goals is, “Continually modeling the Golden Rule through Spiritual growth, recognition of human dignity, respectful actions, good sportsmanship and ethical conduct.” Director of Youth Ministry Louise Dussault says this mission statement is applicable to many aspects of the athlete’s life; “How you win and lose are a measure of how you are as a person and as a Catholic.”
Coaches are encouraged to promote the youth ministry aspect of the basketball league. They teach that “The people you are playing against are not objects,” says Dussualt, “they are human beings.”
For a complete schedule, log onto, www.thericatholic.com/cal