Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Things I Love...Sports & Spirituality Style

One of my favorite blogs, Chic Coastal Living regularly posts photo collages entitled "Things I Love." I'm sure you have seen something like it. Without fail, something that the creator Desiree posts, resonates with me. 

One of my goals this summer is to learn how to create a similar posting. For now, I will create one that combines sports and spirituality in list form.

1. The term "wheels."

When an athlete is fast, you gotta say "he/she has great wheels." The image speaks for itself. As the word implies, this person can motor.

If you have wheels—yes—you can sprint, but it's different. 

I love the word "hustle" and believe you me, I appreciate every athlete who does—it's not a given. A person with wheels can move the ball. When the man on first has good ones, it's exciting to see what "Wheels" can and will do.

2. A good eucharistic minister.

I don't like the notion that we only appreciate the good when we know the bad, but that theory may apply in my ever deepening appreciation of a good eucharistic minister.

Administering the body and blood of Christ is an important task. And those who do so with direct eye contact, confident words, and even a small sense of joy enable me to receive the bread and wine with a prayerful gratitude and reverence. 

Those who are too controlling with the chalice or look over my shoulder as they raise the host make me appreciate those EMs who deliver the Lord with a positive presence.

3. The skirt in sports.
I played 18-holes at one of the most beautiful golf courses in Northern California yesterday. The setting and weather could not have been any more picture perfect...and yet I was distracted by one thing, and that thing has a name: golf skirt envy. 

The woman playing behind us had this fantastic Ping golf skirt. Rather than giving all of my attention to the task at hand, I thought too much about where I could purchase one like it. Some skirts just make sports better. 

I've never thought skirts and sports need be mutually exclusive. I still love the red tennis skirt issued to my teammates at Carondelet High School. Never a fan of the tennis dress, I am however pleased to see that running skirts are more popular. 

While a skirt just isn't practical for certain sports like volleyball or rowing, for those like lacrosse players who reference "skirts and sticks" quite often, the uniform can be an added bonus of playing on a team.

4. Pentecost.
It's the birthday of the Church; a good parish might even have a cake to celebrate. This feast day is one of my favorites because the prayers, psalms, and songs honor the Holy Spirit. Veni Sancte Spiritus or Come Holy Spirit, the underrated person of the Trinity.

Although I am sad to see the Easter Season come to a close, the Feast of Pentecost reminds we that we all have been called to go out and make disciples of all nations.

Co-CEO and host John Brenkus
5. ESPN's Sport Science
What teacher doesn't love a good cross-curricular connection? The buck should never stop at sports and spirituality. In 2007, ESPN contributed to the conversation with Sports Science—which according to its host, John Brenkus, allows "audiences to experience and appreciate the science behind the most extreme events."

I'm glad they did. The challenges and feats they explore with professional athletes reveal why they're professional. It humanizes and hero-izes them. 

I first found about Sports Science from my students who did a presentation on the "Beast Mode" of Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is much more than a caricature of himself. He's endowed with incredible physical strength, speed, and drive. 

While I'm unable to calculate any trajectory of x, the velocity of y or the magnitude of z, I know there are students in my classroom who can and may have to in their next class.

6. A priest's first mass.
This past Sunday, I attended the first Mass of Fr. Tony Vallecillo, a new priest for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. In attendance were his family and a great number of his friends—the very men and women who made his vocation to religious life possible.

Catholic San Francisco writes
He was baptized and confirmed at 2 weeks old, but said that growing up he was not interested in his Catholic faith and left the Church for 13 years. However, strong personal encounters with God led him back in his early 30s where he joined "an active spirit-filled parish," St. Dominic in San Francisco, and through the young adults group he  strengthened and deepened his faith. "It was through people in that group that I heard God's call for me to the priesthood...!"
Even though he was not called to be a Dominican priest, Fr. Tony wanted to celebrate this liturgy at a true spiritual home for him (and many others in the congregation). 

Pentecost reminds us that "We are all witnesses." Attending the first mass is no different.

7. Boomer Eiosan's "Sports Minute."
Who doesn't want to start their day with a little nugget of sports wisdom? Boomer Esiason and his CBS Sports Minute offers me something to chew on. 

As written on the CBS Sports Radio page, 
Boomer Esiason, who quarterbacked the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals during a 14-year NFL career, now contributes minute long sports commentary updates hourly on CBS Sports Radio, as a part of the network’s CBS Sports Minute feature.
Thanks to Esiason, I now know what an "Immaculate Inning" is. They are rare, which is why I had not heard about them until this past week. You can probably figure out what it is....if you can't, chew on it.

Answer: Nine pitches/3 Strikeouts. The pitcher throws perfectly).

8. The Incarnation
This should come as no surprise, but reading Father Jim Martin's new book, "Jesus, A Pilgrimage" reminds me of why my Christian faith is remarkable. God became one of us; His name is Jesus.

Martin addresses its importance
But God wanted to meet us where we are. So God came, first of all, as a human being, as something—someone—other men and women could approach. God is not only a flaming bush, a pillar of fire, or even a mysterious cloud, as God is described in various places in the Old Testament. God is one of us.
From his birth, to His friendships, His work and ministry, His teaching and preaching, love and life, His death and His triumph, I never want to take this for granted. Thank you JC (and if we're going to recognize Jesus as human, that means I would shorten his name in class...on the field...etc)

9. The Song/Sports Parodies of KNBR's Murph & Mac 
While Brian Murphy is clearly the sports leader, What Paul McCaffrey brings in terms of musical talent, knowledge, reference and more makes the show what it is—a great way to start my day.

It doesn't matter how bad my day is going when they play their music parodies to honor a particular Bay Area athlete, I cannot help but smile. Not a forced or fake one...ear to ear.

My all time favorite is "75" set to "Staying Alive." Others include "Hunter's Eyes" (a tip of the hat to Hunter Pence/set to Hall and Oates' "Private Eyes") and "Bogut Nights" (Andrew Bogut/Boogie Nights).  Thanks, Paulie Mac. I hope your creative juices flow for many years!

Photo Credits

John Brenkus
Murph & Mac
Fr. Tony

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