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CHAMPS Club transforms sports culture

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The CHAMPS Club at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington counts students from almost every sport as members. CHAMPS stands for Character, Honor and Morality in Play by Student-Athletes. The club follows the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind. Play Like a Champion Today program, working to incorporate the Catholic faith into the everyday lives of student-athletes. The club strives to grow athletes on a spiritual and motivational level, and considers community service an important part of their mission.


“I found a need for a reformation in youth sports and the need for a transformation in youth sports culture,” said senior soccer player Maggie McDonough, who founded the club three years ago as a sophomore, and serves as the club’s president.


“Through Maggie’s consistent leadership and example of faith, I have seen the importance of reflection and fellowship in athletic competition,” said club faculty moderator Lisa Moynihan. “Students of all ages and abilities come together to discuss the virtues and challenges of playing team sports, reflecting on how faith can inform their practice, sportsmanship and performance. It is a beautiful reminder that the most important aspect of participation in sports is not winning, rather it is the physical and spiritual growth of self."


The CHAMPS Club members meet once a month. They start with prayer and a reflection on how they plan to include their faith that season. Meetings continue with a fun and friendly game of either basketball, handball or badminton.


One of the club’s most productive events has been the sports equipment drive. Members work to collect new or lightly used sports gear to be donated to “Level the Playing Field,” which gives sports gear to children in need. The drive is advertised throughout the school in morning announcements, and all students are encouraged to donate and get involved.


 “Going to a private Catholic school can be taken for granted, and sometimes we forget how fortunate we are,” said senior Kyle Leverone, golfer, hockey player and CHAMPS Club member. “The club is a great way to give back to others less fortunate in our community.”


Student-athletes are encouraged to keep God present with them at all times, including games, practice and team activities. “Being a member of CHAMPS helps me remember what is really important and what should be kept on the mind while I’m playing baseball,” added senior baseball player Peter Colevas.


"CHAMPS is a wonderful opportunity for student-athletes to compete with faith as an integral part of their sport,” said Father Gregory Thompson, school chaplain. “The fact that this club was student initiated is a reflection of the faith of our students."


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019