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Episodes2020-02-28T04:22:15-05:00

CSR 104 Jay Stricherz

Jay Stricherz Episode 104 25 JAN 2021 A PAC-12 Conference Football supervisor, having previously been a PAC-10 and PAC-12 Conference football referee for 34 years, including having officiated over 20 bowl games, which saw him do two Cotton Bowls, two

CSR 103 Dr. Rosemary Buckle

Dr. Rosemary Buckle Episode 103 18 JAN 2021 An orthopedic surgeon who sees a lot of athletes, she is an avid runner, not only having ran track in high school and college but she has done three IronMan races and

CSR 102 Paul Jarzynka

Paul Jarzynka Episode 102 11 JAN 2021 The new head men’s tennis coach at Eastern Illinois University after having been assistant men’s and women’s tennis coach at Belmont Abbey College.  Previously he had been a volunteer assistant coach at Wright

CSR 101 Kathy Litzau

Kathy Litzau Episode 101 4 JAN 2021 The Senior Associate Athletics Director at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, including serving as the sport administrator for men’s soccer, women’s basketball, and men’s & women’s swimming and diving, among other responsibilities.  Previously

CSR 100 Randy Awrey

Randy Awrey Episode 100 28 DEC 2020 The Head Football Coach at Perquimans County High School in North Carolina. He was a successful NCAA head football coach for 21 years, being named conference coach of the year seven times and

CSR 99 Niko Palazeti

Niko Palazeti Episode 99 21 DEC 2020 The Assistant Director of Strength and Conditioning for football at Ohio State University. He previously worked in similar positions at the University of Maryland and at Mississippi State University. As a student-athlete he

CSR 98 Fr. Dale Grubba

Fr. Dale Grubba Episode 98 14 DEC 2020 He has run 63 marathons and hand cycled an additional twenty. He had coached Cross Country at Holy Name Seminary in Madison, Wisconsin, for ten years, including winning a state championship. He
CSR 104 Jay Stricherz2021-01-24T19:45:45-05:00

Jay Stricherz

Episode 104

25 JAN 2021

A PAC-12 Conference Football supervisor, having previously been a PAC-10 and PAC-12 Conference football referee for 34 years, including having officiated over 20 bowl games, which saw him do two Cotton Bowls, two Sugar Bowls, and two Fiesta Bowls. In addition, he spent nine years as a softball coach at a Catholic high school in Tacoma, Washington.

Guest quotes:

“(I) absolutely loved working there with students and families that had a lot of needs, more than the average or most families.  So, certainly a real ministry… I knew that’s what I wanted to do to help others.”

“(I) loved the aspect of being a part of a team, being a part of something much bigger than just yourself, and committing to the team concept.”

“I think being Catholic was probably the number one thing that we were.  No matter what we were, we were Catholic.”

“There’s five of us in the family and it was Mass every Sunday.  If we were traveling it was going to Mass.  We were going to confession once a month.  And during Lent we were saying the rosary every night.  Looking back on it particularly, it was wonderful – a wonderful faith upbringing.”

“I would, through the years, say my own kind of silent, quiet prayers before games.”

“I went from being a head linesman on the crew… and I became the referee… So, I started to ask for a little more help from the good Lord than I had previously.”

“I got through a series of prayers that I would always say before the games, personally myself.  I’d say the rosary myself and then I’d say a series of prayers.”

“Our crew, we started having a pre-game prayer, a pre-game little session of inspiration.”

“I belong to an ecumenical prayer group with eleven men.  We meet every other Tuesday morning and we go through the gospels and all the New Testament and the Hebrew scriptures and it’s a wonderful aspect of learning about one another.”

“If you’ve got kids that are in a local Catholic school you’re gonna get involved yourself… So, I got on a number of committees… and became a part of the Board of Directors… and got into the Ignatian spirituality.”

“Through sports there is a lot of spirituality and a lot of opportunity to pass on God’s Word and Christ’s Word.”

CSR 103 Dr. Rosemary Buckle2021-01-20T16:09:41-05:00

Dr. Rosemary Buckle

Episode 103

18 JAN 2021

An orthopedic surgeon who sees a lot of athletes, she is an avid runner, not only having ran track in high school and college but she has done three IronMan races and approximately 20 marathons. In her college days she was also a student athletic trainer at Notre Dame. (Have tissues handy for her story about halfway through the interview.)

Guest quotes:

“Our Catholic faith was very important, sort of center, in our life.  We went to Mass every Sunday without fail.  We attended Sunday school from a very young age, all the way through high school.  We ate dinner together and prayed before dinner every single day as a family.  And so, the Catholic faith was front and center in our life.”

“I decided for Christmas that I would try to find a priest who could come to… my parents’ home and say Mass there for a very small group, there were just eight of us there.  And fortunately, one of the Jesuit priests in town who doesn’t have a parish was able to do that and I think that was the highlight of my parents’ Christmas Day.”

“I have a brother who is also a very strong Catholic.  He has a Catholic counseling service in Houston that’s a not-for-profit.”

“For a Catholic, Notre Dame is a place where you can immerse yourself in your Catholic faith and you don’t have to apologize for it.  You don’t have to hide from it.”

“The swim part of the ironman (competition), which to me is the hardest part.  It’s over two miles.  It’s extremely solitary.  You can’t see anybody, talk to anybody.  And so, I would pray the rosary while I would swim.”

“As a Catholic, my whole life I’ve been a very strong believer in life, in the preservation of life.  For whatever it’s worth I’m a very staunch advocate for life and I’m against abortion.”

“I know that God doesn’t ever give us something that we can’t handle.  He gives us the strength and the courage to get through very difficult things.”

“I thank God for giving me the brains and the hands to be able to help people.”

“I just think that that’s a ministry and I’m able to help other people.  And, believe me, I realize that.  I couldn’t do it without the help from my parents, but more importantly, the blessing from God.”

CSR 102 Paul Jarzynka2021-01-10T16:23:07-05:00

Paul Jarzynka

Episode 102

11 JAN 2021

The new head men’s tennis coach at Eastern Illinois University after having been assistant men’s and women’s tennis coach at Belmont Abbey College.  Previously he had been a volunteer assistant coach at Wright State University while also teaching professionally at a tennis club. He also taught professionally at the Michigan State Indoor Tennis Center, was an assistant varsity tennis coach at Lansing Catholic School, and was an instructor at Michigan State Nike Tennis Camps, all after having played collegiate tennis at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Guest quotes:

“I’m originally from Jackson, Michigan… Born and raised Catholic, grew up going to Queen of the Miraculous Medal parish… I think my parents did a really good job raising us with the faith… My mom always had a weekly holy hour, Eucharistic adoration… We would pray the rosary as a family.”

“I chose tennis because, it was, the final exam for, like, freshman Lit(erature) class, we had to pick a poem and, I don’t know, I just randomly flipped to a page and I read, by Robert Frost, ‘The Road Not Taken,’ and that one just really spoke to me… and you look back and that’s God working through that moment and that text.”

“In high school I was really, really involved with different campus ministry things, like leading retreats, led a couple Kairos retreats.  We had a sophomore retreat we put on called Tenui.  The high school I went to was a Catholic high school run by the oblates of St. Francis de Sales… We had a men’s group that was awesome, my junior and senior year.  We were talking about different things as a guy you’re kind of going through in high school and spinning it more into the Catholic light.  I still, things that we talked about and things that we did then, they still kind of come out in my everyday life.”

“You can be successful in whatever field you’re in and also be a really faithful person and fuse those and mix those together.”

“I consciously was like, sports and virtue and faith, like, the world is telling us that those don’t go together, but… at Franciscan (University), it really does go together.  In fact, it has to go together, because if it doesn’t, it’s not going to work here.”

“In the eyes of people in high school I had a really vibrant faith, and I was really involved in all these retreats.  It’s like, immediately, I should be a priest.  Which, that could’ve been a great calling for me too.”

“It was really clear from God that Franciscan (University) was the place.  That’s where He was calling me to be.”

“I think sometimes people think that, faith-wise, you can’t always use your sport… as a place that (you) can really evangelize.  And I think that’s kind of an old school misconception from people.”

“You have to be dependent on God and dependent on Him in the process.”

“We’re coming to this, we’re making this jump (moving to Illinois) because we really felt like this is what God was calling us to do.  And different things fall in place and it’s not just chance, it’s not just coincidence, I mean, this is clearly what God wants us to do.  And I think too, you pray for certain things… and He answers, and I think in a lot of ways this is an answer to our prayers… It’s exactly what we’ve really been praying for.”

“My coaching moves, our moves together as a family, God and His Will for us is at the absolute center of it.”

“As long as you’re focused on God and He’s the center of your life, you know it’s going to be great.  It’s going to be okay.”

Related link:

Paul’s bio on Eastern Illinois University website

(This episode contains a prayer from the South Bend Indiana Inner-City Catholic League, as seen in Play Like A Champion Today’s prayerbook for sports, God, Be In My Sport)
CSR 101 Kathy Litzau2021-01-03T21:32:05-05:00

Kathy Litzau

Episode 101

4 JAN 2021

The Senior Associate Athletics Director at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, including serving as the sport administrator for men’s soccer, women’s basketball, and men’s & women’s swimming and diving, among other responsibilities.  Previously she spent 14 years as the head women’s volleyball coach at Milwaukee, where her teams compiled a remarkable 118-14 record in Horizon League play over her last ten seasons. In 2017 she was inducted into the Milwaukee Athletics Hall of Fame. Earlier in her career she was an assistant coach at three different universities, after having been a standout volleyball player at the University of Notre Dame.

Guest quotes:

(on what was helpful moving on to a public school after a Catholic elementary school) “The foundation, the base that was provided from the Catholic elementary, and then the religious programs that we attended, the CCD classes that we attended through my middle school years and my high school years.  But really, I would say the faith of my parents… They’re just incredible faith models for me and my brothers.”

“I was fortunate enough to have been recruited by quite a few schools and when I was finalizing my list of schools that I was going to visit, my dad pulled me aside and he asked if I would just do him one favor, and if I could please just visit Notre Dame.  And, I was raised in an Irish Catholic family and had never honestly visited campus… When I did go on the visit… I felt like I was home… I really felt… that I was being called to go to the University of Notre Dame.”

“I played because of the love for the sport and that’s what I try to tell young athletes; do it because you love it, not because you’re trying to get something.”

“The way Notre Dame is set up is, each of the dorms has a chapel… and that would be such a great night on a Sunday night, we would all come together and we would all have, we’d all be still busy in what we were doing — our studies, our jobs, our sports — but then in that moment to see all of my peers come together to pray, to thank God for what’s behind us, and to pray for what’s in front of us, and to just be in that moment together, it really was so fulfilling.”

“That calmingness, having that sense come over after hearing the gospel, and every week there’s something there that speaks to me that helps keep me focused.”

“I felt a calling to teach our confirmation classes… And then, I also wanted to use the talents that I had to assist our church, and they started sports for anybody that goes to the school or participates in the faith formation programs, kids could play on those sports teams.  So I thought with my background in the sport of volleyball, this is something that I, obviously, should step up and give back to the school.”

“One of my favorite memories at Notre Dame before a game was with our priest, to say the Hail Mary before every game.”

“My goal as a head coach was to always assist them through their experience as a student-athlete to grow as people, to be stronger as an individual, and to walk away – graduate after four years – being confident in who they are as a person and be ready to tackle anything that the world presents for them.  So, what I really tried to do as a coach, especially on the volleyball court, was prepare them for anything, so that when that adversity struck, they were ready for it in the sense that they knew that they could get through it.”

“As a parent to keep telling (her kids) you are unique, God has made you who you are, you have all the talents and abilities to be exactly who God wants you to be, and as a parent, kids will listen but half-listen because they’re looking to the outside world to give them affirmation.”

Related links:

Kathy’s bio on UWM website

Milwaukee Athletics Hall of Fame video on Kathy

(This episode contains a prayer from the National Catholic Coaches Association’s “The Leadership Papers,” although originally credited in there to The Coach’s Bible.)
CSR 100 Randy Awrey2020-12-24T14:31:38-05:00

Randy Awrey

Episode 100

28 DEC 2020

The Head Football Coach at Perquimans County High School in North Carolina. He was a successful NCAA head football coach for 21 years, being named conference coach of the year seven times and being inducted into the Hall of Fame at four different universities. As a student-athlete he was the MVP of the Northern Michigan University national championship team, which was the first team in any sport to ever go from a zero and ten won-lost record to national champions the next year.

Guest quotes:

“When I was young… we’d go to church but that was kind of like ‘Check, done’ thing and move on.  And I think that as I’ve grown, I’ve obviously matured a whole lot more into my faith and have gotten a lot closer to Jesus Christ.”

“The older I got, the more I saw that that hole in my heart had to be filled and Jesus was the only one that could do it.”

“My father was in Knights of Columbus and he distributed Communion to the local nursing homes.  He also was an usher… My mom taught CCD classes.  My brother and I were altar boys.”

“The athletic part of it, that’s where — as a child and even as a young adult when I got into high school — that becomes your god, ya’ know, your athletics, your newspaper clippings… and everybody’s patting you on the back… You put other things more important.”

“That’s where we fall into that trap, is, we start reading our own press clippings and we start believing in how good we are and really don’t realize that God gave us those talents and God gave us those abilities.”

“Throughout my sporting career I went from praying to win games and then praying to not get hurt… to praying to do well, to be able to be a good teammate, to eventually praying that what I did would be a glow in God’s eyes.  And so, you go from ‘it’s all about me,’ to showing God to other people.”

“In my life when I seemed to want to do it myself and I wanted to try to do everything because I was big enough and fast enough and strong enough and good enough, it’s like pushing a car uphill.  And when I would let God drive and I’d let God do the work, it’s like pushing it downhill.”

“I wasn’t good enough to make it in the NFL.  And, I thought I was and I thought that’d be my career and I thought that’s what I’d be doing with the rest of my life but God had a different plan and He had a much better plan and He always does.”

“When I recruited, when I hired coaches, everything involved with the program, your managers, your trainers, everyone has to be on the same page, and I always felt if we didn’t have the right philosophy we couldn’t be on the same page.  So… we said your priorities are going to be with your faith, your family, your education, your football team, and yourself.”

“I had a chaplain come in and he would — ya’ know, God provided at every one of the schools, a different man each time, who was able to come in and — put together chapels before the game, FCA… type things one day a week… We’d have study halls with our kids, but we’d allow ’em to go to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting instead.”

Related link:

2-minute video: NMU 1975 National Championship Team (Randy was selected MVP)

(This episode contains a prayer from the National Catholic Coaches Association’s “The Leadership Papers,” although originally credited in there to The Coach’s Bible.)
CSR 99 Niko Palazeti2020-12-20T22:01:39-05:00

Niko Palazeti

Episode 99

21 DEC 2020

The Assistant Director of Strength and Conditioning for football at Ohio State University. He previously worked in similar positions at the University of Maryland and at Mississippi State University. As a student-athlete he was a three-year member of the Michigan State football team after having been an all-state football player for Detroit Catholic Central High School. Listen for the extremely powerful testimony that he shares about suffering a career-ending injury!

Guest quotes:

“The thing that was really exciting for me was I was in all these sports, all these different activities, with all these guys and they were my friends, but they were going to the high school that I was going to, and they were also parish members at Our Lady of Victory Church in Northville, Michigan… It kind of all was a perfect transition into a path into the church.”

“I was blessed enough to get a full ride scholarship to Michigan State to play football there… It was divine… it was a miracle.”

“They really do an incredible job of teaching you what it looks like to be a man of God… and to exude that in everything you do.”

“I was blessed enough and I do honestly believe that I was put to Michigan State… potentially not even to play football but to get into my career path.”

“My identity was based on who I was as a football player.  Unfortunately, the reality was that it was part of who I was.  It was part of how people identified me.  It was how I kind of communicated myself to others, was that I played football.  And it was a part of who I was.”

“I drove back to my apartment, punching the steering wheel, cursing God.  I was furious.  I was crying.  I was upset.”

“I just remember going and just praying, and just praying and being still and it allowed me to just be still in the fact and God really kind of spoke to my heart, and I just prayed that whatever His intentions for my life was, that I trust it and allow Him to work through me.  And it was a simple prayer, but I just remember feeling a lot of peace.”

“When you play college football, when you play college athletics, when you play athletics in general, it’s very stressful because a lot of times you’re performance-based.  But you’re performance-based because you think that your success determines your value.”

“In the spring of 2013, me and my best friends, we all went to South Africa… on a mission trip and it was incredible.”

“What are you worshiping?  Are you worshiping your sport?  Are you worshiping your career?  Are you worshiping your value or your worth or whatever?  Your reputation?  What are you valuing?  What are you worshiping?”

“(My wife) has actually been leading an Advent reading every Sunday.  And I think that’s really cool because a lot of times in our relationship I’ve been the one that’s been leading our faith life.”

Related link:

Niko’s bio on OSU website

CSR 98 Fr. Dale Grubba2020-12-13T21:40:12-05:00

Fr. Dale Grubba

Episode 98

14 DEC 2020

He has run 63 marathons and hand cycled an additional twenty. He had coached Cross Country at Holy Name Seminary in Madison, Wisconsin, for ten years, including winning a state championship. He was also head coach of the Holy Name Seminary track team for eight years, also winning a state championship. In 2000 he was inducted into the Wisconsin Cross Country Association’s Hall of Fame.  He has also been an auto racing photographer and journalist, and has written seven books.  He has been a parish priest since 1966, including St. John’s in Princeton, Wisconsin, where he has been for 35 years, and St. James in Neshkoro, Wisconsin, where he has been for 20 years.

Guest quotes:

“I can’t tell you how blessed I’ve been.  I could never have picked a better vocation just simply because the Holy Spirit has always been with me to push me to new boundaries and to new adventures.”

“My choice was really to go and to be with people.  And I’ve loved doing that in my parish life and I’ve loved it also in my racing life.  I consider the auto racing part of my life a third parish that I have.”

“I always thought of those sports – like whether it was running marathons or whether it was coaching, but especially in the field of auto racing – I always thought that those were my way of connecting with people, and especially with people that might not be going to church.”

“So he was lying there in his coma and I said, ‘Bobby’ – ’cause I flew with him in his private plane quite often – I said, ‘Bobby, let’s do what you do when you take off in your airplane,’ ’cause he would always invite everybody, Catholic or non-Catholic, to make the Sign of the Cross.  And so I said, ‘Bobby, let’s make the Sign of the Cross.’  And he made the Sign of the Cross!  And that was his first coordinated movement after being in that coma for a long, long time.”

“What Kurt (Busch) wanted me to do was to say Mass for him in the morning, but then stand right by his car and give him a blessing before the start of the race.  And I was to be the last person that left his car.”

“For the millennium, I was in New Zealand running the first marathon of the new era.  But not only that, I got up at midnight – and I don’t think there are many Catholics in New Zealand – so I got up at midnight and said Mass.  And I thought to myself, ‘I’m the first priest to say Mass in the new millennium’.”

Related links:

Books Fr. Grubba has published