September 14, 2018

High school student-athletes give their hearts to the game, and their souls to the faith

Pictured from left to right are high school athletes Maggie Schoening, Trent Reichley, Claire Williams, Natalie Boesing and Timmy Godsil. (Submited photos)

Pictured from left to right are high school athletes Maggie Schoening, Trent Reichley, Claire Williams, Natalie Boesing and Timmy Godsil. (Submited photos)

By John Shaughnessy (First of two parts)

In sports, perhaps the greatest compliment that athletes receive can be summed up in these words: “They give their heart and their soul.”

As another fall season of high school sports unfolds, The Criterion is featuring some of the Catholic school student‑athletes from across the archdiocese who give their hearts to their game, and who give their souls to their faith.

To help with the project, athletic directors at each of the Catholic high schools in central and southern Indiana were asked to nominate student-athletes who represent that heart-and-soul combination. From these nominations, The Criterion has selected one athlete from each school to feature, with the added focus of making sure that each high school sport played in the fall is represented.

We realize this story doesn’t do justice to all the student-athletes who approach their sports with a heart-and-soul attitude, but we believe our readers will be inspired by the ones who are featured here.

‘I could see the love we were showing’

The turning point for Maggie Schoening came in an unusual way this past summer—repairing roofs on homes in a struggling part of Mississippi.

Before that week in July, Maggie had been searching for something more in her life as she prepared for her senior year at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis.

She wanted to reignite her Catholic faith and her relationship with God. She wanted to live in a way that brought out her best qualities, the ones that would draw her closer to other people.

In making the repairs for people in need, Maggie also restored herself.

“That mission trip touched my life,” says Maggie about the work she did with 30 girls from across the nation. “I could see the love we were showing to help these people. Now I’m striving to become a better version of myself every day.”

She’s followed that approach as a member of Roncalli’s volleyball team, providing leadership and an upbeat attitude for her teammates while showing sportsmanship for their opponents.

She has also begun to use her voice in a distinctive way, in addition to how she sings “The Star Spangled Banner” before every home volleyball game.

“Because my faith in Christ is stronger, I’ve been trying to live out my faith in my daily actions,” says Maggie, 17, a member of Holy Name Parish in Beech Grove.

“I need to step up for my Catholic faith with my classmates and teachers. And I’m starting to do that. Through the Church and the people of the Church, I can be the person Christ wants me to be.”

‘Make sure the glory is not your own’

As the athletic director for Seton Catholic High School in Richmond, Trent Tremain offers the best tribute an adult can give when he talks about senior soccer player Trent Reichley: “I tell my own kids to watch the example that Trent sets. He lives out his faith in Jesus Christ every day.”

At 17, Trent directs the credit for his approach in life to his family, his community and the Catholic schools he’s attended since preschool.

“Selflessness and determination and real love are so much a part of the Christian faith,” Trent says. “I’ve always been taught to show great love. You can be great in life, but make sure the glory is not your own. When you figure out what you want to do in life, you have to do it for something bigger than yourself.”

Trent kept that approach early in this season even as he scored the game‑winning penalty kick to help upset the top-ranked team in a contest of Class 1A schools in Indiana.

“Doing it for yourself is empty. Doing it for something else, someone else, makes you push harder. When I step on the field, I do it for the glory of my God, my faith, my family and my school.”

‘I find God most of all in other people’

The powerful reminder for Claire Williams came right before the golf match against one of her school’s biggest rivals.

Claire and her teammates from Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis joined with the members of the team from Heritage Christian High School in Indianapolis, sharing a prayer and listening to one of the coaches offer this thought: “It’s not all about golf. It’s not all about today. Our true purpose is beyond this golf course. We’re here to serve God.”

It’s a perspective that Claire tries to embrace.

“My Catholic faith plays a reality check for me,” says the 17-year-old senior, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis. “It keeps me grounded. If I’m having a rough day, I know God is there for me, that’s it’s just a bump in the road on my journey of faith.”

Claire focuses on sharing that journey with others.

“I find God most of all in other people. Some people don’t recognize Jesus in those relationships, but I do. I think God works through you, especially if you’re speaking from your heart.

“With sports teams, you get a family feeling. Those strong relationships always have the potential to carry the presence of Christ.”

‘I always ask God for help’

The time right before the start of a race is nerve-racking for Natalie Boesing, knowing all the mental and physical challenges that she and her teammates will face throughout the 3.1-mile course.

To ease the tension, Natalie has established two rituals as the captain of the girls’ cross country team at Our Lady of Providence High School in Clarksville.

The first is to pray together. The second is to write a shared Bible verse on their wrists.

“When it’s a tough part of the race, we’ll look down at our wrist, and we’ll know that God is there for us and will help us with whatever we need to finish the race,” says the 16-year-old junior, a member of Holy Family Parish in New Albany.

Natalie learned the Bible-verse-on-the-wrist ritual from a senior runner when she was a freshman. She made it a priority for this year’s team, and hopes the tradition will continue even after she graduates.

It all reflects her relationship with God.

“I always ask God for help because he guides me. I’m a strong believer that he has a plan for all of us. I put my full trust and belief in him.”

‘There’s no limit to what we can do’

Timmy Godsil has a way of finding God in every part of his life.

The 15-year-old youth finds God when he brings food and clothing to the homeless in downtown Indianapolis on many Saturdays throughout the year.

“In our Catholic faith, the Lord saved the world one person at a time,” Timmy says. “That’s how we can imitate him.”

The sophomore at Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in Indianapolis seeks to move closer to God by being there for eucharistic adoration when it’s scheduled on early mornings at the school.

“He’s someone I can talk to all the time. He’s full of wisdom. I thank him.”

A member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, Timmy also sees God when he steps onto the football field as a tight end for the Raiders.

“Football is the greatest team sport. It’s like our Catholic faith. You have to believe everyone on your team will be working together, staying together. When we do it as one body, there’s no limit to what we can do.”

There’s also no limit to the impact his Catholic faith has on his life.

“It’s my rock. I try to base everything I do on my Catholic faith. It gives me inspiration. It gives me wisdom. It’s everything.”
 

(Student-athletes from Brebeuf Jesuit, Cathedral, Father Thomas Scecina Memorial, Father Michael Shawe Memorial, Oldenburg Academy of the Immaculate Conception and Providence Cristo Rey high schools will be featured in an upcoming issue.)

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