June 28, 2019

Coach sets foundation for focus on teamwork

By John Shaughnessy

David GordenAt the beginning of each season, David Gorden shared his primary goal with the girls on the teams he coached.

“I have no idea what your relationships are off the court,” he’d begin. “But when we’re on the court and off the court, we’re part of a team. No drama here, no reality show. We need to be friends. We need to be family. We need to support each other.”

It was a clear message that solid relationships would be the foundation of any success the players would have in a sport that demands teamwork—volleyball.

It was also a defining indication that Gorden was striving for something more in his 18 years of coaching the sport at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Indianapolis. Now 60, he was known for taking the time to mentor younger coaches. At the same time, he always saw the importance of bringing back former players to help with his teams.

“I loved bringing them back when they were in high school and college to provide a challenge for our girls in practice and be role models for them,” says Gorden, a recipient of a 2019 St. John Bosco Award, the highest honor from the archdiocese’s Catholic Youth Organization (CYO).

Another thrill dates back to his earliest coaching days when he coached his two daughters, Carrie and Claire.

“Once Carrie was out of school and living here in town, she was an assistant on my teams until the end,” notes Gorden, who retired from coaching a year ago. “To see the transformation from a fourth-grade player to a 29-year-old assistant coach was a lot of fun.”

Coaching at the highest level of CYO, Gorden thrived on preparing his seventh- and eighth-grade players for high school sports, trying to develop the seriousness and focus they would need, “while at the same time to have fun.”

He also stressed that his players respect referees and show their appreciation to their parents for their support—more parts of his focus on relationships.

“Winning a city championship, nothing beats that. But some of the most fun moments were off the court, driving to the match and listening to the girls chatter about their friendships, like you’re a fly on the wall. Seeing how they relate to each other and interact are some of my favorite moments.” †

 

Related: Archbishop praises CYO honorees for letting God’s grace shine through them

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