85th Annual Scholarship Drive

Through the decades of the drive, its goal remains the same: to support tuition assistance making it possible for students of all financial backgrounds to attend Saint Ignatius High School. The 85th annual Scholarship Drive is taking place January 20 - March 3, 2023.

Saint Ignatius High School

Coaches Recognized for Their Commitment to Ministry

This past year, MaxPreps recognized twenty-nine coaches as the "Best Coaches of 2022." It was no surprise that Saint Ignatius had two coaches who made the list: Mike McLaughlin ‘85 (boys soccer) and Pat O’Rourke ‘90 (boys ice hockey). Why was it no surprise? Because these men take their vocation seriously, and therefore their ministry flows from it.
Anyone who is tuned in to the world of high school sports, especially high-powered high school sports on the national level, has heard of MaxPreps.  Since 2002, they have tried to cover “every team, every game, and every player in high school sports.”  They have lived up to their intended mission, but unsurprisingly their bread and butter is and always will be the two-headed monster of football and basketball.

It is no surprise that MaxPreps is based in a place like El Dorado Hills, California.  Getting its name from the gold that flowed down from the American River, El Dorado Hills promised a fortune to anyone who was willing to put in the hard work necessary to mine or pan for gold.  It sounds like what MaxPreps is offering to talented high school athletes through the publicity that comes with having all of your games covered by a sports database website.

The proliferation of sites like MaxPreps, the focus given by ESPN and other networks, and the “tradition” of finding more and more “unique” ways to announce team choices on national signing day has turned the whole process into a bit of a circus.  Still, the addition of NIL (Name-Image-Likeness) deals and the NCAA transfer portal has taken all of this to a level that would make P.T. Barnum blush.

But the upside of an outlet like MaxPreps is the attention given to those who are involved in sports that don’t make the headlines and don’t draw inordinate attention - for better and for worse - to the players and coaches.  If someone wants to know about the best participants in high school archery or badminton, then MaxPreps can scratch that itch.

On the coaching end, MaxPreps offers a variety of “Best Of” lists, and at the end of 2022, they published a list of what they called “ the greatest high school coach in every sport right now.”  The featured sports range from gymnastics to water polo, with the obvious categories of football and basketball at the top of the page.  The coaches honored were divided between fourteen boys and fifteen girls sports; of the twenty-nine coaches honored, two came from the same school.  Ours.

Kudos go out to both Mike McLaughlin ‘85 (boys soccer) and Pat O’Rourke ‘90 (boys ice hockey) who were honored as being the best in the nation in their respective sports.  

The author of the list, Kevin Askeland, admits that his list is subjective, but his choices are as valid as any out there.  The variety of states, school size, and avoidance of choices based on past reputation shows a real dedication to research.  The choice of football coach Tim Goodwin from Marion Local in Maria Stein, Ohio, over coaches at places like Mater Dei in California or St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida gives the list real credibility.

So when Coaches McLaughlin and O’Rourke made the list, it was based on criteria beyond name and program recognition.  Yet, as much as I respect the effort of the list’s author, his knowledge of these two Ignatius Men Forever only scratches the surface.  I have no doubt that they are the best coaches in the land in their respective sports, but my certainty is based not on any number other than the number of young men whose lives have been positively impacted by their influence.

Coaching at Saint Ignatius is so much more than a job or even a profession.  Many will be so moved as to call it a vocation, but I beg to disagree.  I truly believe that coaching is best categorized as a ministry.  

A vocation is answering a call to a lifelong commitment - like the priesthood, religious life, or marriage.  Mike and Pat will probably one day hand over the coaching reins and find another ministry to serve the Lord, but they will still serve their families because within those communities lies their vocation.

To my mind, it is this categorization of coaching as a ministry, and a ministry within a vocation, that makes all the difference.  It provides the balance necessary to be successful as a coach, a husband, and a father.  Neither obsessed with winning nor with the fame that accompanies it, Mike and Pat are great coaches because they are great husbands and fathers - they take their vocation seriously, and therefore their ministry flows from it.

Pat and Mike are the greatest not because they pursued it like the proverbial horse chasing the carrot on a stick, but because they ignored it.  Ministry and the pursuit of greatness are mutually exclusive because ministry is other-centered and the pursuit of greatness is self-centered.  Ministry does not involve grasping but instead focuses on offering.  We at Saint Ignatius, and all who these two men have influenced, have been enriched by their offering of themselves, and therein lies their greatness.