May 21st, 2013

Hyland's Heroes: Greg Vincenti

Kay Whelan

Staff Writer


Hyland's Heroes: Greg Vincenti

The following feature is a part of a bi-weekly series, sponsored by Hyland, Block & Hyland. "Hyland's Heroes" is a series of profiles that spotlight Louisville area Catholic volunteers, coaches and administrators who assist athletic programs and teams, and help promote excellence in all aspects of sports. Know someone that you think should be featured as the next "Hyland's Hero”? Send your recommendation to editor@catholicsportsnet.com.

Greg Vincenti is a transplanted northerner who has called Louisville his home since his high school years at Westport. He grew up playing Soccer, Tennis and Football. Greg attended Roanoke College and the University of Hartford. Now married to Melinda and father to Max, Lauren and Spencer, he has spent nearly a decade involved in the Sports Ministry at St. Albert. Seeing his own children enjoy Cross-country and Track, it seems obvious that soccer requires a lot of those same skills. Greg will be leading his team into the CSAA soccer tournament this week with the best intentions.

When and how did you get your start with the CSAA? Why so?

Eight years ago I started coaching girls soccer, and six years ago boys at St Albert the Great. I love the positive energy and enthusiasm of young kids and want to make a positive impact on their lives.

Who asked you to contribute or what got you involved? 

While at work I got a phone call from my wife telling me that Lauren didn’t make the A team at St Albert, and if a parent volunteered to coach then there would be a B team, otherwise there would be no second team. I correctly heard that as: “If you don’t step up and coach then you’ll be in big trouble at home!”

What sports did you coach and for how long?

Through the kids’ years at St Albert, I have coached soccer, football, basketball and volleyball. Other than soccer, the experience only lasted as long as one of our kids was interested in playing, but I have stayed on with soccer because of my commitment in Sports Ministry.

What's the connection with your faith and giving your time to these young student athletes? 

I truly believe that coaching allows me an opportunity to minister young people and center much of my intention around helping to grow their faith. My commitment to coaching is really about my want to impact their lives. Sports Ministry allows me to use soccer as the backdrop to bring a higher level of understanding and appreciation for the blessings in their lives to these young people as well as their love of God.  

Who was the most influential person on your coaching career? Why?  

I had a football coach while living in New York, named Romeo Pannozzo-how’s that for a New Yorker name? Coach made those years magical for me, not just because we went undefeated, not just because he made me co-captain, and not just because he invested the time and effort to truly teach us the fundamentals of football. What he did for me, and others, was he treated us with respect as he held us to a higher standard of performance than anyone had ever believed possible before. That level of support and trust inspired us to do anything and everything we could to make certain that we never let him or ourselves down.

What are your major themes/principles as a coach?  

What I want more than anything else is for my kids to end their season with a greater sense of self, a higher level of appreciation for their talents and their blessings, and a greater depth in their faith and love of God.

Success is never measured by a scoreboard, but only by the level of effort, sportsmanship and grace that each of them exhibit on that field. Each of my boys starts the season writing out five personal goals and we center our time on the necessary steps to allow them to be accomplished. We also emphasize giving back to our community, and so after every game, regardless of whose mess is on the sidelines, my boys clean the field area of all the water bottles and trash that accumulated from all of the prior games.

We pray after every practice and before every game, and set aside special projects that we work together to help others, and we select certain Sunday’s where we attend mass as a team.

Love of God and family, giving and appreciating the many blessings in our lives is a huge part of my program.

What does coaching bring to you, your family?

For me, selfishly, at the end of my journey here on earth, I hope that I have made a difference; and I know that having an influence on these young people and their direction in life is a great opportunity to help make this world just a little bit better.

If I can get them to look a little more deeply to God, to want an even better relationship with Jesus, to love their Mom and Dad just a little more deeper by appreciating all that they do for them, and teach them that respecting themselves and others is the right path in life, that is when I feel my greatest joy in coaching.

What are the fondest experiences or memories you have of coaching? 

What gives me the fondest memories surprisingly isn’t the many City Championships we’ve been blessed with, but it is when I see in the eyes of my young men a deeper level of self belief than ever before. That makes real difference for me. The thrill of trophies and titles fades over time, but knowing that your players are going on in their lives with a great sense of all they can do is important to me.

It is when my boys realize that they are the ones responsible for their lives, and that they are the ones accountable for bringing about their life dream: that is when I feel I have reached my goal.

A man was once asked: “Are you any good as a coach?” and then he said, come back and look at these boys twenty years from now to get your answer. I think that coach “got it” just as my favorite coach did. And this is why I coach.

 

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