October 2nd, 2014

Hyland's Heroes: Art Saylor

Kay Whelan

Staff Writer


Hyland's Heroes: Art Saylor
The Saylor family / photo provided by the Saylor family

The following feature is a part of a bi-weekly series, sponsored by Hyland Insurance. "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.

Football at St. Albert parish is a popular outlet for the young men of the school. With a large student body, great friendships are developed through their sports activities. Art Saylor has had a football coaching job there for years and he receives a big “payoff” in seeing the young men develop through their athletic program.

 

Growing up and attending St. Basil, a smaller parish in the south end, Art knows what the CSAA provided for him and his classmates in those years. In fact, he values it more today. Attending a small school he found himself playing on a merged team with another parish – just as some participants experience today in the CSAA program. The friendships and the fundamental knowledge he acquired from that experience have carried him through the years and continue to do so today as a coach.

Art is a Holy Cross High School graduate who attended Western Kentucky and U of L for his higher education degree. He is now married to Krisie, and they are the parents of two children: Jolee, a high school student and their son, Jake, who attends St. Albert.

Both are active in sports and finding their favorite activities as they mature. Art Saylor clearly enjoys coaching the young boys at St. Albert, and they have a dedicated volunteer with him at the helm.

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

My first involvement with the CSAA was as a 5th grader at St. Basil, a small Catholic school in the South End. I decided to play football after watching my mom play quarterback in a women’s flag football league. After going to her games and practices, I knew I wanted to play quarterback for our football team.

Because St. Basil was so small, we were merged with St. Denis in football only. While playing football at St. Denis in 5th-8th grades, I was able to become friends with many kids from different schools, many I am still friends with today.

I was fortunate to have played for some great coaches at St. Denis who not only helped develop my football skills but also instilled in me a work ethic that stayed with me throughout my playing years. Their leadership definitely played a role in the person/coach I am today and I am grateful to them for their time and efforts.

Who asked you to contribute or what got you involved?

Once my son Jake decided in the third grade that he wanted to play tackle football I knew that I wanted to try coaching him and his friends. I had never coached football before but my goal was to teach them the fundamentals of football while keeping it fun so that they would want to continue to play in the future.

Luckily for me, the boys at St. Albert have been awesome to coach and the parents have been supportive and encouraging. I hope all the boys have had a positive experience with football and if nothing else will take the discipline and toughness that football demands and apply it in their development as young men.

What sports did you coach and for how long?

I have coached my son for the last five years in the sports in which I feel I am knowledgeable enough to coach. I am fortunate as a dad in that my son loves sports as much as I do. I have always encouraged him to try and play as many sports as he can. He has played football, basketball, baseball, soccer, golf, and volleyball at St. Albert.

I know my limits when it comes to coaching and I think that is important as a parent/coach. If you are not familiar enough with the fundamentals/rules of a sport, you should step back and allow those that are experts in the sport to coach the kids.

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

Stewardship and just being involved with the school/kids was a big reason why I decided to coach. Unfortunately, I can’t be a huge financial contributor to our parish but I can give back in other ways like donating my time and efforts at parish events and coaching/developing kids. I feel like teaching the kids about physical activity, sportsmanship, Catholic values is just as important as any other thing I could give to the parish.

I feel an obligation as a Catholic to give back in some way and coaching has been a tool for me to not only fulfill my stewardship obligation but also has allowed me to be involved with the kids which is something I truly enjoy.

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

Even though my dad never officially coached me in any sport that I played, he definitely had the most influence on me. I looked up to him like no other. He was “The Man” in my eyes as he would push me in a loving way to be the best I could be. He was young and athletic enough as a dad to not only be a teacher but a competitor that would push me as an athlete. We would have some monumental battles in basketball, golf, wrestling, even ping pong.

As great as he was at being a personal coach to me in all the sports I played, he was an even better support person who was always there for me as a dad. He knew how to balance being hard on me and being supportive and loving.

I miss him tremendously and wish that he could see his grandkids play all the sports that he saw me play. I could only hope to be half the coach/dad to my son that he was to me. Being a supportive parent on the sideline and at home is more important than being a coach. You don’t have to coach your kids to have an effect on their athletic career. My dad was certainly proof of that.

What are your major themes/principles as a coach?

I’m trying to teach the value of hard work while still making it fun. I want them to compete to their fullest while still showing sportsmanship. I try to push them to do their best but still be supportive when they fail. I think being able to balance all of those principles and being able to teach the skills makes for a great coach. I try to bring organization/preparation to make for efficient practices and success on game days. I emphasize teamwork, enthusiasm, and energy more than any other themes when talking to the kids. I try to be positive as much as I can. I’m typically not a yeller/screamer but I know how to get my point across and get their attention when need be. I hit on a lot of different themes/principles and hope that a few of them stick with the kids.

What does coaching bring to you, your family?

Personally, coaching gives me the chance to still be involved in sports even though I am too old to compete myself. It is a “fix” for me and something I enjoy doing. It also allows me a couple more hours each day to be with my son that I wouldn’t have otherwise. As busy as our lives are, that is just as important to me.

As a family, coaching brings us all together. My wife Krisie is the team mom and she is just as involved as I am as a coach. My extended family supports the team at every game because they know the time and effort we give to the team. My family goes to all the games and it is a chance to see one another while supporting whomever is playing.

Finally as a parent, coaching gives me a medium to voice the morals and values that I feel are important.

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

My fondest memories and experiences as a coach are just seeing the kids succeed and have fun together. As I mentioned before, I want to make it a positive experience for them. At this level, we are just introducing them to sports and trying to build a foundation for them to take to the next level whether they go on to play sports or not. Actually, I hope my fondest memories are still to come.

Those will be if the boys I have coached go on to be successful in sports, school, and life in general. If they come back as adults and talk about how much fun they had while playing sports with me as their coach at St. Albert that will be my fondest memory. I hope that happens for all of them and I hope I would have played a small role in their success and happiness as a person first, as an athlete second.

 

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