MUSKEGO — When someone says, “All the high school kids from St. Leonard play CYM basketball,” that someone may be exaggerating – but only slightly.
Fact is, the Muskego parish fields nine teams in Catholic Youth Ministry competition among a total of 81 boys and 17 girls squads, each averaging some six or seven players according to CYM basketball board chair Kate Borchardt of Holy Assumption Parish, West Allis.
CYM basketball includes three divisions: the Gold for 11th- and 12th-grade boys, the Silver for male freshmen and sophomores, and the Girls Division, which welcomes ninth- through 12th-graders.
CYM players are required to attend religious education classes at their parishes or to be enrolled in Catholic high schools, where religion classes are a part of the curriculum. By way of exception, each team is allowed two players who are not members of parishioner families and/or are not enrollees in catechism classes.
According to Dan Pavelko, in his first year as CYM basketball coordinator at St. Leonard, “Teams in our league are (located) as far (from Muskego) as St. Boniface in Germantown to the north, St. Martin of Tours in Franklin and St. Charles in Hartland and almost every parish in between.”
While some congregations boast more than one team, others – such as Christ King, St. Bernard and St. Pius X in Wauwatosa, and the seven parishes in West Allis and West Milwaukee – combine to field a single team.
Pavelko noted that more than 100 St. Leonard teenagers played on its nine squads, “the most (CYM teams) out of all the parish communities in southeastern Wisconsin.”
The St. Leonard program has been “competitive for years,” Pavelko said. He attributed the program’s success to “a supportive parish community and a wonderful, caring pastor in Fr. Bill (Kohler).”
Pavelko said the St. Leonard athletic board, which works in conjunction with parish athletic director Ray Jachimiec, “is very concerned about our youth, our religion – Christian values – and allowing CYM to blossom.”
Pavelko added that “the parents all volunteer with our concession stand, admissions (table) and cleaning up afterwards. Our program could not be run so well without everyone’s support.”
Key players in the St. Leonard program include seniors Allison Gage, Libby Jachimiec, Tony Fugarino, Nick Tretow and Dylan Wieting and sophomores Mike Adali and Cal Krafcheck.
Most adolescent St. Leonard parishioners, said Pavelko, “do not just play sports, but also are active in our annual mission trip.”
In addition to basketball, volleyball has been a CYM sport. Seventy-five high schoolers from St. Leonard played volleyball during the most recent season. Eight-week coed CYM bowling will soon be introduced. Four-bowler teams, plus two substitutes, will compete at AMF Lanes in West Allis and AMF Bowlero in Wauwatosa between April 21 and June 17. For more information, email CymBowling@yahoo.com.
A CYM sports website notes that the archdiocese “sponsors sports leagues for Catholic youth in high school as part of its comprehensive approach to youth ministry.” Additionally, the website quotes Blessed John Paul II: “‘Our athletics should go hand in hand with our youth ministry. Sport well understood and practiced contributes to the whole person because it demands generous effort, careful self-control, mastery of self and respect for others, complete commitment and team spirit.’”
In CYM tournament play March 10, host St. Leonard’s Gold team fell to St. Roman, Milwaukee, 52-47 while St. John Vianney, Brookfield, got by the Muskego parish’s girls team 34-28.
At St. Jude, Wauwatosa, that same day, the Silver team from St. Robert, Shorewood, defeated St. Leonard, 28-21; Mother of Good Counsel, Milwaukee, beat WCSS – a Silver team representing Waukesha’s four parishes – 26-21; and the Silver team from St. Joseph, Wauwatosa, defeated St. Mary Visitation, Elm Grove, 47-25.
In Gold tournament action March 11 at St. Jude, St. Joseph, Wauwatosa, edged St. Roman, 45-41, and St. Boniface, Germantown, downed St. Eugene, Fox Point, 44-18