Early on in my career, I was once gently criticized by a colleague for using too many sports metaphors in my writing and speaking. Having taught religion for a decade in an all-boys high school, I found that references to sports resonated with my students, and so I relied on them quite often. My colleague suggested that sports references were “masculine” and excluded the girls. Perhaps there was a time when this was true, but we know that today, sports are big with boys and girls. In fact, one of the biggest complaints that we hear about families not attending Mass or faith formation is because of commitments to sports. While this is indeed unfortunate, we won’t accomplish anything by burying our heads in the sand and pretending like sports do not exist. On the contrary, sports can serve as a doorway—an entry point—for us to propose the Gospel to young people.
That’s why I’m so excited about a new book from Loyola Press: All In: Driven by Passion, Energy, and Purpose by Porter Moser, the head coach of the Loyola Ramblers college basketball team. You may recall that Coach Moser took the Ramblers to the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament in their “Cinderella season” of 2018 (their first trip to the “big dance” since their NCAA championship season in 1963!). In his book, Coach Moser offers a collection of inspiring, poignant, and rousing lessons to drive home the importance of being “all in”—meaning, fully dedicated to a task at hand. Revealing his ups and downs as both a college player and later as a coach, All In shows how Moser built his all-positive, no-negativity work ethic; how a second chance from legendary coach Rick Majerus helped Moser achieve new levels of success; and how, in 2018, he guided the No. 11 seed Ramblers through one of the most inspiring Cinderella stories in college sports history.
With a moving foreword from Sr. Jean, the lively and wise 100-year-old chaplain of the Loyola Ramblers, All In offers sage advice for athletes, coaches, recruiters, sports fans, and anyone looking to develop the skills to lead on the court or in life. I encourage anyone involved in coaching sports for young people in Catholic programs to consider reading and discussing this book with their team, and I encourage catechists to read it for inspiration and to see how sports can indeed serve as an entry point into the lives of those we teach.
BTW, Loyola University Chicago is my alma mater, so I admit to showing no objectivity when it comes to rooting for the Ramblers!