Play Like a Champion Today

"The sporting spirit is one that teaches the need for discipline, effort and sacrifice to succeed and achieve excellence – becoming a constant reminder of the sacrifices necessary to grow in the virtues that build the character of a person."

- Pope Francis

Bishop O’Connell High School has partnered with the University of Notre Dame through the Play Like a Champion Today program. This character education program through sports initiative supports Catholic schools in promoting athletics as a ministry to youth and families, helps to build teams as moral communities, and supports character development, spiritual growth, intrinsic motivation and responsible decision-making.

This partnership, which benefits O'Connell student athletes, coaches and parents draws on the expertise of the Notre Dame coaching staff, the research of developmental and sport psychologists, as well as leaders in Catholic theology. Play Like a Champion Today aims to renew high school sports by educating coaches and parents to nurture personal and spiritual development along with athletic excellence.

O’Connell is the first area high school to partner with this program. The school brought Play Like a Champion Today experts for a series of workshops for coaches and parents in December 2014.

Play Like a Champion Today workshops are nationally accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education. The initiative enjoys partnerships in more than 40 cities across the United States and Canada. Play Like a Champion Today has educated more than 50,000 coaches and 20,000 parents who, in turn, have impacted the lives of more than a million athletes.

The Parent Like a Champion program is an interactive workshop for sports parents that seeks not only to respond to incidents, but also seeks to give parents sound advice on how to guide their children through their youth and high school sports careers. Parents receive education and materials that help them reinforce the goals of character development through sports stressed by the program. Parents also receive guidance on how they can help their children to form habits of spiritual reflection, perseverance, sound decision-making, team work, good nutrition and regular exercise.

This program is spearheaded by athletic director Joe Wootten in conjunction with Campus Ministry. Funds for the program have been generously provided by the school's Athletics Boosters.

Find out more about this program at