Dating back to the early ’90s, coaches and student athletes have participated in retreats, and some teams do so on an annual basis. Nick Winecke, Saint Mary’s baseball coach and associate athletic director, recalls his time as a student-athlete and the importance of setting time aside to contemplate and reflect on his spiritual life. He therefore makes it a priority each year for his team and fellow coaches to make the retreat part of the baseball program.
This year, the baseball team and coaches met at Alverna Center Jan. 18-19. The theme of this year’s retreat was Integrity – based on 2 Corinthians 8: 21 “We are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord, but also in the eyes of others.” The two-day retreat included four sessions of prayer and reflection centered on the notion of integrity. In addition, the young men met in small and large groups where they spoke about their relationships with their families, teammates, and God.
The seniors, who have been making the annual baseball retreat since they were first-year students, play a critical role in helping create an environment early in the retreat — where sharing from the heart is commonplace. Senior Dixon Irwin said, “Leading a small group, I was able to set the tone and be an example to the underclassman and show them that it’s okay to open up.”
First-year student, Luke Gilbertson said, “Before the retreat, I thought it was simply going to be time of being together as a team, but it was so much more. We learned so much about care and empathy, particularly in light of the fact that everyone is going through something which causes us to treat everyone with respect.”
When asked why he makes the retreat a priority, Coach Winecke stated, “One of our goals each year is to learn one another’s story. We all have a story and to be able to share it with your teammates, I think is a powerful thing. These two days are about growth, not only as an individual, but also as a group of men looking to create life-long bonds. Working with Brother Pat Conway and Brother Frank Carr is special; I have always believed that the Christian Brothers mission is to help create strong individuals with a moral compass.”