Softball brings home first 4A state championship for Holy Family

Moira Cullings

Drawing inspiration from Mother Teresa’s example of doing small things with great love, the Holy Family softball team carried an unwavering passion in their efforts this season.

“No matter what we do, we’re going to do it with great love,” said junior Noelle Gardon.

Head Coach Mitchell Martinez motivated his team before games using the saint’s famous motto.

“We would go into the huddle and Mitch would be like, ‘What kind of love?’ We’d all go, ‘Great love!’” said senior Erin Winters.

The Holy Family softball girls, who won state this past season, huddle up during a game.

That love for their sport led the team to the state championship game this past season, where they defeated Mountain View High School 10-3.

“It was so surreal,” said Winters. “It still doesn’t feel real.”

The team made history for Holy Family, bringing home the first 4A state title since the school moved up to the division a few years ago.

“Our goal was never to win state,” said senior Sara Rode. “Our goal every year is just to get to state. We took it a game at a time, and soon enough we were in the championship game.”

The team’s vision for their season was simple, said junior Anna Martinez.

“No one ever really thought about losing,” she said. “It was one game at a time. We were just playing.”

Junior Anna Martinez bats for the Tigers.

The team prayed before games and after practices and attended Mass together during their season. That foundation of faith helped them realize “the bigger picture,” said Gardon. “We know that there’s more [to life] than this one game or this one season.”

Gardon added that sometimes faith plays a subtler role in a season.

“It’s definitely something you can look back on after and think about where it helped you or where you needed more of it in a game,” she said.

Gardon, Martinez, Rode and Winters all attended Catholic grade schools, and although they sometimes played on opposing teams growing up, they’ve enjoyed coming together to represent Holy Family.

“It’s better because we know that we’re not playing for ourselves,” said Rode. “We’re playing for everyone around us.”

Gardon agreed.

“Having a bond with everyone — you believe in everyone,” she said. “There’s trust everywhere. If someone’s having a bad day, you know that you have other people behind you and someone’s going to pick you up.”

Senior Sara Rode plays second base for the Tigers.

Looking back at their season, it’s the memories both on and off the field the girls will cherish moving forward.

“If I could go back and replay this season, 100 times out of 100 times I would,” said Winters.

The team remembers the state final like they remember much of their regular season games — a tough battle until the end.

“We were up 3-0, and they came and hit two home runs and tied it,” said Rode. “None of us broke. We came back and scored seven runs.”

The girls are proud of what they accomplished for their school.

“Everything just fell into place and it felt right,” said Gardon. “It felt like we had all the tools, and we worked so hard and did everything in our capability.

“We knew our goal and we did what we knew we needed to do to achieve it,” she said.

COMING UP: Catholic Baby University prepares parents for the real deal

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Heidi and Jim Knous had no idea that something like a Catholic childbirth education existed. But not long after finding out the great news that they were expecting their first child, Brady, they came across an article in the Denver Catholic introducing Catholic Baby University — a program designed to teach expecting parents the nuts and bolts of both childbirth and Catholicism.

“I think it’s special because it gives you an opportunity to step back from all the registries and baby shower… and to really take time to come together as a couple to think about this vocation, what parenthood is … and how you want that to look for your family,” Heidi said.

“I think there’s a lot of distractions when you’re about to have a child,” Jim added. “Everybody knows it’s going to be tough and you’re going through a lot. Everybody’s trying to tell you, ‘You should do this, you should do that.’ But Catholic Baby U really gives you a solid understanding of what having a child is going to be like and includes the values that we learned as a family in raising a baby in the Catholic faith.”

Jim and Heidi Knous and their son Brady, are parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Denver. (Photo provided)

 

The Catholic Baby University holistic program for parents — offered both as a weekend retreat or a six-class series — is the result of the partnership between Rose Medical Center and the Archdiocese of Denver and was inspired by the previously-founded Jewish Baby University.

The classes touch on topics dealing with childbirth instruction, postpartum experience, baby safety and the Catholic faith — and they are taught and facilitated by certified birth and safety instructors, mental health professionals, and members from the Office of Evangelization and Family Ministry of the Archdiocese of Denver.

“Statistically, people become more religiously involved when they have children, so we want to respond to people’s desires to reengage their faith with the coming of their child,” said Scott Elmer, Director of the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries of the Archdiocese of Denver and also a facilitator of the program, in a previous interview. “We want to be there to welcome them, celebrate the new life, and give them the tools they need to incorporate God into their home life.”

For Jim and Heidi, who are parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, the experience of having both the childbirth and Catholic aspects in this preparation did not disappoint, as they learned from each one.

“It was a great opportunity to come back and think about things from a basic level again and how to bring our child into the faith — things that you haven’t necessarily thought of or how you would teach a child something, [like praying],” Heidi said.

“Something we learned [that really made me reflect] was that the bond between me and Brady and between Heidi and Brady are very different. It happens at very different times,” Jim shared. “Right away when Heidi finds out she’s pregnant, then her bonding with Brady already starts all the way until Brady’s born. As a dad, it doesn’t start until he is born and I’m actually holding him.”

Heidi assured the concept of “gatekeeping” also helped them prepare for parenting better.

“[Gatekeeping] is when, as a mom, you get really wrapped up in, ‘Only I know how to change baby diapers, only I know how to feed the baby, only I know how to do this,’” Heidi explained. “And I am someone who I could’ve seen thinking that I could be the only person that knew how to take care of [my child]. But gaining that understanding helped us co-parent a lot easier from the very beginning because I was aware of it.”

“I would tell [expecting couples] that Catholic Baby University is a great place to start, to gain community, to meet other people that are in a similar place that you are in; having people in the same room who are just as excited, just as terrified who also want to learn,” Heidi concluded. “It’s just a really awesome opportunity to take advantage of.”