Damien and Amy Hendricks, coaches for Our Lady of the Lake CYO track and volleyball, pose with daughters Lizzy and Reese during a meet at La Salle Prep. (Courtesy Hendricks family)
Damien and Amy Hendricks, coaches for Our Lady of the Lake CYO track and volleyball, pose with daughters Lizzy and Reese during a meet at La Salle Prep. (Courtesy Hendricks family)

Families and CYO/Camp Howard support each other’s success.

“They are glue, one for the other,” said Brian Thompson, chairman of the CYO/Camp Howard executive board.

Thompson, who has had three children in CYO and at camp, cites track meets as a prime example of the partnership.

Thompson would place hurdles and rake the long-jump pit. His wife would keep statistics. Both shuttled players to and from events. They watched for hours in the rain, cheering and encouraging.  

That’s a lot of giving. But the Thompsons also received.

“It’s an opportunity to be together in an environment that is dynamic and faith-filled,” explained Thompson, a member of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Northeast Portland. All CYO events begin with prayer and a reading of a statement, which says in part, “teamwork and doing your best are more important than winning.”

CYO’s philosophy  can be applied directly to family life, Thompson said, adding that families cherish the balance CYO seeks between good competition and giving everyone a fair shot.

Families and CYO converge most often in parents who also are coaches.

Amy and Damien Hendricks coach track for their 11- and 12-year-old daughters at Our Lady of the Lake School in Lake Oswego. Amy also coaches volleyball.

“I quickly fell in love and developed a deep respect for CYO because of what it teaches kids,” said Amy. “It teaches teamwork and how to work with others. I think there is a lot of value to growing great human beings.”

In the Hendricks, CYO gets two dedicated coaches. In turn, the couple watch children develop as athletes and moral human beings. They also have superb family memories.

More than two decades ago at coffee and doughnuts after Mass at St. Henry Parish in Gresham, someone asked Jennifer and T.R. Riehl if either wanted to be athletic directors for a new CYO program at the parish. They teamed up on the job and began a long friendship with CYO. They now are leaders at Christ the King Parish in Milwaukie, where their five children  — ages 12 to 21 — have attended school.

As much as T.R. helped CYO as a coach, the organization helped him as a man. “I went from thinking winning is everything to thinking life lessons are more important,” he explained. But the more they focused on those lessons, the more they won.

The Riehl clan attended family camp at Camp Howard, something the children still mention as a good memory. One day, T.R. lost a trap shooting contest to Sister Krista von Borstel, longtime executive director of CYO and avid outdoorswoman. He had to cook dinner for her and a handful of other nuns one night. It turns out he is almost as good in the kitchen as he is on the court.

— Ed Langlois