As part of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, the CYO of Johnson & Wyandotte
Counties is home to over 5,500 kids who represent their parishes while participating in football, volleyball, basketball and track each year.
When Peter Piscitello became the executive director of the CYO in 2010, he saw an opportunity to reshape the way these children, their parents and coaches interact with youth sports. "Youth sports are a tremendous vehicle for spiritual, physical and even cognitive growth," he notes. "It's important that in our Catholic parishes and schools we recognize the impact sports can have in a young person's life and treat it as a ministry, as an extension of their Catholic education
." In the face of a society that can take youth sports too seriously and create poor environments for children, this meant finding a way to give parents and coaches the tools to lead a revitalized approach to youth sports.
Peter's search for a partner in the formation of coaches and parents led him to Notre Dame and the Play Like a Champion program.
This past fall, the CYO implemented the "Sports as Ministry" and "Parent Like a Champion" workshops for coaches and parents. The response has been fantastic, with every coach in the organization attending along with a parent from nearly all of the participating families. "You can see the impact right away," Peter says, "the program helps parents and coaches to see sports as a way to develop their kids' relationship with Christ and grow as individuals. The feedback from parents and coaches has been fantastic and the environment at games has been great." The partnership has helped the CYO be a leader in providing an authentically Catholic opportunity for kids to participate in sports.
Peter developed his passion for this ministry at an early age, as he knows first-hand the impact of youth sports. A lifelong fan and competitor in a variety of sports, Peter came to the CYO from work in collegiate athletics. He met his wife Tessa while an undergraduate at Benedictine College and is thrilled to be settled in Kansas City with his family.