Friday, November 14, 2014

A Profile of a True Hero - Coach Bruce Scifres

The Catholic community on the South Side of Indianapolis has a proclivity for producing a bunch of young men who are about 5' 9" and 155 pounds.  Sure we've had a guy or two play division one football, but it is quite clear that the "measureables" that most coaches would look for to build an insanely successful high school football program are NOT present in the South Side Catholic community.

That's where coach Bruce Scifres comes in.

A "vocation" takes on an infinite number of forms, and one of the greatest examples to me of a person who has responded to a call from God also happens to be one of my heroes - my head football coach when I was in high school - Coach Bruce Scifres.

Coach Scifres with his wife Jackie
Coach Scifres has been the head football coach at Roncalli High School since 1990, and has led the Rebels to 6 states championships.  But infinitely more important than the on-field success is the spiritual foundation that Coach Scifres has laid in the lives of hundreds of young men over the last 20+ years.

I don't remember hardly any of the X's and O's I learned about football, but I do remember the Senior Scripture reflections on Thursday nights, Coach telling us to tell our parents we love them, Coach leading us in the Saint Patrick Breastplate Prayer before heading out on the field, and Coach leading us in prayer after the game, win or lose.  He modeled for us what being a father, a coach, a husband, and a teacher could look like when lived well.

I don't know the details, but I know Coach Scifres had TONS of offers to coach elsewhere and make a lot more money.  However, I think at some point in his life, Coach Scifres realized that he had a vocation to coach at Roncalli, and as we all know, you don't mess with God when God calls you to something!

In a profession where even kids' parents can place too much emphasis on winning, Coach has managed to continue to adapt to an ever-evolving game while never neglecting his belief that it is his mission to release young men out into the world who are great people, not just great athletes.

"We pray, win or lose!"

Rebel Football alums have had Coach as their best man in their weddings, offer reflections at their funerals, and read at their first Mass as a priest.

Coach Scifres isn't just a football coach, he is a father, and he built a family that endures to this day and it is a family that is built on God and on Love.

Tonight an undersized and underdog Roncalli football team will be taking on the number one team in the state. Coach Scifres has led teams into these types of games many times.  He's won a lot more of them than he's lost.

My brothers have all graduated, and I no longer know hardly any of the players that are on the team anymore.  So tonight I look forward to going out and cheering on the Rebels, but really I feel like I'm going mostly to cheer on and support a man who has given so much of himself for me.  And I know that tonight, win or lose, Coach Scifres is forming another group of young men who will soon be unleashed upon the world infinitely more ready to be fathers, husbands, parishioners, and leaders than had they not played football for Coach Bruce Scifres.

Thanks for everything Coach!

P.S. - If you are looking for some inspiration in your life, Coach has authored two books.  Clink on either image to order a copy.  They are phenomenal!

Coach also has a GREAT site with posters, t-shirts and other materials that make great gifts for all ages.  The site also has some great tips for fathers and coaches.  Check it out by clicking here:

There are some beautiful reflections that have been done about Coach Scifres through the years:

A great article from our diocesan newspaper "The Criterion" - click HERE to read

Former player Casey Bolsega wrote a great article called "Faith, Love and Football" - click HERE to read Casey's article


  1. He positively affected lots of young ladies too! He was my PE teacher and I loved him- just hands down- one of the best people in the world!

  2. Thank you, Father, for posting! I didn't know he had 2 books and other items!! I'll be getting them for my sons for Christmas! I'm very passionate about trying to find support and good role models for my young sons (especially in the macho world of sports). Sounds like Coach Scifres is a GREAT one! Thank you again!

    BTW, have you read this article?
    I'm fearful there is a lack of strong, Catholic, male, role models in my community, and not just for kids, but for dads to emulate as well.

    I'll continue to pray for strong, Catholic, male, role models for my sons and their peers.
    I can't wait to read Coach Scifres' books! Thank you again! :)

    1. You're welcome.

      I have read the article and think it is great. I was glad to see it spreading around social media last week!