Bruce Wawrzyniak was born and baptized Catholic, has spent the majority of his professional career working in sports, and is a veteran broadcaster and podcaster. His faith life includes being a Benedictine Oblate to the St. Leo Abbey in west central Florida, participating regularly in a monthly men’s prayer group through his church, being the president of a weekly Christian Business Connections group, and being part of the Cursillo movement, having been attending monthly Ultreya meetings for a few years now and made his weekend in early October 2019. He attends Mass twice a week and did a men’s Emmaus weekend in 2016.
It’s not about wins and losses or statistics. Helping listeners find the right balance and priority when it comes to their faith life versus their sports life, interviews are done with guests who are Catholics in sports – current or former athletes, coaches, officials, clergy, administrators, and more, from the pro, amateur, and scholastic ranks. Whether you’re an athlete or a fan, youth or adult, Catholic or not, this show will deliver content that speaks to you and provides opportunities for ongoing reflection for your daily life.
The Director of Catholic Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Providence, up in Rhode Island. She played softball, volleyball, and basketball, and in her current role is hands-on with the Catholic Athletic League, including the creation of Cooperative Parish Teams. She is a strong supporter of the intersection of faith and sports, as heard during this interview.
The head coach of the boys’ varsity soccer team at Cristo Rey, a Catholic high school in Tampa. Last year the Tampa Bay Times ranked him 20th on a list of the top 50 coaches in Tampa Bay sports history. In 26 seasons at Jesuit High School, his teams had won 24 district titles, reached 15 final fours and won five state championships. His last title team also finished first in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll. All told, he posted a 571-124-69 record at Jesuit — a staggering .747 win percentage. As an athlete himself, he had played college soccer and was offered a tryout by a pro soccer team.
One of the winningest coaches in high school baseball, having coached for ten years at Tampa Catholic High School where he posted an amazing won-lost record of 329-39. His teams won four state championships and a national championship. He went on to coach at the University of Tampa and also scouted for Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals. Last year he was No. 26 on a list of the top 50 coaches in Tampa Bay sports history and he has been inducted into four Halls of Fame. He has his own foundation, which is dedicated to teaching young children life skills through sports. And just over a year ago he launched a series of what is now six books to bring life skills to young athletes through a diverse set of characters representing each baseball position on the field.
Every year since 1981 a tournament has taken place to promote high school baseball in Hillsborough County (Tampa, Florida area). It was first established as a memorial for Tony Saladino, Sr. and has grown from eleven public schools to now a 32-team event, with 38 players that have participated in the tournament having gone on to play in the Major Leagues, 12 of which were first round draft picks. The guest on this episode of CSR has been at the heart of all of this for all those years and is a lifelong Catholic.
To borrow a football term, an audible is called at the last-minute when the scheduled guest doesn’t show up, utilizing this episode instead to share some insights brought back from the 2nd Global Congress on Sport and Christianity. The conference took place in late October in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and this installment of CSR cites content from that event that underscore the longstanding relationship between sports and faith.