All season long, Marc Behringer preached to his team the importance of “being ready to play from the outset.”
So he was thrilled when his girls’ soccer team of Cathedral High School in Indianapolis scored the first goal just 93 seconds into the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s Class 2A championship match on Oct. 27.
“The first thing I did was stop and look up at the heavens and say, ‘Thank you,’ ” Behringer recalls.
Being a coach, Behringer then immediately focused on the second thing that filled his mind—worrying that his team would become “too defensive” in their approach to the game.
That worry was replaced by celebration 78 minutes and 27 seconds later when the game ended and that first goal was still the only one scored in Cathedral’s highly competitive match with the team from St. Joseph High School in South Bend.
“As soon as the clock got under 10 seconds, all I thought about was congratulating my assistant coaches,” Behringer says. “Then I just watched the girls celebrate for the next hour. The girls were just overflowing with this joy.”
Behringer, who also teaches theology at Cathedral, views his players’ joy in that moment as a glimpse of the joy that God offers all people.
“There are moments in our life when God is palpable, when God is present if you’re watching,” he says. “Young people’s joy is so pure. And that joy and unity are signs of our God. Ultimately, the joy of heaven is waiting for us.”
This year’s state championship team is the third for Behringer in his 23 years of coaching at Cathedral. As always, he says, teams are defined by their seniors. This year’s team had 12: Sophia Saucerman, Jennifer Utzinger, Sydney Manley, Olivia Carrico, Halle McHugh, Hailey Loftin, Zoie Obst, Grace Kowalevsky, Emma Doyle, Grace Brenton, Nicole Mason and Montgomery Odle.
“They had incredible leadership,” he says. “The hard work was never a question. The unity was never a question. The determination to include everybody was never a question. They all had a role in making this year special.”
His thoughts returned to the connection he often finds between sports and faith.
“Peace and joy are what God wishes for us. When you see it, that’s why I coach.” †