Athletics through a Catholic lens: Personal development above competitive outcomes
Don’t get us wrong: We enjoy competition in our sports at the Abbey. But we see athletics as one more aspect of college life that forms the entire person. Competitive sport can develop both physical prowess and virtuous characteristics. Inspired by this belief, we founded the Sport Virtue Institute at Belmont Abbey College. The concept originated from the idea that other institutions could also direct their athletics programs toward the pursuit of developing virtue. The institute offers many programs to educate and form athletes and coaches in excellence and virtue.
About The institute
Our vision is of a world where sport is properly directed and virtue triumphs. Our vision is to build a culture of sport where virtue and world-class performance meet.
Sport, properly directed, develops character, makes a man courageous, a generous loser, and a gracious victor; it refines the senses, gives intellectual penetration, and steels the will to endurance. It is not merely a physical development then. Sport, rightly understood, is an occupation of the whole man, and while perfecting the body as an instrument of the mind, it also makes the mind itself a more refined instrument for the search and communication of truth and helps man to achieve that end to which all others must be subservient, the service and praise of his Creator.
— Pius XII, Sport at the Service of the Spirit
Our mission is to educate, form, and train athletes and coaches in excellence and virtue so that they will consistently achieve the highest possible level of performance while leading good and happy lives.
We believe that athletic performance can only be perfected by addressing and developing the whole person in mind, body, and soul. Athletes and coaches who demonstrate virtue through habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern their actions, order their passions, and guide their conduct according to reason and faith*, possess the necessary character to realize their full potential.
Combining virtue with a thorough knowledge, deep understanding and skillful practice of sports science, psychology and human movement will enable coaches and practitioners to provide athletes with the foundation for making excellence and virtue a habit in their quest for peak performance.
*CCC, Part 3, Sect 1, Ch 1, Art 7, 1804.
Inspiration from the President
Dr. Bill Thierfelder, president of Belmont Abbey College, is a former Olympic athlete who strongly believes in the unbreakable bond between physical prowess and virtue. Check out his practice advice in these videos.