Coach Dale Schilling on wins, losses, and getting children to heaven

by Susan Moses

Catholic News Service

Coach Dale SchillingCoach Dale Schilling
Coach Dale Schilling (NTC/Rodger Mallison)

Coach Dale Schilling has a favorite analogy to describe Catholic education. By going to Catholic school, he explained, a little bit of the Catholic faith sticks to you every day. By the time you graduate, you are covered in it.

By now, Schilling has been covered in more layers of the Catholic faith than a lasagna has layers of cheese.

The youngest of six was raised in Muenster and graduated from Sacred Heart Catholic School in 1980. He played football and excelled at track, competing in distance events at the National Junior Olympics his junior and senior years.

He remembers “faith just oozing out of the place,” with religious sisters teaching most classes, three priests and a religious brother teaching high school, and Mass celebrated with students four times a week.

When he was in sixth grade, his mother died on the Feast of St. Joseph, her favorite saint. The tight-knit Sacred Heart community, especially his big sister Carla and the Walterscheid family, helped him cope with her death and kept him rooted in faith.

In 1983 he married a member of the Walterscheid family — his high school sweetheart, Elaine.

After graduating, Schilling didn’t forget his alma mater, which was founded in 1890 shortly after German Catholics settled the Cooke County town. He began coaching there part time while he attended college, then joined the school’s faculty after he earned his degree.

He has taught history, religion, and health; he also serves as dean of students; and he holds a 105 and 45 record as head football coach, plus 14 state championships in track.

Winning is not his main concern, however.

He explained, “I want to win, no doubt, but the most important thing is to try to get these children to heaven. You can ask anyone that I taught, ask them the most important thing in their life, and every one, I can assure you, will answer ‘their salvation.’ Wins and losses, yes, you want to have wins, but the most important thing is to try to get these children to heaven. I’ve got a burning desire there.”

His time with students on the athletic field provides some valuable opportunities to pass on the faith. For example, he appoints a team chaplain who either leads his teammates in prayer before each practice or selects a teammate to do it.

Lessons learned in competition also carry over to the faith. He tells his athletes, “If you stop training, stop running, stop lifting weights, atrophy sets in. Your muscles get weak. You’re not as strong. You’re not the athlete you were before.

“Same thing in your faith. As long as you continue it and push it and pray those Rosaries and continue to pray, you’re going to stay strong. But once you slow down and stop, just like training, you can have atrophy in your faith as well.”

With his roots firmly established at Sacred Heart, the coach’s faith continues to flourish.

He said, “My faith has grown so much stronger. You preach it, so you need to live it. I push so hard to make sure the students are going to Mass. We go three days a week [at school], but I really push to make sure they fulfill their Sunday obligation of going to Mass. . . .  I’m very fortunate to take students to Adoration every single Friday.”

His philosophy as a Catholic educator and coach can be summarized simply: always pray, and never give up. He said, “If you keep on it, keep instilling it into them, they are going to get it and hopefully push it on to their children.”

Coach Dale Schilling

Coach Dale Schilling has a favorite analogy to describe Catholic education.