Roncalli High School won its ninth football state title in November.
Seven of the championships came under legendary Head Coach Bruce Scifres. After 27 years as the Rebels’ head football coach, Scifres has announced his retirement from coaching to pursue his next calling in life. Scifres, 60, will become the new Executive Director of the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) in June.
“In this position, I will be overseeing a little bit of everything that the organization does,” explained Scifres. “It is very big. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis extends across central Indiana down through southern Indiana with the exception of Evansville. There are 24,000 kids involved in CYO activities. About 16,000 are involved in sports and 6,000 involved in camps. Activities include fine arts, science fairs, chess clubs and a little bit of everything. There are around 7,000 adult volunteers, coaches, who give of their time, people who help out with different activities and timers at track meets. It is a huge organization I’ll be overseeing.”
A New Mission
Scifres says the decision took much thought and prayer, but ultimately, he felt it was the right thing to do. “In March 2016, I attended a three-day sports ministry conference in Cincinnati,” recalled Scifres. “One of the things they had us to do was to write a personal mission statement. As I did that, it was thought-provoking and made me reflect on what was most important to me in my career as a coach and in my own personal life.
“I heard about the CYO position opening up. Ed Tinder, who has been there over 30 years, announced a year ahead of time of his resignation in order to get someone in there. The more I thought and prayed about it, it just seemed like the right thing to do. It matched that personal mission statement very closely.
“After the season was over, I applied,” said Scifres. “There were over 80 applicants for the position. I went through the interviewing process, and I was the final person they chose. I am very excited about it. I felt I have been very blessed to be part of some very good teams. I was blessed as a player in high school and college to be part of good teams. During my years as a coach, I have been blessed to have had much success. I feel like now I am joining a bigger team than I have ever been involved with before. I hope to have a strong influence on young people across the Archdiocese.”
A Lifetime of Preparation
Roncalli Athletic Director David Lauck played football for Scifres. He believes Scifres has been preparing for this type of position. “Just the way he has lived his life, he’s been geared toward a position like this as a leader, as a Christian man, as a person that can go out and talk about faith with any kid,” said Lauck. “Whether it’s a 5-year-old kindergartener or a 15-year-old freshman in high school, he has that ability to reach them, and that’s quite a gift he has.”
Time Well Spent
During his coaching era, the Rebels achieved great success on the field. However, Scifres believes his greatest achievement was the time he spent with his players. “My fondest memories center around being with kids,” Scifres recalled. “Obviously, [I] became closer to our football players who were amazing young men from awesome families. Having them for four years and then having their brothers and cousins later, you just become very close to them. They became like my sons.
“Our coaching staff has been phenomenal. They are good, smart people who are all in it for the right reasons. Hopefully, I have been a positive influence on our players and helped them as they strived each day to become the young men they were created to be.”
Scifres expects the Roncalli football program will continue to flourish. “We have a good talented group of young underclassmen,” he said. “We will graduate a good group of seniors this year, but we still have a good group of football players coming up. I am sure there will be a fair number of people interested in the position, not that I did anything special, but because the kids and the school are special. Anytime a school has won nine state championships, that is going to be an attraction for potential applicants.”
Big Shoes to Fill
Lauck plans to have a new head coach in place by May 1. “The previous four athletic directors didn’t have to hire a head football coach,” he said. “It’s certainly unique, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to continue what Coach Scifres and the coaches before him built. I know we’ll hire the right person to keep us moving forward.
“We’ll miss his presence. When you’re around a guy for that long, you’re familiar with him, and you build a bond with him, more of a colleague-type bond. I would say I was very fortunate to be able to play for him and to work with him.”