CNAA Connects Catholic Athletic Departments to Drive On-Field Success
Catholic schools are unique; many of their principles and practices differ from traditional schools in the U.S. In the past, the California Catholic Athletic Directors Association (CCADA) helped presidents, principals, athletic administrators, coaches and trainers create successful athletic departments within Catholic schools, but in 2017 Leo Lopoz, Vice President of Athletics for De La Salle High School, saw a need for more.
Starting with the 2017-2018 school year, Lopoz founded the CNAA—Catholic National Athletic Association—to connect athletic departments at Catholic schools across the nation.
“The group started under the notion that Catholic schools are different from other schools, not in a bad or good way, just different,” Lopoz said. “It is important for staff at Catholic schools to meet and discuss topics relevant to their individual needs, to share advice and information with each other.”
Lopoz took his vision for CNAA to his peers, colleagues at Catholic schools across California, holding a meeting in Lodi to discuss how a national association may help drive athletic programs at Catholic schools forward. The goal was to form a group that could support each other, bring awareness to Catholic schools in the U.S. and leverage partnerships with vendors who share a goal of making Catholic schools the best they can be.
With membership, schools connect with each other and benefit from shared knowledge. Here, they have a forum to discuss the unique challenges they face as Catholic institutions. Membership has benefits beyond a platform to discuss needs, with members receiving discounts through vendor partners, education for their athletic directors including materials such as a quarterly newsletter, webinars and an annual retreat, and access to a member database, where members share job postings, use a message board and arrange meetings and games.
“Our vision is to build all of the different aspects of athletic programs in Catholic schools,” Lopoz said.
While much of the structure of a Catholic athletic department resembles non-religious athletic administrations, there are key differences. Catholic schools instill faith-based lessons into their teachings and incorporate prayer. CNAA offers ideas on how to blend faith and sports seamlessly, driving the religious player forward in both their athletic training and faith.
With CNAA membership, members are invited to participate in events focused on advancing the athlete and the school as a whole, as well as hiring successful coaches and managing a budget. Ultimately the vision is to provide all of the tools a Catholic school needs to run a successful athletic department year round.
Members enjoy promotion benefits to drive traffic to game days and increase revenue as well as discounts on services that improve the game day atmosphere. Topics reach across all sports—soccer, track and field, football, basketball, tennis, golf, and more—to ensure the needs of every team within an athletic department is being met through CNAA.
The assembled Board of Directors are experts in their own right. They hold backgrounds in Catholic school athletic administrations, have experienced success both on and off the field and share their expertise with the world around them, not just through CNAA, but also with published works and speaking engagements.
At its core, CNAA exists to progress athletic departments at Catholic schools. To help admin learn from each other, navigate the unique world of Catholic school sports at the high school level and drive traffic to games and administrations. By learning from others in the same arena, Catholic athletic directors can find success in their respective programs, with faith as its driving force.