Mad for…Chris

Don’t worry to the point of losing your inner peace. Pray with perseverance, with faith, with calmness and serenity. (St. Padre Pio)

August 17, 2019– Today, our youngest son, Zach, opened up his tennis career officially at Guerin Catholic. After taking up the sport about a year ago, he’s come a long way, but there’s still a lot to learn and significant experience to be gained. Fortunately for him and 34 or other young GC Golden Eagles, there’s a good man leading the way for them and lighting the path. Allow me to introduce you to Coach Chris Sciaudone.

Chris is a faith-filled man and the husband to Stephanie as well as the father to Sophia, Jack and Lauren. As a coach, he is firm and demanding but also incredibly encouraging. We’ve been sports parents a long time now, and this is a guy who goes out of his way to be friendly, upfront, and welcoming to parents as well as young people. It’s refreshing and heartening!

I’ve been looking around my life for folks to affirm in a very intentional way this year, and only a couple of times has someone been “nominated”. At the time his name was suggested to me by Todd Metzger, I didn’t know enough about him…but I’ve been watching, learning, and praying for this man for a little while now.  He’s quite incredible and I want to tell you a bit about what I’ve learned.

Chris Sciaudone is fighting brain cancer.  He shared today that he took a big tumble on a fishing boat a couple of years back and ended up with a badly broken arm that required multiple surgeries.  Testing and scans done at that time prompted the doctors to ask him if he had ever had a stroke.  That’s a bit of a strange question to ask a guy with a broken arm, and it sounds like the red flag went up in a big way in his mind.  It sounded providential to me, as he may not have found the more serious underlying condition were it not for that terrible arm injury.  Long story short, after many doctors appointments and some time at the Mayo Clinic, Chris had brain surgery.  Also, he’s a frequent flyer on the MRI circuit and he continues to receive treatments and care as he bravely and joyfully lives his life.

“Being brave doesn’t mean we have no fear- it means we refuse to be overcome by it.”  Some guy named Steven Furtick said that, and I think he’s absolutely right.  When Chris finished giving us his health update today before the GC vs. Fishers tennis match, he seemed optimistic and full of energy.  He was the very embodiment of Mr. Furtick’s idea about what true bravery is about.  

Chris Sciaudone is the kind of guy who is more concerned about others than himself.  For instance, when I reminded him that he is on my prayer list, he thanked me but asked that I pray especially for his children.  He knows they take their cues from him and are well-adjusted kiddos, but he’s also aware that his health challenges don’t come at no cost to all who care about him.  Then, he looked over his shoulder to the 35 or so GC tennis players now on the property, and he headed off to greet them and get them going at their first match of the season. 

After the matches were all over today, Coach caught up with my Zach and asked him how he thought he had played.  They both agreed there’s more work to do.  Then, he finished, “Hey Zach, are you the first of the Thieme boys to get Varsity action as a freshman?”  Cue the BIG SMILE.  “Yes, Coach, I am.”  Coach Sciaudone?  He’s an encourager.

So, here’s what I’ve learned so far from Chris Sciaudone.  We should all train ourselves to find the blessing in all things.  Obsessing or overthinking things is much less constructive than just remembering to breathe and having faith that God will stand beside us as we journey through life.  The morning chat with Chris reminded me of the famous quote by Muhammed Ali.  Don’t count the days.  Make the days count.  We should all work to do that, don’t you agree?

Thanks for all you are doing each day for others, Chris!  I find you incredibly inspiring by the way you live your life.  Stephanie, Sophia, Lauren and Jack are truly blessed to have you in their corner…and so are the rest of us who are lucky enough to find you along our path.  God bless you and GO GOLDEN EAGLES!

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