For Eileen Doherty, instructing new referees, coaching young players in a variety of sports and encouraging lay directors and coaches throughout our South Central CYC District was truly a way of life…
Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Eileen learned early on the importance of generously sharing her God-given gifts. While playing varsity volleyball, basketball and track in high school, she made the time to coach three of her younger sisters’ parochial sports teams. Later, she organized basketball referees throughout the Bronx, initiated an instructional basketball program for 1st and 2nd graders, and taught skiing and a variety of other sports for the Oxford Special Olympics in Connecticut; all while working for 31 years installing first pay phones and later fiber optic cables for Verizon. On her rare free nights and weekends, she could be found on the sidelines of fields throughout Connecticut and New York, cheering on her 17 nieces and nephews at a myriad of sporting events. And that was just her first 50 years!
In January 2003, accompanied by her three dogs, a love of the NY Mets and all things Irish and the willingness to volunteer wherever she was needed, Eileen moved to St. Louis. In the last 12 years, she managed to get involved in just about every aspect of CYC sports. From the beginning, she stepped up to coach volleyball, basketball and softball at Sacred Heart in Valley Park. Later, when they needed a high jump coach, she again accepted the challenge, spending hours watching DVDs on the proper techniques for the high jump. To her credit, a number of her jumpers went on to jump successfully throughout high school.
Eileen also became active in the Athletic Association at Sacred Heart, first as the parish registrar and then as its president. Outside of her parish involvement, Eileen worked at the district level as both the parish lay director and the president of South Central volleyball. And, if that were not enough to keep her busy, she trained the volleyball referees and score keepers both at her parish and throughout the district.
In addition, it is well known that Eileen possessed a special talent of “inviting” people to step up and get involved. Anyone foolish enough to make eye contact with her found themselves coaching a volleyball team or two. Yet, even in that, she was always there with anyone who needed help. On any given night throughout the months of August-November, you would typically find her in the gym, coaching, encouraging, leading. Eileen was not afraid to stand up for the truth, even when that was not popular or easy to do. In that way, she earned the respect of parents, players and coaches throughout the district. Eileen was a MSHSAA referee for high school volleyball, taking the time to instruct and encourage the student line judges and score keepers. She had an amazing ability to remember everyone’s name, and in that way, she was able to make each person with whom she worked feel special and known. Maybe what best testifies to her selfless generosity is the fact that she gave her time and talents without ever having a child of her own in the CYC program. Her legacy truly challenges us all to get involved, to share our talents, to be Christ for others.
Eileen truly shared her time, talent and treasure to make Sacred Heart Athletic Association and the sports programs successful. Since she came to St. Louis after 9/11, she served as a volleyball coach, a basketball coach and a track coach. In addition to this she was the president of the CYC’s South Central District for volleyball, the Sacred Heart volleyball program and of the Sacred Heart Athletic Association. She did all this and did not even have a child in the programs she worked with.
She was a great mentor, coach (I know this because she coached both of my daughters’ parochial teams) and friend to so many coaches and young athletes. Under Eileen’s volleyball reign, Sacred Heart’s volleyball refs have become some of the most sought after refs in the South Central District. Our volleyball program has grown. The sports offered for athletes have grown to include golf, and lacrosse. She helped with the opening of Sacred Heart’s gym and her beloved padded chairs. She brought adult volleyball from Rockwood to our gym and introduced those of us who play to geriatric volleyball (one bounce).
I am truly thankful that I have gotten to know Eileen. She has taught me to be a good coach, ref, gym monitor and so much more. Her positive outlook (God is not finished with me yet), great sense of humor (telling her nephews that her name was Eileen Over), her New York accent (watch out for the antenner), her ability to get people to do something just by looking into their eyes, these are just a few of the things that I will miss about her.
I remember when she first had the melanoma removed from her back. She was certain that the doctors got it all. It seemed like this was true until a few years later, she started having a tingling feeling in her legs that would not go away. She tried going to her chiropractor who treated her for a while before sending her to an orthopedist. The orthopedist ran some tests and found the tumors (lower spine, ribs and lungs) and decided to do surgery on her spine in December of 2013. She came through the surgery in true Eileen form and underwent an intensive chemo treatment. In the spring of 2014 her oncologist decided that she no longer needed chemo. Things seemed to be going great until August. Eileen was now having trouble using her right arm. Eileen’s cancer was back (on her spine near her neck and lesions in the brain). Eileen asked me and Lynn Vogel to help run the SHVP gym for the volleyball season and we did not hesitate to help her. She was in and out of the gym until the cancer began to take its toll. I feel very privileged in that my family and I got to say good-bye to Eileen and to tell her that we would continue to help with the SHVP volleyball program to ensure that her legacy would continue.
This is one of Eileen’s favorite volleyball prayers: Gentle Father, we thank You for the gifts and talents that You have given us. We ask You to help us use them today as we play these volleyball games. Guide our hands, our feet and our mouths that we may show good sportsmanship and kindness to all. And let us take the skills we are learning here with us as we go forth –to “set” a good example in all our actions, to “pass’ on to others Your love, and to “serve” You in all we do. And watch over all those who have been touched by Eileen’s life. We ask this through Your Son, Jesus. Amen
Thank you Eileen for setting such a good example for all of us, passing on your skills to us, and serving us.