The PCA Blog - Tampa Bay

PCA-Tampa Bay Snapshot: Building Championship Programs


Last Tuesday, the Sword and Shield Room at the University of Tampa illuminated with excitement and opportunity. Strong supporters of PCA-Tampa Bay and some of the most influential personalities around the community demonstrated their eagerness to increase their involvement with PCA, while networking over cocktails and Hor D'oeuvres. The mission of the Champions Club event is to enhance the outreach and philanthropic efforts of PCA-Tampa Bay while providing guests with a fun night of food, drinks and conversation as a way of thanking them for their involvement.

We were able to hear from the athletic leaders of UT through a panel session moderated by JP Peterson of Sportradio 620 WDAE. The panel was made up of:

Joe Urso, Head Baseball Coach.

  • Former Spartan All-American
  • 16th season as head baseball coach at the University of Tampa; compiling a 705-203-1 record

Chris Catanach, Head Volleyball Coach

  • 32nd season as head volleyball coach at the University of Tampa
  • Ranked in the top-three of the national rankings all season; including two weeks at the No. 1 spot

Larry Marfise, Athletic Director

  • Served as the athletic director at the University of Tampa for 17 years
  • Captured seven NCAA II national championships under his direction.

The University of Tampa is well respected due to their high standards and commitment to creating a positive culture. It was clear to the audience that these men work hard to enforce a positive mindset – in the most respected way. They discussed what it’s like, emotionally, to watch their athletes grow and how coaching has changed over the years. They are successful leaders due to their ability to critically think as well as adapt to improve the team and elevate the game with every new season. All three gentlemen represent what it means to be a Double-Goal Coach®– to teach student athletes life lessons and to compete to win. This fulfills the ultimate objective in creating a solid team culture on and off the field.

Marfise has noticed that in his recent years, creating a healthy culture has been more of a challenge. He attributes the decline of balanced lifestyles among young athletes largely to the development of our youth and how they are raised/coached. Some of the issues they encounter develop from unhealthy teaching from parents/coaches in their early stages of life. One of the most common concerns is depression.

It’s a scary trend that has become all too common. These are essentially my kids and it’s hard to watch them suffer through these issues at such a young age.

- Larry Marfise, Athletic Director

Marfise’s remark opened many eyes to additional problems regarding youth development. It’s sad to see but it affirmed the importance of PCA-Tampa Bay in these kids' lives. The only way to help them grow is to role model healthy, positive behavior. Unfortunately a mentor is often times not performing the role, as they should be.

This brings us to the player’s image. It is not just about their “skill”. Coaches must take into consideration how an athlete represents him/herself. Players should have a clean image especially on social media. It’s become the easiest way to learn about a player and get a feel for how someone manages his or her life – whether it’s an accurate representation or not, it will be used to judge character. Coach Catanach feels that social media is adding to these unbalanced lifestyles. Social media is such an integral part of a young person’s life, it is important for them to be aware of the perception it creates. Coaches see this first hand.

Social media has changed everyone. It’s so hard to get the athletes to understand the importance of monitoring what they say and how they say it online.

Chris Catanach, Head Volleyball Coach

Catanach feels some of this disconnect stems from preventing kids from expressing how they feel and lead conversations with the coach. In his later years he’s noticed an increase in parent involvement. Initially, this may sound like a good thing, however, parents have the power to reverse all of the positive lessons the young athlete has been taught. Many parents are not holding their child accountable when it comes to handling situations on their own. They instead are taking it upon themselves to solve the young person’s problems. Unfortunately, this eliminates space for growth and self-awareness. Coach Catanach believes that a lot of these issues could be solved if parents/coaches.

… let the kids be the lead speaker. Let kids be kids. Keep them directed but let them lead the way."

Chris Catanach, Head Volleyball Coach

Coach Urso is trying to take the student-athletes and get them on back on track. One of his approaches is to simply expose his players to new opportunities and perspectives. Players who help others less fortunate have a direct positive effect on others’ lives and are profoundly impacted personally, as well. Responsibility is being fortunate enough to have the decision making options of, for example, going to practice, staying late to hit a few more balls, and attending optional practices –even if it’s on Sunday. Responsibility is then taking those options and making good choices because you can. So many young athletes do not have the opportunity to play at the collegiate level. Coach Urso has created a culture where his athletes feel pride when they embrace those moments. It is also why he feels so strongly about recruiting players who have developed socially and emotionally and are not just the most “talented” players.

We do the best we can to get the right personality for this program. Their success stems from the characteristics of the team not just their talent.

Joe Urso, Head Baseball Coach

This Champions Club event raised many new opportunities. There are many ways we can help people grow and develop. Using sports as a vehicle has been the best approach for young athletes – that’s apparent when talking to any coach. The struggle that the coaches at UT are dealing with is widespread. They are not alone and it’s crucial for them to be provided with the resources and support they need to truly make a difference and help change these kids’ lives in positive ways.

Thank you to all that donated and came out to support Champions club. For more information, email Hannah Cimon at

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