Staff and the glory days: Stephen Passinault

Remy Tittel, Sports Reporter

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What high school did you attend and which sports did you play?

I attended Grand Rapids Catholic Central and played football, basketball, and baseball

How did you get started into these sports?

I grew up with five brothers and a dad who all loved sports. We followed all of the Detroit sports teams professionally and Notre Dame with college sports. We were competitive with each other in all sports and it just became a part of what we did. Moving from football to basketball to baseball depending on what season it was.

Who or what was your biggest support system?

I would say in addition to my brothers and dad I was fortunate to have some excellent coaches at a young age that were enthusiastic and considered them role models in my life.

How did you get started at Notre Dame University?

I had some choices to play small college baseball and basketball or to walk on for baseball at Notre Dame. I walked on, made the team and became a starting centerfielder my junior and senior years.

You knew Mr. Spielmaker while in high school, then continued onto college together. How does it feel to go from roommates to coworkers?

We have a special relationship growing up together in Grand Rapids, playing 3 sports together as teammates at Catholic Central, rooming together at Notre Dame and know working together at FHC has been great to reconnect with him. He is an integral part of our team here at FHC and we are fortunate to have him in this role.

How did playing baseball in college help you throughout your administrative career and your coaching career?

I think it gave me the attitude that when you work hard to achieve a goal and persevere through the times that are difficult that it will pay off in ways that you sometimes don’t understand until later in life. I hope I was able to pass this on to the athletes that I coached and to the students in our school.

What was your biggest athletic accomplishment in your college playing career?

Probably playing in our conference tournament finals my junior year with a chance to advance to the NCAA Tournament with an automatic bid but came up one game short. Personally was being named the defensive player of the year on our team my junior year.

How long and where did you coach?

I coached lower level football and baseball and varsity basketball at Cardinal Newman High School in Florida from 1984-1990, then basketball at Thomas More College in Kentucky from 1990-1993, and then varsity basketball at Grand Rapids Catholic Central from 1993-1999. I now coach Special Olympics Basketball at FHC.

What was so different about coaching in comparison to being a player?

“The challenge of game planning and motivating players instead of competing personally on the field or court.”

Looking back on your career in athletics as a whole, both coaching and playing, what is the biggest thing you took away from your life?

How to respond to adversity. In athletics, adversity may come from losing a game, getting cut, or having an injury. Life throws many challenging situations at us, some small and some very big. I have experienced both. Working hard, respecting others, and persevering through adversity are lessons I have learned through being an athlete and coach.

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