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Defining success “The CAV WAY” both on and off the field

Bella Plaia / Clemson University

Birmingham, Ala., August 24, 2021 – With an athletic program that continues to grow and diversify, John Carroll Catholic High School (JCCHS) is proud to announce a partnership with VNN that will digitally connect internal and external audiences to relevant and timely sports information.

John Carroll Catholic Cavs sign up with VNN to manage their online home for high school sports

“We are proud to announce our partnership with VNN – America’s largest and fastest growing high school sports communication platform,” said Dr. Anthony Montalto, JCCHS principal. “John Carroll has taken a bold approach to its marketing and communications efforts, and we are committed to bringing the type of first-class technology that VNN offers to our students, alumni, parents, fans and supporters. We see our partnership with VNN as a valuable way to connect our constituents to our athletic successes, and to deliver the message of what John Carroll has to offer, throughout the greater Birmingham area.”

That message is one of success, and is defined differently among various groups of people. For the student athletes at JCCHS, it is defined “The CAV WAY.”

New leadership brings a new course

In 2020, the leadership over the JCCHS football team changed, and a new course was set with a guiding mission driven by commitment, attitude, preparation and hard work. 

The new coaching staff brought a dedication to providing an inspirational, motivational and spiritual environment for student athletes who are committed to personal excellence and team success both on and off the field.

“Everything we do is done the “The CAV WAY,” says Will Mara, head football coach. “This guiding mission enables our student athletes to be successful on the field, in the classroom, in the community and in their future life endeavors. It is who we are.”

A graduate of JCCHS, who played both baseball and football, Mara was introduced as the new head football coach in May 2020. He has been a part of the program’s coaching staff since graduating in 2011 and does not take the opportunity to lead at his alma mater lightly.

John Carroll Catholic Cavs - Head Football Coach Will Mara talks about the Cav way and picking VNN

The student athletes at JCCHS know that when they subscribe to “The CAV WAY,” they are expected to do their job at the highest level. They are to take ownership and accountability for their individual roles and deliver results both on and off the field.

Our players know that WE (the team) are only as good as YOU (the individual),” says Mara. “Accountability is not just a team mentality for us, it’s representative of a brotherhood. This group of young men stands together on and off the field to represent their families, school and alumni base. They are fully committed to the idea that WE ARE YOU.

Mara and the other members of the football coaching staff teach their players that a positive attitude does not guarantee success, but that a negative attitude will guarantee failure. They want the young men under their care to understand that they control their attitudes, and that they are contagious either way. This way of thinking results in no self-doubt or team doubt, because each player knows his supreme confidence and courage is rooted in his faith.

Mara has assembled a support staff comprised of athletes from all levels of football play – high school, college and the NFL. To name a few: Kevin Drake – Gardendale (Ala.) High School, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Arizona Cardinals – coaches receivers; Mike Plaia – JCCHS, Army – coaches linebackers; Vince Elliott – Pinson Valley (Ala.) High School, UAB – coaches defensive ends and running backs; Stan White – Berry/Hoover (Ala.), Auburn University and New York Giants – serves as offensive analyst for the Cavaliers. Mara has also added a full-time strength, agility and nutrition coach in Jeremy Williams.  

The level in which the leadership at JCCHS is invested – in order to provide the best environment for their student athletes to succeed – is inspiring,” says Rick Ehrman, CEO of VNN. “It’s the epitome of what it looks like for a school, parents, alumni and members of the community at-large to unite in order to achieve a common goal. In this case, that goal reflects something our team believes in – community can be the end-result of a sport. Being a partner to every piece that makes that special is what makes us different.

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Title slide for VNN's interview of Rockford High School's Athletics Department Staff