A boys’ basketball team, coached by a nun: it’s not something you see every day, if even ever. It sounds more like the plot of a movie than real life, but that very thing is happening at St. Michael School in South Sioux City, Nebraska. The nun in question? Sr. Pauline Wolpert, an alumna of Christendom College, who is the first coach of the new boys’ basketball team at St. Michael’s.

Sr. Pauline Wolpert (left) coaching the boys’ basketball team at. St. Michael School. (CNS / The Catholic Voice / Jerry L. Mennenga)

Sr. Pauline is the focus of a new story by Global Sisters Report, with her coaching grabbing national attention. A member of the Leaven of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Sr. Pauline is currently obtaining a second degree in education online and is among several other members of her religious community helping at St. Michael’s School.

Sr. Pauline has been playing basketball for years. After playing as a point and shooting guard in high school, she played on the basketball team at Christendom during her freshman and sophomore years. Her freshman year, she was honored as the team’s rookie of the year and won its leadership award. While she thought she was going to leave this life behind when she entered the religious life, the boys at St. Michael’s pulled her back in, asking her to be their first coach and help start the boys’ basketball team.

Sr. Pauline played basketball at Christendom before joining the religious life. (CNS / The Catholic Voice / Jerry L. Mennenga)

Many had never played basketball before, and the season was already underway. The experience meant more than the number of wins and losses they achieved, however — the boys all agreed that Sr. Pauline was a great coach, and an inspiration.

“Sports is a mirror to the spiritual life,” Sr. Pauline told the Catholic Voice, a newspaper of the Archdiocese of Omaha. “You can’t become holy without holy habits, without that routine. With all the saints, they had that devotion to prayer, every day. They were consistent through ups and downs. And if you’re not exercising every day, you won’t do well on the court.”

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