As a former college basketball team chaplain, I along with most of the country, was enamored with Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, the 98-year-old nun who serves the Loyola-Chicago basketball team as their team chaplain. She became this year’s feel-good story of the NCAA Final Four tournament. Sister Jean wearing her team’s colors would be rolled out in her wheelchair to court-side seating where she would cheer and pray for her beloved underdog Ramblers. Just this week following Loyola-Chicago’s eventual elimination from the tournament, the Washington Generals – the ultimate underdog; the traveling team that has lost every game they’ve played against the barnstorming Harlem Globetrotters’ since 1971– announced that they had offered Sister Jean a similar role as honorary team chaplain for the Generals. If you as a local church pastor have an opportunity to serve as a local team chaplain, I would encourage you to do it.
As a sports chaplain, it would be your responsibility to pray with and for your team, to serve, inspire and to unconditionally love the team members, coaches and managers. I have sat in hospital waiting rooms with parents of players who have had season ending knee injuries. You must be willing to invest your time but hopefully you have a passion for the sport they play and if you are allowed to do it, it can be most fulfilling for you and for those whom you serve. It is also a wonderful outreach to a group of people to whom this may be their only connection to a church. Success in sports takes more than just a strong body and an alert mind. I have always believed that a student athlete who is able to tap into the power of the Spirit as well. has a unique advantage in the game of basketball and in the parallel game of life. The Bible has many references to sporting competitions that can be used in locker rooms as lessons for on the court and in life.
If you are interested in finding out more about how to become your local school’s team’s chaplain. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org