Voice of the Notre Dame Prep Saints

The Seraphim

Students combine faith and sports lives

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By Aaron Somo

Whether it’s Tim Tebow kneeling in the end zone or Albert Pujols signing the cross as he crosses home plate, pro athletes are well-known for their displays of faith.

Many of the student­-athletes at NDP are no different when it comes to the strength of their faith. Yet, according to NDP baseball player senior Casey Cooper, balancing studies, sports and religious obligations can prove difficult.

Cooper, senior class president, integrates his faith into his everyday activities with baseball: “I don’t think I would be where I am skill wise with the abilities that I have if not for God, and for that I am thankful every day.”

He added, “While in season, I have to choose what to focus on the most. Church and team tournaments often conflict on weekends, but I try to pray on my own.”

In “God of the Playing Field” from the Harvard Crimson, former Crimson point guard, now Charlotte Hornet, Jeremy Lin, said religious life at the institution was difficult to keep up. Not only because of academic and athletic responsibilities, but also due to the secular environment at the university.

“My teammates would make fun of me or make fun of Christianity or make fun of God,” said Lin, who said he strived to influence those around him more than they influenced him.

Some non­religious fans and players criticize those who exhibit their faith. As an outspoken Christian himself, former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner told Greg Bishop of The New York Times, “…people automatically think that when you praise God it’s because He makes passes go straighter or helps win games. When you lose, they say, your faith doesn’t belong here. Your God’s not helping you win.”

Warner continued said his faith never depended on whether or not his team won. Rather, he believes that as long as he gives his all in whatever he does, the outcome will be that of God’s will.

Some athletes like Elianna Shwayder, cross country runner at Harvard, keep their faith more personal by saying a prayer in their head. Shwayder told the Harvard Crimson that each time she lines up, she recites in her head the simple line, “For the King, then the ring.”

NDP’s own Father Phil Evanstock said, “Faith and football go hand in hand. Football teaches you not only faith in God, but also faith in yourself and others around you.”

Math teacher since NDP’s inception, he regularly says Mass for the teams who play against the Arizona

Cardinals. “It is part of their preparation,” he said. “They feel that they must give thanks to God before they go step on the field.”

Of the many ways faith is shown, a common thread between student­-athletes is to attribute their success to God, sharing the mentality that without his gifts and guidance, they would never have made it to where they are.

Tyler Taffuri, inside linebacker for NDP football, said he strongly believes that thanks is owed to God before, during and after a game: “I ask God for protection and guidance in each one of my our games.” He added God inspires him on the field and fills him with an energy like nothing else can.

 

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Voice of the Notre Dame Prep Saints
Students combine faith and sports lives