The Bryn Athyn College Athletic Department is excited to be launching a multifaceted spiritual life program for their student athletes. The first portion included an “Athletics Commissioning Service” which was held on Sunday, November 8, 2015 in the Bryn Athyn Cathedral. The commissioning service was led by Rev. Dr. Thane Glenn, and his talk explored the real meaning of courage and whole-heartedness on and off the field. Each of the twelve intercollegiate athletic programs, representing 130 student-athletes, received a blessing to carry with them into the athletic season by Glenn. He says “It was powerful to be able to speak to our athletes about how our spiritual mission might show up for them on and off the field. As chaplain, I look for opportunities to challenge our students to reflect on what a spiritual path might look like in their day-to-day lives. We talked about the kind of courage it takes to play the game for a higher win — for God and for our neighbors (whether they are on our team or our opponent’s). To be able to stand with our students in the blessing circle and pray with them was incredibly rewarding.”
In conjunction with the Commissioning Service, Bryn Athyn Athletics will launch a new “Athletic Chaplaincy” program for our student-athletes. A team chaplain is a college community volunteer who possesses both an understanding of Bryn Athyn College’s mission and values as well as a desire to be more involved in student life. The primary responsibility is to be present to a designated athletic team by forming positive relationships and providing personal and spiritual support to student-athletes. Glenn shared his thoughts on the chaplaincy program: “I think that to be able to connect with a spiritual mentor could make a huge impact on many of these students’ lives. Not only could it be a daily reminder of what it looks like to bring Bryn Athyn’s spiritual mission into their play, it could also open up a new dimension in their individual lives. All of us face struggles as we walk our paths, and for our athletes to know someone is there for them, pulling for them and offering them guidance — that will be a blessing.”
Team chaplains “walk with” student-athletes during their transformative journey by modeling core values, among them respect, integrity, and teamwork, in a manner that is authentic to the unique gifts chaplains offer as individuals. The team chaplain role is designed to be one of encouragement, vision, and leadership. The team chaplain maintains a partnership with the head coach and coaching staff and provides a healthy and balanced perspective to team members by capitalizing on moments that offer learning opportunities and leadership lessons. Graham Lermitte, a Business/Psychology major, believes the initiative “will help teams to focus on the true meaning of courage, which is having the heart to do the right thing, even when it might not be easy…having a spiritual mentor in our corner will help us stay focused on what really matters.”
The goal is to provide our students with a spiritual message each year at the Commissioning Service which can act as a touchstone for the teams as they practice, compete, and study together. With the help of the team chaplain, student-athletes will apply these messages on and off the court throughout the season. Finally, each season will conclude with an “Evening of Reflection” to examine how each student was able to apply the message.
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