Sideline Mission

Athletic Chaplain Kerry Phillips '22 reflects on her experience serving the Women's Soccer Team.

While athletic competition is often seen as a platform for personal success, identity, and pride, nursing major and soccer goalkeeper Kerry Phillips ’22 sees things a little differently. For Kerry, the excitement of her sport is not only found in the adrenaline rush of a win, but in the relationships and spiritual support she is able to provide her team as their Athletic Chaplain.

“Serving as chaplain for the women's soccer team has provided me a unique opportunity to share about my faith and create an open atmosphere for others to share about theirs,” Kerry explains. “My primary role is to serve my teammates and address their spiritual needs in a variety of ways.”

“Athletics often comes with a lot of pride, security, and identity issues as players compete for the win, the coach’s attention, or a spot on the field. However, when those things are taken away for one reason or another and it no longer satisfies, it leaves an empty hole in the heart of an athlete.”

Kerry personally experienced this when several concussions landed her a spot on the bench instead of in goal. “Though I’m still grieving, I’ve learned that sitting on the bench has enabled me to see what is happening on the field, and just as importantly, on the sidelines. I’ve had to lean into Christ to find my identity instead – and I want the same for other athletes – to know that they are worthy, loved, seen, and enough apart from what they can offer athletically.”

Flexibility is key to Kerry’s role as chaplain. “Flexibility in this role involves building relationships that can exist apart from the rigid structures and schedules that life as a student, athlete, family member, and friend can constrain us to. Without practicing flexibility, community cannot exist,” Kerry believes. “Making myself available and flexible has given me the opportunity to be attuned to and respond to the unique needs of my team and to encourage them as they navigate life in and out of their sport.”

This article was originally featured in the Fall 2021 Edition of Eastern Magazine. View the full magazine here.