Hundreds of fans got an up-close look into the spiritual lives of some of the biggest names in Winnipeg professional sports on Sunday evening.
A sold-out crowd packed into the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre for the tenth annual Pro Sports and Faith Night. The evening is a fundraiser for Lorne Korol, the Chaplain to the Blue Bombers, Jets, and Moose, and stars like Adam Lowry and Brady Oliveira were in attendance. Korol runs chapel programs for players on the teams, as well as admin and support staff. His wife, Heather, also runs a Bible study for the wives of Bombers players.
Mark Scheifele, Josh Morrisey, and Mason Appleton from the Jets, and Willie Jefferson, Jackson Jeffcoat, Rasheed Bailey, and Brandon Alexander from the Bombers, talked openly about the importance chapel plays for them in keeping grounded in faith amid the demands of being a professional athlete.
Scheifele is the chapel leader for the Jets and has been for several years. "For me, it's the ability to take a step back," he says about the chapel program.
"We get competitive, we're overthinkers, we continue to just think, and think, and think, (about hockey), so it's a good way to step back and think about other things. To think about your faith, think about where you're at as a person, think about your family, and Lorne does a good job of challenging us."
Jackson Jeffcoat and Brandon Alexander share leadership duties for the Bombers chapel program. Jeffcoat says that the experience has helped him not just grow in faith, but also learn how to become a more vulnerable person.
"Growing up, my dad played professional football, and all our business was family business - everything stayed in the house and we were not vulnerable," Jeffcoat says. "So being vulnerable is a new thing for me. In chapel, with these guys, I've been trying to work on being vulnerable and talk about different things that happened in childhood or reasons why I am the way I am. Learning more about Christ and how to help people know Him, and how to study the Bible has been helpful for me. It's helped me to really bring my 'A game.'"
The night was an eye-opener for many, and a reminder that while we may elevate athletes to a certain status, and hold them to high expectations, at the end of the day they are human beings that deal with the same struggles and life situations as everyone else.