A couple of years ago, Jesuit Father Dave Anderson, alumni chaplain for Seattle University, was walking back to his office after visiting an alumnus near campus when the spirit moved him to take a detour to the school athletic complex, the Connolly Center. There he sought out the men’s basketball coach and asked if the team would be interested in having a Jesuit as team chaplain.
The idea had actually been on Fr. Anderson’s mind for awhile. As an undergraduate at Gonzaga University, he’d observed Jesuit Father Tony Lehman taking a seat as chaplain alongside the players and coaches at men’s basketball games. “What it said to me,” says Anderson, “was that the Jesuits are involved in all aspects of students’ lives.”
At Seattle University, Anderson was welcomed onto the basketball team. Later in that first season, when the Redhawks played the University of Washington, Anderson had occasion to meet Cameron Dollar, then assistant coach for the Huskies. Dollar would be introduced as SU’s new head coach a month later, and one of his very first orders of business was to ask Anderson to continue on as chaplain. The Jesuit enthusiastically re-upped.
A similar arrangement would soon be made on the women’s side. Not long after Joan Bonvicini was hired as SU’s head coach of women’s basketball in 2009, she found herself at a staff meeting, sitting next to Jesuit Father Natch Ohno, assistant to the vice president for Student Development. Fr. Ohno asked Bonvicini if there was anything the Jesuit community could do for the team. “Without missing a beat, she said, ‘Well, I want a Jesuit on the bench,’” Ohno recalls. He checked with his rector, and it was decided he would join the team.
What exactly does it mean to be team chaplain? Read more at Seattle University’s online magazine.