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Archive for Thursday, November 12, 1992

GRIDIRON PREACHERS

November 12, 1992

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The Revs. Vince Krische and Leo Barbee are sideline regulars at every Kansas University home football game.

But they're not coaches. They're not trainers. They're not equipment managers or even security officers.

Krische, a Catholic priest, and Barbee, a Baptist minister, are the football team's spiritual counselors the team chaplains.

"Coach Mason runs a really good program," says Krische, head chaplain. "The fact that he has a chaplain for the team is an indication of his concern about the total dimension of the team."

Barbee agreed with Krische's assessment of Kansas football coach Glen Mason.

"I do know that some of the athletes came here to play because of the spiritual dimension," said Barbee, who is assistant chaplain. "Their parents were very appreciative that the coaches were concerned about their spiritual growth as well as their growth in their academic and athletic abilities."

KRISCHE, CHAPLAIN at St. Lawrence Catholic Center, 1631 Crescent Rd., and Barbee, who is pastor of Victory Bible Church, 1629 W. 19th, receive no pay for their service.

About half of the players attend voluntary ecumenical services before the game, Krische said.

The pre-game prayers are full of hope but they aren't prayers for a victory, Krische said.

"What we always pray for is that we'll do our best, that we will be free of injuries and that we will play as a team," he said.

The service is generally tailored to the circumstances of the game that week, he said.

For example, before last week's game against Nebraska, the prayer service focused on the gospel teaching that one must walk through the narrow gate, or take the road less traveled.

"Nebraska was supposed to be a difficult game, so we were reflecting on how that relates to life," Krische said. "In the Iowa State game, when we came back after being down by so many points, the prayer topic I had selected for that day was about perseverance. And it paid off."

THE CHAPLAINS also are asked to say a prayer in the locker room after the game.

"You pattern the prayers after what the circumstances are," Krische said. "If we lose, it's a prayer of encouragement. If we win, it's a prayer of gratitude."

Barbee, who is in his fifth year as assistant chaplain, said he tries to be a role model to many of the black athletes on the team. He said that was his goal in asking to be assistant chaplain.

"I told Coach Mason, because we have a lot of black athletes on the team, I felt they needed to see a black man as a role model, other than just the coaches," Barbee said. "So I asked Coach Mason if I could serve as a chaplain. . . . As a result of that, we have good rapport with coaches and with the team."

IN ADDITION to the game-day activities, Barbee and Krische attend some practices and they try to encourage injured players.

"If someone is injured, we know that can be discouraging, so we tell them to try to hang in there and keep their heads up," Barbee said. "If they have operations, we try to visit them."

Barbee said he also conducts a Bible study service for team members each Thursday.

Barbee said he and Krische get very involved in cheering for the players during the game.

"I enjoy it," Barbee said. "I like athletics, and I like the atmosphere. I think it's good to be available to the young men."

It's Krische's turn to provide the inspirational message to the team at the pre-game prayer service Saturday, before the matchup against the University of Colorado.

What's he hope to convey to the team as it heads into its final home game of the 1992 season?

"I'm working on that," Krische said. "This is a very important game for us."

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