The Rev. Craig Kocher, the university chaplain, was invited to lead workshops during the Campus Pride College Sports Summit at University of Richmond on the intersection of athletics, human sexuality and religion.
“My role there was not to give answers or make pronouncements or anything like that,” Kocher said. “My role there was simply to lead some conversations about the intersections of different identities and how those intersections take shape in the lives of administrators, coaches and teams and also the lives of students.”
In the first workshop, Kocher led the discussion on how administrators and coaches could create environments where people can be authentic to who they are and bring their whole selves to the team culture. Kocher also met with a few student-athletes in his second workshop and talked about some of the challenges that athletes face.
“Athletes have a variety of different identities as people of religious faith and in their own identities as students and identities as trying to understand their own sexuality,” he said. “My job there was not … to represent all religious traditions everywhere, but rather to provoke some conversation. And they were good conversations, so I was really grateful to be a part of it.”
Ted Lewis, associate director of Common Ground, said the university worked to support the entire campus community and engage in meaningful and respectful dialogue around differences.
“We partner with [the chaplaincy] because we believe that we must embrace the fullness of all our communities’ identities, including spirituality and faith, as well as gender and sexuality,” Lewis said. “I believe the chaplaincy is a great partner and their staff are great allies.
“They assist our students, faculty, staff and community grapple with difficult questions of faith and identity.”
The chaplaincy oversees 18 different religious life groups on campus.
“I know people of different backgrounds and different religious traditions have different experiences and have different feelings on the subject of human sexuality,” Kocher said. “I think when those conversations are had well, in a spirited generosity and openness, and a desire to learn others’ perspectives, I think those are really healthy conversations.”
Contact reporter Sabrina Islam at firstname.lastname@example.org