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The Catholic Defender: Alabama does it again with Nick Saban

Tuscaloosa Alabama, the Crimson Tide recently won their fifth National Championship in a nine year period.

The Coach, Nick Saban has been the Coach for Alabama all five of these Championships. He also has another National Championship while coach of the LSU Tigers so as a Coach he has a total of 6 Championships making him one of the greatest of all time. He has now caught up with the Great Coach Bear Bryant!

As coach, he is well loved by both his players and the fans. Something that most people might not be aware of, Coach Nick Saban is a devout Catholic.

About five years ago, when preparing to play Notre Dame for the National Championship (January 7, 2013), Coach Saban fondly spoke of Notre Dame: “Being a Catholic kid growing up, I always watched Notre Dame and everybody in my family was interested in what Notre Dame did,…”

I can personally identify with that as I too use to be a huge fan of Notre Dame growing up.

At least until Notre Dame invited President Obama to speak to the school in defiance of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and where several good Catholics were arrested for standing up for children.

The Saban family attends Mass in Tuscaloosa at the St. Francis of Assisi University Parish located about two blocks from where the Crimson Tide practices. The Bishop of the Diocese of Birmingham (Robert J. Baker) is a huge fan, he says that Coach Sabin “goes to church every Sunday”!

I have been an Alabama fan now for several years as my wife, Gigi, is originally from Alabama. Naturally, after retiring from the Army from Fort Hood Texas, guess where we have eventually move? (At least for a couple of years) Alabama!

Not only is Coach Sabin a great leader and teacher on the football field, who instills a great cohesion among his players, he leads by example. Coach has a Priest offer Mass before every game.

Father Gerald Holloway (now transferred by the Church in a routine move) served as the team chaplain leading the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer before and after games. That would also include the recent BCS Championship where Alabama beat George 26-23 in one of the greatest championship games of all time.

Forbes Magazine once named Coach Saban as “The Most Powerful Coach in Sports”! In 2013, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

Nick Saban and his wife, Terry, were married on December 18, 1971 and together have two children, Nicholas and Kristen and they support several causes in the community. Nick and Terry founded “Nick’s Kids” helping children who are mentally challenged. They also contribute to the V Foundation that does research looking to improve treatment for cancer.

Coach Saban is also supported the building of a Student Center for St. Francis University Church. Nick Saban sent the following to The Tuscaloosa News: “With the growing student population at the University of Alabama, there is a tremendous need at St. Francis University Church for a student center -– a place where students can continue their spiritual development as well as socialize in a friendly, safe environment, Terry (Saban’s wife) and I are proud to be a part of the support for the new student center as well as the recently built St. Francis church on our campus where our family worships. Of all the legacies we may leave behind, this Catholic student center will be one that will touch many lives in a positive way over the years.”

As Catholics, we are called to give what we can to help those in need. Some can give more, others can only give time and energy. I’ve been on both sides of the line on that. I have had times I could give more, and I’ve had times I can only do things to help out. I can relate to what St. Paul writes, “Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”

We do what we can where we can and how great it is when we see Catholics like Coach Saban that is not afraid to witness the faith by his devotion, his family, and his work. Colossians 3:23-24 states, “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ.”

In this life, some of us might obtain great stature and position, but no matter our position, on God’s team, there is no second string. We are all “A”team and first string. We are all important, no matter where we are planted in life. How great it is when we see someone, flaws and all, none of us are perfect, but who uses their gifts to give back to the Lord.

It is important that our young people have good role modals and the Saints in heaven make the greatest of role modals. But it is also good to find people of faith using their influence to guide and teach others the right way, the golden rule.

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