Religion in Athletics: Colgate Christian Athletes Group

Religion in Athletics: Colgate Christian Athletes Group

The Colgate Christian Athletes Group (CCA) is a religious community on campus that creates a space for Christian athletes to discuss and practice their faith through the intersection of sports and religion.

The group is overseen by Corey MacPherson, associate chaplain and Protestant campus minister.

In addition to coordinating CCA meetings, Reverend MacPherson spends a large part of his time focused on advising protestant groups on campus, holding Church services every Sunday night. In his Chaplain role, MacPherson advises the Hindu Student Association, Sojourner’s Gospel Choir and the Colgate Christian Fellowship.

The CCA started seven years ago when a few student-athletes asked to meet weekly to practice their faith. The group consists of multiple denominations and traditions of the Christian faith, according to MacPherson.

“In this Chaplain role, we are trying to meet all the religious needs of students, that’s one of the reasons we put a Muslim prayer room down the hill [at 110 Broad Street], especially for Muslim athletes and Muslims that live down the hill,” MacPherson explained. “The [Christian] Athletes Group is similar in that we wanted to meet and many of them are traveling because of practice schedules or games. They can’t make it to the traditional service times so they can’t be part of a church community because of their busy schedules, so Thursday night is often the night with the least amount of games in the Colgate Athletic Calendar.”

MacPherson explained the typical activities of the group during their weekly meetings.

“It’s just a time where students get together, most identify as Christians, but not all, we usually have a guest speaker, it’s often a faculty or staff member that identifies as Christian,” said MacPherson. “We sometimes have local clergy Father Jason of the local Parish, it’s usually a different Christian speaker that comes and gives a brief 20-minute talk.”

MacPherson described how the group has built a community among athletes.

“It’s just a way to support and encourage athletes and give them another opportunity because of their hectic schedules,” MacPherson said. “I think one of the biggest things is it reminds them that they are not alone here at Colgate when it comes to their religious values and the importance that religious life means to them.”

Sophomore and women’s varsity basketball player Sophia Diehl can certainly testify to this. 

“I joined CCA this year and honestly I wish I knew about it sooner. CCA has been a bright spot in my Colgate experience. It is a group of like-minded people that share in their love for God. The CCA community has brought me closer to other athletes I may not have met otherwise. We gather weekly to talk about life, our sports, share our faith journeys and hear from different local pastors and professors that share their journey in their faith. CCA is an amazing group that welcomes all,” Diehl explained.

MacPherson also summarized his overall experience during his oversight of the CCA as well as the current status of the group’s membership.

“It’s just been great to be a part of, anything that can help students that are interested in developing or questioning or wrestling with religious life questions or spiritual questions, we’re happy to be a part of that and enjoy being a part of it,” said MacPherson. “Each year seems to continue to go very well, and [there are] always students that seem to be interested in being a part of it.”

First-year and co-leader Zach Osborne joined the group immediately after arriving at Colgate.

Osborne explained that he discovered the group during his visits to campus in Summer 2021 after meeting with another Colgate football player who was a part of the group. Osborne also met MacPherson through this new student connection.

“Last semester, I reached out to [MacPherson] about the group and he said to come to the first meeting that Thursday night and see how I like it, and I’ve been going ever since,” said Osborne.

Osborne talked about how the group especially supports him as an athlete.

“We all kind of connect on a different level, obviously we all play different sports and we all kind of work through the same schedule on a day-to-day basis; balancing both the academic and athletic life as a Division I athlete,” Osborne said. “I feel like each one of us can talk to each other and be able to get ideas from each other based on how we can balance schedules and deal with adversity that might come along our ways as Division I athletes.”

Osborne explained how being a part of the group has contributed to his faith and building community.

“Growing up, I’ve always had a religious background within my family, being able to come to Colgate now I’ve been able to take my faith and make it my own,” Osborne said. “Still, even though growing up it was my parents and family’s religion I’ve kind of taken it into a part of my own identity.”

Osborne described how his role as a leader contributes to both his athletic and religious experiences at Colgate.

“I love to be a leader in different aspects, obviously with the football team, being a leader not only on the field but off the field,” said Osborne. “I think I partake in this with CCA through being a leader and having people hear my voice and hear what I have to share while also listening to others and providing feedback based on what they’ve learned and what they experience.”

The Colgate Christian Athletes meet weekly on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. in the Chapel Basement and is open to all of the Colgate community.