Letter to the editor: Athletics do care about Catholic Identity

After visiting with Reiley Bartel, author of the March 9 Opinion piece in the Vantage, I have a
greater understanding of her concerns to inform my response to her article. We both agree that
the headline was too general and gave a false impression that athletics and athletes do not honor
Newman’s Catholic identity. Newman athletics DOES take Catholic identity seriously.
In every aspect of life on campus, we continue to strive to become better in order to facilitate
students becoming the persons God created them to be. Growing into college life includes new
adjustments and new opportunities for leadership. Obviously Reiley is a woman of conviction
and this is good. She also is growing in understanding of the need to appropriately make requests
and needs known to coaches and the Director of Athletics.
All students recruited by our coaches understand they are coming to a Catholic university with
core values and a Newman Code. Most of our athletic teams pray together before practices and
games and some also pray at their conclusion. Some coaches offer spiritual reflections before
practice. Every team has a spiritual companion. Reiley understands that her desire for other
expressions of group prayer can be organized by her and that players should have the freedom to
participate or not. Coaches respect and try to accommodate students who make a request to
attend Mass but calling an Uber is not as easy a response as it might seem. If a coach does not
accompany the student(s) and something untoward happens, the head coach and Newman could
be in legal difficulty.
Newman is not afraid to claim and live its Catholic Identity and it does so every day in many
ways, including athletics. I close referring to some phrases from our explanation of our core
value of Catholic Identity, “Newman draws nourishment from its relationships with surrounding
Catholic communities and dioceses…With a strong liberal arts foundation, our curriculum
honors the richness and vitality of our Catholic intellectual heritage while affirming the value of
dialogue involving persons of various cultures and religious traditions.”

Sister Therese Wetta, ASC

Director of Mission Effectiveness

PHOTO: Courtsey Photo, Unslpash