The game of professional football has changed dramatically in the past couple of decades, including the introduction of off field coaching on the mental, and in some cases spiritual, aspects of the game.
Jared LaCoste is in his 7th year as chaplain of the green-and-white, providing services to players and coaches as required. He’s not actually a paid employee of the team, as he works for an organization called Athletes in Action, that provides chaplaincy services to sports teams across the country.
“Globally, we have Athletes in Action representation in over 60 countries,” LaCoste explains. “That allows us to use sport as a platform to impact people’s lives.”
LaCoste majored in Christian Ministry during his studies at Briercrest College and Seminary. He grew up in Estevan, but he and his wife Courtney and their three children now call Regina home.
The funding model for his position is unique. The majority of his wage comes from his own fundraising efforts. The funds raised also support learning and counselling materials for Rider players and coaches.
“Each year we try to hold some sort of fundraiser to help with the costs,” LaCoste says. “It’s a bit of a struggle, but it’s worth it when we talk about transforming people’s lives and hearts, by allowing me to be here full-time, supporting members of the team.”
LaCoste is happy to be able to provide support in person this year, as opposed to operating virtually during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“There was a lot of staring at screens,” he states. “It was a challenging time for a lot of athletes, who had to figure out who they were when they didn’t have football practices and games to prepare for. Thankfully, technology allowed me to stay connected and remain a part of people’s lives. But it’s much better when we can talk face-to-face or stand shoulder-to-shoulder.”
LaCoste is one of a network of chaplains aligned with each CFL team, so he often ends up providing services for visiting teams. He issues an open invitation for anyone who wants to attend a quick 15-minute chapel service on game days, held 2.5 hours before kickoff at Mosaic Stadium.
For anyone interested in supporting Jared’s work with the Riders, click here to visit his fundraising site.