The Catholic University of America (CUA) and the Washington Nationals, the District of Columbia’s MLB team, shared a night of co-sponsored baseball fun on September 19, 2023. The team hosted hundreds of spectators from the pontifical institution to watch the game before sending one of their Catholic players to the school’s campus for a talk about sports and faith.
According to a report from the university’s website, the game night was a great success that celebrated the presence of CUA in the nation’s capital since 1887. The team reserved hundreds of seats for students, faculty, and staff, who were recognized by their Nationals-Catholic University co-branded quarter-zip pullover that was handed out at the game.
Newly appointed President Peter K. Kilpatrick was even invited onto the field prior to the national anthem to meet members of the ROTC who served as color guard. Also featured in the pre-game festivities was a meeting between mascots: the University’s mascot, Red, and the Nationals’ mascot, Screech.
The game went just as fans would want for such a special occasion, with the Nationals beating the White Sox thanks to a three-run homer from a pinch-hitter right after the seventh-inning stretch.
The following day, CUA was visited by Trevor Williams, one of the Nationals’ starting pitchers, who was joined by Kevin Robinson Jr., the school’s athletic director, and University Chaplain Father Aquinas Guilbeau. Williams spoke to the school about his experiences keeping his Catholic faith during the long and demanding baseball season.
He acknowledged that it’s hard to balance family life with a 162-game season each year, noting that often times the best he can do is remind himself that “the sun will come up tomorrow.” His faith, however, is what he leans on when his cross-country travels take him too far from home.
The major leaguer said he asks for help from Sts. Joseph and Benedict to keep himself humble and focused on his family while he is away. He explained to the assembled students and staff that prayer is a central aspect of his family time:
“At home, we do our best to pray together as a family,” Williams said.
He admitted that it can be hard to maintain a prayer schedule while away from his normal daily routine, but setting alarms on his phone helps him to remember to make time to pray. Williams also explained that it helps to have other teammates who place a high importance on their Christian or Catholic faith, of which he said there were many “across the professional sports landscape.” He said that these players are easy to notice:
“You can see, with highly driven people, there’s a correlation with a faith life because they know this game doesn’t matter,” Williams said.
Connecting with CUA’s student athletes, Williams recalled his years playing baseball for college as some of the most stressful in his life. He encouraged the students to take care in how they prioritize their time, suggesting that managing one’s time and activities is of paramount importance to ensure that one can achieve their goals without losing themselves:
“Being a student-athlete was probably the most stressful time of my life,” Williams admitted. “You have to prioritize. You’re here to grow in your faith, grow in your life as a student, and grow in the sport. If you’re going to mess up that order, you will see the ramifications.”