WICHITA, Kan. Kapaun's Gabriel Greer is a man with many titles. Most know him as Father Gabe, the Associate Chaplain for the high school, but those around the football program know him as coach.
Father Greer is the official football chaplain to the Kapaun Mt. Carmel Crusader team. Fr. Greer is a swiss army knife on the sidelines. He leads players in prayer before and after practices and games, assists in drills, and organizes the Hudl equipment on game day.
Kapaun head coach Dan Adelhardt knew Fr. Greer from Church of the Magdalen, prior to his job at the school.
"I said father, you're welcome anytime you want to come to football practice. Well, low and behold, he didn't show up one night, he shows up another night, and he shows up in shorts," he said in between laughter.
He's a football guy at heart.
"It all comes back to what St. John Bosco said, which was 'love what the youth love, and in return, they will love what the priests love.'"
And what he loves are two things: Christ and football. He's at the right place, and the Crusader team accepts him wholeheartedly.
Senior tight end Jacob Schmitz also knew Fr. Greer from Church of the Magdalen. He said it's a bit unorthodox (pardon the pun) to have a priest as an assistant coach, but the team truly needs him.
"It's a little different than people usually think but we love it and we love to see him out here," he said. "We like to know that he's supporting us. We like to know that he's there to talk to us and he likes us all and wants to be out here."
But for someone who teaches to 'love thy neighbor,' how does he champion such a violent sport?
"Things Coach Adelhardt says are 'football is war.' Team sports in general, they teach so much of what it means to be a human being, to have discipline, to be able to work with other people," he said.
Adelhardt said it's a violent sport, yes, but it's a structured, organized type of violence that teaches young men about life.
"Football is for the strong at heart and for the physically strong, and that's what it takes to go through life," he said.
In this type of war zone, sometimes foul words fly, but do the players hold back around a man of the cloth?
"Simple answer is no," Fr. Greer laughed. "They're still out there, but they know that if I hear it, I'll make them run."
"Listen, we preach that we don't like foul language anyway. We always said we want our priests to be proud of us."
They have a right to be proud. Adelhardt preached the importance of molding young men in the football program, and said there's no better role model than Father Gabe Greer.