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Rodríguez Ends Time with Heartfelt Letter

May 31, 2021

Chaplain Rubèn Rodríguez, the volunteer serving with me and with Colorado Rapids, closes this chapter with a heartfelt letter signaling his stepping away. Rubèn came to work with me after stepping in for a Rapids Development Academy Life Skills training night. I remember watching as he commanded the attention of the young boys that were gathered and we talked through a difficult issue of discrimination and some of the impacts on the game. Not long after, he agreed to come on board as chaplain for the DA and when Gerardo Alvarez, my assistant at the time, moved on, he helped me with first team duties as well.

Nicknamed the “preachers” by stadium security, me (left), Rubèn (middle) and Gerardo (right) get ready to lead a life skills session for the Rapids DA.

I asked Ruben to share a little bit about his time working with me, Soccer Chaplains United, and the Colorado Rapids. He shared a warm and heartfelt letter,

I am preparing to step out of my role with Soccer Chaplains United, serving the Colorado Rapids here in Denver. 

In my time with SCU, I have felt proud to serve alongside Brad Kenney, and many of the SCU and Rapids’ staff.  But the brightest and fondest memories of which I feel most proud, are the moments I got to spend alongside players from the Rapids Development Academy and First Team.  

Whether it was meeting a player to talk through their personal and professional issues on and off the pitch, or just finding the time for a quick prayer before a game or important conversation, these small intermissions between games, practices, and daily life are the moments I will miss most.  These fractional interruptions between and before whistles were where I often found the most joy and peace, and where true relationships seemed to form.  

One of my very favorite memories came after the SCU staff had conducted a life-skills session at the stadium one evening.  The players all rose, bound for the parking lot, but they took the time to line up and shake our hands before they left.  A simple formality, yes.  And anyone familiar with the sport will recognize its ritual as one that is often practiced between players on opposing teams before matches.  

And yet this ritual is the crux of the memory: the shaking of hands is a show of respect, but even more so, of solidarity.  It is an acknowledgement of same-ness, of respect for the mutual drive of sport and competition and passion for something much loved. 

With this simple gesture, those young men helped form a bond between us that said, “You are like us, and we are like you.”  And this solidarity was the basis for all conversation and relationship to come – it was the moment that made all others possible.

I am a writer by trade, and the demands on my time as both a commercial and creative writer have become such that it is no longer fair for me to split my time between SCU and my work.  I am looking forward to spending more time on my craft and to creating better pieces for others to read and enjoy. 

But I will deeply miss the SCU and Rapids families, and all the little moments that came with them.  Though I will be stepping out of my position as chaplain, you’ll be sure to find me on some scorching afternoon or chilly October night, standing in the seats, watching the boys in burgundy play the beautiful game.  

I hope to see you there.

Cheers.  

I am sad to see Rubèn move on. I had shared with him that my hope would be that he might one day replace me as the lead person providing chaplaincy to the Rapids, but I am really hopeful that God’s call on Rubèn’s life for writing becomes a place of flourishing for he, Kayla, and his daughters.

I told Rubèn my favorite memory will forever be the “Rapids Faith Day Game” that never was — I will never forget I was out of town on business trip to visit one of our other chaplains and he called asking me where the Faith Night event setup was because he hadn’t been able to find anyone. Unbeknownst to me, the Rapids had canceled it last minute. Rubèn had wandered around the stadium for at least a good 30 minutes asking people about it before he called me. 😂😂

Rubèn, God bless you in your next endeavors and thanks for being part of the work and ministry these past few years.

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