Prayer in High School Football

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By WSIL Sports

WSIL -- With an amen, John Evetts ends Marion football practice. It's become a daily routine for the Wildcats. Evetts and his teammates say a prayer before and after games and everyday following practice.

"We want it not to be just about winning football games," Evetts said. "We want to help people find the Lord and grow in relationship with Him."

"It's not something that's in their face," Wildcats head coach Kerry Martin said. "It's not something that we're forcing on anybody, it's not something that we're trying to impose on anybody."

Just like Evetts, Martin isn't shy about his faith. In his 10th year as Marion's head coach, Martin says he relies on God everyday at practice, but understands his limitations regarding organized religious activities during school functions.

"There's certain things you can do as a coach and there's certain things you can't do as a coach and I know where the line is," he said. "I think the way you walk everyday is the best witness you can have."

Years ago, Martin used to lead the prayers. Now he lets his players do it.

"It's something they've initiated, something they've wanted to do."

In Carbondale, the Terriers don't incorporate prayer into their routine.

"I kind of let the kids keep family and religion outside of football," Terriers head coach Dan Koester said.

Koester isn't opposed to the idea but leaves it in his players hands.

"If it's something they want to do, I'm fine with that. It's totally up to them."

In the past, Martin says kids have expressed discomfort with the prayers, so he's made accommodations.

"We're respectful to everybody's feelings, we're respectful for their beliefs, whether we agree with them or not," Martin said. "There's a lot of respect for everybody here."

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