June 13, 2008

Co-chaplains for UGA

Chaplain Kevin "Chappy" Hynes has been an integral part of the Georgia football staff since becoming the chaplain for the Bulldogs in May of 2001.

Besides being someone to minister to the team's spiritual needs, Hynes' role as a supportive shoulder for the players is also a facet that's not lost on head coach Mark Richt, who ironically, is Hynes' brother-in-law.

But Hynes' role is about to change. Well, sort of.

Although he'll still minister to players, Hynes, the FCA Campus Director at UGA, will work more with the coaches, both on the football staff and those with other sports. Thomas Settles, who was hired in March of 2007, will assume more of the day-to-day interaction with the players.

"We're co-chaplains. This is what I wanted to do," Hynes said. "This is where my heart is, because I'm getting older and I'm being drawn more to the coach. So, we brought in Thomas to help me with the football team because there are 130 guys on the team.
"Not everyone is going to relate. Though they know I love them, they may not relate, so we brought in Thomas to help with the bulk of the football team while I started to go more toward the campus directory."
Hynes' duties will include a myriad of different activities.

Besides being in charge of the FCA's intern program, he is in charge of the budget, hiring employees and any other job that pertains to the FCA and the numerous athletes on campus that the organization serves.

"The longer I'm here the more job opportunities I've taken on and it's harder to just be with the team 24-7," Hynes said. "That's where Thomas comes in. He's started to take over the day-to-day operations with the team. I'm doing more campus ministry, overview, leadership and I really want to start a coaches ministry, one for all coaches, anybody who wants to be involved. I want to impact all coaches."

Married with two children ages 7 and 4, Hynes describes his job upon accepting his position at Georgia as this: ministry of presence, to be available to each player and coach who wanted a deeper understanding of God, to do bible study and to do devotions.

But that's not all.

"One of our players had a baby that died, I did the funeral. I've married several players. David Pollack, Lee Jackson, Russ Tanner, Will Witherspoon. … there have been some players that I've participated in and officiated their weddings."

Hynes laughs at what it was like for him before he became a chaplain.

His penchant for fast motorcycles and fast living was something Hynes said almost ruined his life, although he felt his past might provide a vehicle with which to minister to Georgia's players.

"I've lived an outlaw lifestyle for a few years. I've gotten multiple tattoos, I've been in trouble before," Hynes said. "I don't know how to measure the impact but I thought when I got here that everybody would want to follow Christ. I thought I could relate to them. Don't get me wrong, I have a great relationship with these coaches and players, but it just hasn't always worked out that way."

Although Richt's faith has been well-documented, Chappy insists that religion is not something that's forced on anybody within the program.

Not that the door isn't always open.

"We're not pushing it (Christianity) down anybody's throat. We're just living our lives for the glory of God. If people want to join in, we're going to open up our arms. If they don't, we're going to love them right where they're at," Hynes said. "It doesn't play a role in their playing time or their position on the team. It's nothing like that."

Hynes said that players of all faiths are welcome at Georgia.

In fact, one of his favorite players was not even of the Christian faith.

"Musa Smith is of the Muslim faith. When he was in surgery (for torn ACL), I was in the hospital room with him. I was just there," Hynes said. "A big part of the ministry is the hospital ministry. All the nurses know me in town. If we have a kid going in to have knee surgery, I get in there and I scrub their knee. If they're having foot surgery, I wash their feet. Ankle, elbow surgery, I prep them. As we're sitting there I'll say 'Son, I love you.' I just try to be there for them."

Hynes recently ministered to fullback Brannan Southerland, who underwent surgery last week to repair a hairline fracture in his foot.

Southerland is expected to miss 16 weeks.
"Brannan's mom, his dad, his brother and his sister were there. I was in there also. I just got a chance to minister to Brannan and his whole family. I've had a great relationship with people's families over the years," Hynes said. "I enjoy that more than anything, being there when they go into surgery, being there when they get hurt on the field, being there to serve them and love them and give them a little bit of strength. They're just kids, man. They're just kids."

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