Before I hung up the phone with former Thunder player Kevin Ollie on Saturday afternoon there was one thing I needed to make sure I told him.
Eighty percent of the team’s roster still goes to chapel.
“That’s awesome,” Ollie said from the other end of the phone.
Ollie, as I wrote in Sunday’s paper, is one of the distinguished alumni of “Thunder U.” His contributions have endured long after his tenure with the Thunder ended. The team’s nightly pre-game chapel visit is one of them. Ollie was the man who started that tradition.
He couldn’t have been happier to hear it has carried on.
“That was a big thing, too,” Ollie said. “I mean, I’ve never seen that throughout my whole playing career. One chapel we had everybody in there. I’ve never seen that in my life. And to go and have 80 percent go on the road, that’s a big thing, the spirituality. Just understanding everything comes from God, that’s a great thing. Hopefully they continue that.”
Ollie went on to explain exactly why he pioneered that pre-game ritual.
“I just wanted to be a light and let them know that it is chapel and just to have that 15 minutes,” Ollie said. “I’m not going to go around preaching to everybody, but it reminds you that you do have to sacrifice things and we got to sacrifice things for each other because God sacrifices for us each and every day. And for them to just think about that for 15 minutes it might set a seed in their head that they think about when you want to have those selfish tendencies to go away from your team and look the other way. But you also bring that together once you’re in the presence of Him and understanding that it’s sacrifices about this and we’ve got to lean on each other because we’re all brothers and iron sharpens iron. And I think they’re sharpening each other up and you can just see it throughout the team. It’s definitely evident that they love one another, they play for one another and they believe in one another. The team that prays together stays together. I truly believe that.”