Lessons on and off the court: Meet Gonzaga basketball's other coach

SPOKANE, Wash. – It is no surprise that Gonzaga players cheer on their teammates while sitting on the bench. Those who have been to a game might have seen another man sitting with the team, but he is wearing a different uniform.

Father Frank Case has worked at Gonzaga for six years. He has been the chaplain of the men’s basketball team for three. As a Jesuit, the importance of education and expression are fundamental to him and he makes sure that plays a position on the court.

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“Traditionally in Jesuit education, the academics are important, but the full-rounding of education is really important,” said Father Case. “I think it’s just kind of a sign to the student athletes and a sign to public that this is an important part of who Gonzaga is.”

The Gonzaga basketball team is made up of people from different nationalities, different backgrounds and even different religious experiences. Father Case said that has never challenged him to be the team’s chaplain.

“I find it wonderful. I wouldn’t want to be dealing with only Catholics. This is not a seminary. This is a university,” said Father Case.

Father Case is not the only one teaching. He said the players have taught him, as well.

“I really think their ability to work with one another and really develop the deep sense of team and cooperation, and really appreciation for one another, I think that’s a marvelous mark on their part,” said Father Case. “Did you know we have three or four people on the president’s list? Others on the dean’s list? That’s pretty good.”

Father Case will travel with the team to Phoenix for the Final Four. The big game does not make him nervous, though. He said he always prays for the team to play their best basketball and that nobody gets injured.

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The team, including Father Case, head to Phoenix on Wednesday afternoon.