Seminarians’ player-coach leads by example

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org
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On the field, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary defender Josh Deters specializes in goal prevention. But like the other players in perhaps the most anticipated annual soccer game in St. Louis, his personal goal involves reaching souls.

Hence, the game of the year — the Souls and Goals Soccer Cup: the K-G Lions vs. the Clergy and Company.

In the fifth edition of the match, the seminarians prevailed in shootouts (7-6) on Nov. 9 at CBC High School, their second successive victory and fourth overall in the series. The archdiocesan priests and friends pulled out a win in 2015. This year, the teams played to a 0-0 draw in regulation.

"Everyone kept battling, and it was a lot of fun to play in," Deters said.

Rich Tradition

The K-G Lions regularly practice and play in the Catholic Youth Apostolate's CYC sports adult men's soccer league. The seminary has a rich tradition of soccer excellence. The team was once coached by Bob Guelker, who later formed the men's soccer team at St. Louis University that won the inaugural NCAA Division I championship.

Deters, a player-coach for the seminarians, appreciates the opportunity to play in the annual game.

"I always love playing soccer, to get out and play in front of a bunch of friends and people in the diocese," he said before the match.

He recalled a play toward the end of the game last year when an opponent approached with the ball. They collided — no foul was called — and the seminary team ended up with the ball. The crowd reacted with a loud "ooh."

Deters played select soccer for the Tony Glavin club and in high school for Ft. Zumwalt West. He earlier played soccer with a team from St. Charles Borromeo Parish.

Deters attended Missouri State University and Lindenwood University, from which he earned a degree in economics.

Faith Journey

His calling to pursue a vocation to the priesthood goes back to his faith journey and entering the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville. He decided to attend RCIA classes after attending a Men for Christ conference in 2014 and becoming more interested in his faith. He was baptized and attended Mass every other week with his father but hadn't received First Communion or Confirmation until 2015 after completing RCIA.

Spending time in prayer and getting to know priests "moved me in that direction more and more," he said of the priesthood.

Father Anthony Gerber taught the RCIA class he attended and was a big influence as well as other priests at St. Joseph in Cottleville. Before entering the seminary, he discerned his calling by living half a year at the St. Maximilian Kolbe House, a house of discernment for men considering the priesthood directed by Father Chris Martin, and half a year at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville, experiencing life in a parish setting.

Seminary Life

Deters enjoys philosophy classes and the professors in the pre-theology program at the seminary. What's ahead for him is acceptance into the theology program at the seminary and four years of study plus potentially a pastoral year in a parish.

Away from studies, he enjoys playing ping-pong at the seminary and spending time with the other seminarians. The seminary soccer team has been a good fit as well.

"I'm lucky to be able to continue playing," he said. "I've never gone very long in my life without playing soccer, which is good."

The Lions' game against the priests' team was its last game of the season.

"It's a good way to end the year," Deters said. 

Souls and Goals

In 2013, the first-ever Souls and Goals Soccer Cup was played at St. Dominic High School. The match is held every year during the National Vocation Awareness Week — a weeklong celebration designated by the U.S. bishops' conference to promote vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education. 

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