The Metro Scene

Chette Williams: Faith, Family, Football

Chette Williams

Faith, Family, Football –

This day and time when you hear of someone who has achieved a milestone of being in the same leadership position working with college athletes for 20 years, you marvel. It just doesn’t happen anymore. Coaches come and go, athletic directors come and go and players come and go. And yet, at Auburn University there remains someone who has achieved this milestone working and helping to develop the boy athletes who come into the program and leave strong men who stand steady for the future. This someone is Chette Williams.

By Lynn Cox
Photos by Todd Van Enst Auburn Athletics Photographer

Chette Williams, campus director and football team chaplain at Auburn University Fellowship of Christian Athletes, is celebrating his 20th year.  He has had a profound influence among players and coaches alike — players like Jason Campbell, Ronnie Brown, Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, Aundray Bruce and many more, and coaches Tommy Tuberville, former Auburn coach who hired Chette as the team chaplain in 1999, Gene Chizik, whose relationship with Chette began when he was hired as the defensive coordinator and now head Coach Gus Malzahn, who has continued the program with the football team in spite of groups that would like to see it go away.

Chette has been right where he needed to be to help these men in times that were good and in times that were bad. He shared recently at the FCA Fellowship Annual Banquet, “For 20 years I have tasted and seen that God is good in the good and in the bad. It’s been 20 years and I don’t know how many more we got, but this past 20 years has been amazing.”

Tuberville hired Chette when he took over as head coach at Auburn University. He had experience with having a team chaplain at Ole Miss and knew the benefit to the players and the coaches of having someone there that had played football and understood what student athletes go through. So, after finding out that his team chaplain at Ole Miss could not come with him, he started looking for someone that could fit the requirements. Someone told him about this guy in Atlanta who had played at Auburn and had given his life to the Lord at Auburn. It was Chette. Tuberville recently said, “God blessed us with Chette and, wow, what he has done!”

Ronnie Brown shared his feelings about Chette at the FCA banquet “because Bro. Chette is transparent.” And asked the question of Tuberville, “Why was it critical to have someone like Chette?” Tuberville responded, “Because you need a positive influence in football.”

After hiring Chette, Tuberville set aside 30 minutes on Friday nights before the games to allow players who wanted to participate in a faith-based meeting to get to know each other. Chette had convinced him that players needed to know each other in order to play better as a team. When the defense is just focusing on their jobs and the offense on their jobs, you can miss the interaction needed to play together for the same purpose. And, at these meetings guys were getting open with what was going on in their families that might be affecting them. “Guys would share things going on in their life.  And, I learned a lot about my team members through having these meetings,” Tuberville said. “Chette would start the meetings, but the guys would take over.”

Chizik shared the praises for Chette at the FCA banquet. He talked about when he and Chette began their relationship in 2002. He said he cherished the times when Chette would come to his hotel room on nights before the game when he was nervous and they would pray together. “I cherish all these times together, the good and the bad.” Then in 2010 when Chizik returned as head coach, the two became very close, having Bible studies together. Chette shared, “I work not just with the players, I also minister to the coaches. We go through so much together. We go through life. I have babysat Gene’s kids and he has babysat mine, when they were young.”

And, yes, he is there for the coaches’ families when they go through the good times and the bad. He said, “I have officiated weddings for them, funerals, I have performed baby dedications and even home dedications. I stand with these guys and not just them, but with others in the Auburn family, like the Rod Bramblett family and their needs.”

Chette has been mission minded and taught players the benefit of helping others. He and  Malzahn have provided ways for players to be more conscious of others’ needs by taking those who wanted to go to minister to the needs of children in the Dominican Republic.  In 2010, Cam Newton and a group went to build a church in the village they visited. Daniel Thomas shared his experience on his second trip to the Dominican Republic at the FCA banquet, “It was such a humbling experience for me, I hate we had to go all the way there to understand how to be thankful for all that we have…I thank God for humbling me.”

Malzahn likes taking the players who wish to go. He said, “The walls come down, the cells phones up for awhile, and you get to communicate. You don’t have all that extra stuff that we deal with every day. It gives you a chance to share with each other.”

So many people have shared how blessed they are by Chette Williams’ extraordinary ministry. His experiences from his childhood and youth have helped to shape his gifts to touch people in an authentic way. When this writer interviewed Chette, he talked about how he feels about his job and ministry. “I look at my job as I am a pastor to these teams, coaches, and players. I have to be transparent and real with them, so that I can be effective. If I tried to protect myself because some are only here for a short time or even if they are here for the long haul, I have to go all in.  It’s like pastoring a church.”

Chette is a humble man and will tell you it is not about him, but it is about God. “He [God] gets all the Glory,”

After graduating from Auburn University, Chette attended the New Orleans Theological Seminary. Upon graduation, he started with ministries and churches in New Orleans and then was called to Spartanburg, South Carolina, for an urban ministries program. Chette thinks back and said, “I had no idea that when I started with the churches and ministries in New Orleans and then in Spartanburg what God was preparing me for when bringing me to Auburn.”

When asked about looking ahead, Chette falls back on what Coach Pat Dye told him a long time ago right after Kyle Collins, the FCA guy lead him to the Lord. It is his life quote: “One day at a time.”

“At the end of the day, God’s got my back,” Chette said. “This is huge for me. So, I know no matter what, I can depend on him like the verses of Proverbs 3:5-6 read, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

                                                   

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