We Are Marshall–the true story

Busted Halo has the story of Fr. Bob Scott, CSP, chaplain at Marshall University in Huntington, WV, in 1970, when a plane crash took the lives of the university’s entire football team. He was also the team chaplain, and sometimes flew with the team. He didn’t that time.

Of the movie, “We Are Marshall,” he says (with some caveats), “basically, it was a pretty true story of what happened after the crash and then the following year when they were trying to make a recovery with a new team.”

BH: Could you tell us what that day was like for you on campus after the crash occured?

BS: I ministered to Catholic students at Marshall as well as the team. And they had a chapel there which is an all-purpose chapel, an all-faith chapel. I was home, of course, at my place and then the news came out about the crash which just devastated the town. And that night—of course the chapel is right next door to where I had lived—kids were in the chapel all night long and I was with them. It was just a terrible experience for their girlfriends or roommates that had been with them in the dormitory the day before they left. A number of the coaches were Catholic and it was such an experience to deal with their wives and children. And throughout Huntington that next week—well, longer than that—all of the memorial services and all of the funerals. These people just went through devastation. …

BH: What effect did this incredibly challenging time have on your priesthood?

BS: I started in campus ministry at the rival school which was West Virginia University. I was there for 10 years and that is where I became what you might say a ‘Jock Priest.’ And that is where I started to travel with the team. And of course they were much more big time than Marshall was at that time. And so I got into the sports scene at that time and that changed my ministry in the sense that it really brought me closer to the things that obviously the students were involved in—even though it may not be too spiritual or too academic [laughs]. I like this little prayer that I read at the memorial service of the deceased head coach who was killed. I think that sports have been such an important thing in my priesthood and that’s why this prayer, which I entitled Thank God for Sports, is so important. Because I relate [sports] to everyday life—the successes, the failures, the wins and the losses and the humanity and the humility that has to go with losing in sports is part of life.