“Can I be authentic with these players. Can I really let them know who I am? Or will it scare them away?”
However, Gutelius said that he was convicted about the priority of his faith. “If I hide that,” he said, “I’m doing a disservice to me, to the team, and to God.”
In addition to instructing his players on the virtues, he began a team Bible study and rosary before game days.
“Late into my first year there, I kind of really shared that I was Catholic. I think it was a Friday after a win, and I said ‘hey let’s pray a rosary this Friday.’ I said that and thought ‘Oh my gosh I sound like the crazy Catholic guy.’ But eight guys came. I mean how many college students do you know who want to go pray the rosary with their Catholic coach on a Friday night before a game?”
2021 team captain Brendan Webster said Gutelius has affected his faith tremendously over his past four years: “Starting from the first Mass I went to during my freshman year camp, to Bible study he led for players, to simply praying after each and every practice, he has shown me how to live life as a Catholic man who truly loves Jesus. He has influenced my faith life more than he probably even knows.”
“During the COVID-19 pandemic he has been the rock for our team and has had the strength to confront uncertainty with grace, and that truly seeped its way into every player and coach on our team,” Webster said.
CUA’s Athletic Director Dr. Sean Sullivan said that faith and character are central tenants in Gutelius’ life.
“In any sports related profession, so much of the message often comes in the form of what is said when instructing others,” Sullivan said. “Coach Gutelius goes beyond that; purposefully living a life of high character and thoughtful maturity himself while also expecting it from those he coaches.”
“It can be difficult for any developing student-athlete to recognize the critical nature of making the right decisions off the field when so much of their focus relates to how to excel on it,” Sullivan said. “However, Coach Gutelius consistently reinforces to his players how they must think beyond the immediate, the here-and-now, to position themselves through sound decision-making which will enable them to lead a life of virtue and of consequence.”
“I’m proud of the football program Coach Gutelius continues to build at Catholic University,” Catholic University President John Garvey told CNA. “He requires his players to be not only excellent football players, but also excellent people. That is what makes him and his program so essential to this university.”
Joseph Bukuras is a journalist at the Catholic News Agency. Joe has prior experience working in state and federal government, in non-profits, and Catholic education. He has contributed to an array of publications and his reporting has been cited by leading news sources, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Catholic University of America. He is based out of the Boston area.