He’s Got Spirit. (Really.)

March 4, 2012   ·   3 Comments

Photo Credit: Jake McLernon

by Cody Norman

Pacing back and forth atop the bleachers in the old Physical Education building, Peter Nassetta was the original “Super Fan” of Mason basketball.

“I was the Patriot Platoon,” Nassetta said. “I was your fan. Screaming, yelling, taunting the other team and yelling at the referees. I did all of that.”

Nassetta, now the Catholic chaplain of the campus ministry, graduated in 1982 with a major in business management from a small commuter school in Fairfax where the student apartments were the only residence hall available to students. He was deeply involved in politics but, after a personal experience during his senior year, Nassetta was encouraged to reevaluate his priorities.

“I had to reevaluate things,” Nassetta said. “My faith, then, became the center of my life.”

After getting involved with the Youth Apostles, a group that is called to reach out to every young person and make efforts to invite them to a life of truth, freedom, and care, Nassetta began feeling that the Lord was guiding him into the chapel.

“When you start thinking that maybe you’re supposed to be a priest, you start thinking, ‘I think you’re confused God. You’ve got the wrong guy,’” Nassetta said. “But God is persistent and He is patient. Eventually, it became really clear.”

During his five years in Catholic parishes, Nassetta found it difficult to follow Mason basketball. Because the Washington Post would not cover the team and the Internet was not in full force, he was forced to get a majority of his information from an athletic trainer at Old Dominion University.

Shortly after his departure from the parishes, Nassetta was appointed the chaplain of Marymount University in Arlington. And six short years later, Nassetta was allowed the opportunity to join his alma mater and serve as the Catholic chaplain for the university.

“To be able to return to our alma mater – even though it’s barely recognizable – is just a blessing,” Nassetta said.

Since returning to Mason in 2000, Nassetta has become deeply involved in athletics and is a regular attendee at most events. And, following his lead, his students have began to have a significance presence at sporting events – especially at basketball games.

He encourages students within the Catholic Campus Ministry, the campus parish, to get involved within campus life and live in the world.

“I’m not trying to create a Catholic ghetto,” Nassetta said. “We just try to provide people with opportunities to show their faith while giving them a place where they can grow in their faith.”

Since the arrival of Doc Nix after the 2006 season, Nassetta began dressing up and emulating the attire of the program’s unique band director, even purchasing a pair of large gold glasses that, he says, are “Doc Nix approved.”

“As much as you try, you can never really be Doc Nix though,” he said. “He is one of a kind.”

Like he has done for several years, with less than eight minutes remaining in last night’s victory, Nassetta jumped out of his seat. He turned to face the wave of green and gold behind him and riled the crowd as Doc Nix and the Green Machine belted their staple rendition of Livin’ on a Prayer.

“Not only is it our theme song as a university, but it obviously ties in to campus ministry,” Nassetta said. “We’re always living on a prayer.”

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Readers Comments (3)

  1. Leo

    Thank God for the Tea Party. We must never let down our guard. This gov. thinks we the peolpe are embecils, the great unwashed. But we don’t need their nannying. We have a very effective system. We will fire those representatives who insist they know what is best for America and ignore the will of the peolpe.Pray for our country and stand strong.

    Reply »
    • Jaya

      Your mom really likes this entry and is now cnavirg pickles! Actually still cnavirg artichokes from Roma And I have some in my suitcase hmmmm artichokes, not pickles

      Reply »
      • Fly

        – I love that this has started such hteead discussions on so many different sites and blogs. And I’ve really enjoyed reading some of the big blogs respond (especially SMP, which surprised me) but I do think it’s a shame that some of the responses seemed to go in fighting the second they read the words mason jar I think they really passed by a prime opportunity to open an important dialogue.

        Reply »

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