Faith, growth and hoops; Pastor Wible’s journey with Baylor basketball

Baylor men's basketball chaplain Mark Wible has been with the team since Scott Drew took over as head coach. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By AnnaGrace Hale | Sports Writer

Finagling his way into the position as volunteer chaplain for the Baylor men’s basketball team, pastor Mark Wible has worked with the program since head coach Scott Drew took the helm. Home games are his opportunity to minister to the squad, and his position has allowed him to not only build relationships with the players and coaches, but also provide support in areas other than basketball.

“I have the opportunity to be an interested, but detached person,” Wible said. “It’s someone who [the players] know is interested in them, but also I’m not at coaches meetings. So, if there’s anything going on, they know they’ve got somebody with the program.”

Although his full-time job is associate pastor at Highland Baptist Church in Waco, Wible has always had a heart for basketball. Being a longtime Baylor fan, and coaching one year for the program, Wible happily took on the role of home game chaplain.

He received a call from his friend Bryon Weathersbee, who was applying to be Baylor’s university chaplain at the time, who had a vision of adding volunteer sports chaplains to every sports team. However, later in the process, Weathersbee was unsure if he would receive the position, so he told Wible that the new coach, Drew “doesn’t know any different, so just show up tomorrow and introduce yourself as the chaplain and see what happens.”

Wible did just that.

“So, Scott’s first day on the job, I walk into his office and knock on his door and say, ‘Hey, Scott. I’m Mark Wible and I’m the chaplain of the Baylor men’s basketball team.’ And Scott goes, ‘Great. Come on in,’” Wible said. “So [I’ve] been with him since the start.”

Wible has not only built a strong relationship with Drew over the last decade, but also created connections with the players on a deeper level.

“What makes [Wible] special is the spiritual connection and the relationship he is able to have with our guys,” Drew said. “Does not matter if they play, don’t play, score, don’t score — it’s all about trying to improve them spiritually and grow them spiritually … and what to do to be the best husband, father, man that they can be.”

As the home game day chaplain, Wible brings a 15-minute message to the team before each game in the Ferrell Center. Each season has a different focus and builds off the theme of the last season. The 2021-2022 season was “hand me another brick.” After bringing the national championship back to Waco in 2021, the team focused on the opportunity to continue to build the program in basketball and faith.

“I would go through a different character trait, so the brick of unexpected, and I just said you have to be ready to deal with the brick of unexpected,” Wible said. “There’s going to be unexpected things that happen on the court. There’s going to be unexpected things that happen in life. How do you build the character of Christ into your life with unexpected things?”

The goal is to develop the athlete as not only a basketball player, but also as a person.

“Pastor Wible has such a great, gentle spirit and way about him,” Drew said. “Players really feel comfortable sharing with him and that allows the relationship to grow and have such an impact on their lives.”