While a student at Clemson University, Holly C. Short saw the football team chaplain and thought that would be the coolest job ever.
“But then I dismissed the thought of, I’m a woman, so that door will never open for me,” Short says. “It’s like God answered a prayer I didn’t even know I’d prayed.”
Today, Short, an Assemblies of God U.S. Missions military chaplain, is chaplain of the U.S. Navy football team.
Born into a family of huge college football fans, Short grew up in Irmo, South Carolina, watching games with her father. “College football gets in your blood,” she says.
After attending Clemson in South Carolina for two years, Short transferred to the AG’s Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pastoral and youth ministry. She completed her master of divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and joined the Navy as a chaplain.
Assigned to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 2018, two years later Short became the Navy football chaplain when the former chaplain relocated.
“The best part of being chaplain is I’m with my people in their regular day-to-day lives, and often with them on their hardest day,” says Short, a lieutenant. “It’s a huge honor and privilege just to have the opportunity to influence and speak into lives.”
Besides the stress of any Division 1 football team member and college student, Navy recruits also must deal with rigorous naval training. Because she appreciates the challenges team members face, Short says that the five-minute devotions she shares before each game require intensive preparation.
“I want to hear from the Lord something that is going to bring life and truth to them,” says Short. “Not everybody in that room follows Jesus. So navigating beliefs with the truth that the Lord is speaking to my heart is a challenge and unique opportunity.”
Short says that the most difficult aspect of her job is helping the sailors, Marines, and midshipmen after challenging life events happen, especially when a loved one dies.
Midshipman Leonard T. Cummings, 19, suffered the death of his mother the day she dropped him off to report for duty in Annapolis.
“Upon arrival here, my mother was shot and killed by a stray bullet,” says Cummings, who is from Houston. He appreciates the comfort Short has provided.
“She’s been right there by my side every day of this grieving process,” Cummings says. “Whenever I have bad days, I go to her and talk. She’s been the best to me and to the rest of the team.”
Short, who recently received word that she would be promoted to lieutenant commander, says she enjoys the family atmosphere of the football team.
“It took time to build trust, but for them to give me that opportunity and to trust me is an incredible honor,” says Short.
Short, 40, wanted to be a sailor from the time she was 3 years old.
Photo: Chaplain Holly Short (left) has enjoyed opportunities to minister to Leonard Cummings.