The football team chaplain said he is committed to being a friend to the Horned Frog athletes, a commitment the head coach and players say he more than fulfills.Pastor Ken Horton has been working with the Frogs for 10 seasons, and, during that time, he has become a confidant and mentor to many of the players, head coach Gary Patterson said.
Patterson said the players respect and trust Horton.
“He has always taken the time to be here,” Patterson said. “He’s available for the guys to talk to him and get his advice and guidance.”
Horton volunteers at TCU under the umbrella of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and also serves as senior pastor at McKinney Memorial Bible Church.
Horton said he started working with the team because he enjoys having relationships with the players and coaches and being able to encourage them spiritually.
“When players have needs or concerns, they come talk to me about it just like they would their pastor,” Horton said.
Horton said the relationships developed over the course of the season go far beyond college and sports.
“I enjoy the football part,” Horton said. “But I want to be someone who is interested in how the rest of their life is going.”
Senior safety Eric Buchanan said Horton always reminds them to keep the perspective that what they do is more than football.
“It’s the things you don’t think anyone cares about,” he said. “He’s always interested in talking with us.”
Buchanan said Horton’s open-door policy is proof of his heart for the team.
“If we don’t have anyone else to go to, we all know we can talk to him,” Buchanan said. “He’s a genuine guy, and he’s always here for us.”
Patterson said Horton serves a big purpose at TCU.
“He is helping these students grow in life and become what they want to become,” Patterson said.
Junior safety David Roach said as the son of a preacher, Horton has taken him under his wing.
“You need someone to come around and lift you up when you’re down,” Roach said.
Roach said Horton is loved by the whole team and has helped everyone in a different way.
“When he walks into the room, I get a smile on my face and shake his hand,” he said.
Horton said he enjoys working with college students because college is a pivotal time in life.
“I love helping the guys who are starting to make big decisions in their lives,” Horton said. “I’m just there for them to ask me questions or to pray for them.”
The team is grateful for the support that Horton offers, Buchanan said.
“It’s a blessing to have a man like him praying for you,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan said Horton is someone who he would go to for advice and encouragement outside of football, as well.
“He’s real with me,” Buchanan said. “I know that he means everything he says to me and that it’s coming from his heart.”
Horton said the biggest misunderstanding about college athletes is that they have the same problems and challenges as everyone else.
“They perform in front of thousands of people, and on top of that, they are dealing with the same hard stuff everyone else is,” Horton said. “It’s hard to keep a balance in the midst of that.”
Horton said about 30 to 40 players come to chapel services before the game. The service is opened by a player who leads the group in prayer, and the team is given the chance to share prayer requests.
“I share a verse and give an encouragement to players,” Horton said. “I want them to develop as men, not just football players.”
Horton encourages the team to ask questions about their faith.
“It’s important for someone to be honest about where they are,” Horton said. “I’m OK with a player to not know where he stands, and I welcome any questions they have.”
Roach said Horton has a powerful influence on the team and he helps them get back down to the basics.
“He helps us remember that we have God on our side, no matter what we do,” Roach said. “God’s the reason we got here in the first place.