When Sister Lisa Maurer left her job as a teacher and coach to become a nun, she was worried about missing the interaction with students.
The ability to connect on a close level with athletes, and to nurture their growth as people, was her greatest joy in her first career. It was almost enough to dissuade her from entering a convent.
Little did Maurer know where she would end up: Coaching the kickers at a Division III football program and being the subject of a profile in The New York Times.
Maurer's path to her unprecedented spot had little to do with her coaching aspirations. Yes, she is the daughter of a coach, and yes, she enjoyed interacting with athletes.
But Maurer's room at the convent, which overlooks the football field at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota, gave her a sense of closeness with the team. The founding coach of the football program, Greg Carlson, got to know Maurer and asked her to lead prayers for the team.
When Carlson was replaced by Kurt Ramler, the new head coach asked Maurer to dinner and became fond of the nun who could talk sports as well as anyone. Maurer was spending so much time around the team that Ramler eventually asked her if she wanted to be the team's kicking coach.
Maurer leapt at the opportunity, and the end result is a win on all sides. Maurer loves being on the staff, and her contributions haven't hurt the Saints, who went 10-0 in the regular season before losing to perennial power St. John's of Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.
"They’re good kids. They’re awesome,” she said to The New York Times. “It just adds another layer of living our mission and living our values. It brings it full circle. I find it an honor that I get to do this, that I get to represent my religious community in this way.”
And her players have no problem whatsoever taking orders from a nun. To them, she's a natural.
"A lot of people who aren’t around the program say, 'How is a nun coaching you?'" said senior kicker Mike Theismann. "She fits in seamlessly. It’s not a big deal, for the players or the coaches."
But for Maurer, it's a huge deal.
"I get to coach and be a sister both,” she said. “I remember all the tears that I cried when I entered religious life because I never thought I’d get to do this. The Lord is so good to me."