On Friday, August 20, The Ohio State University football team spent the entire day in a retreat and practice session at the Legacy Center in Xenia, Ohio, home of Athletes in Action. The day featured two practice sessions by the 2009 Rose Bowl and recent five-time defending Big Ten champion Ohio State Buckeyes. The morning started out with a light practice session, and continued, after lunch, with a full inter-squad scrimmage. The practices were closed per NCAA regulations.
The Buckeyes are ranked #2 in some 2010 pre-season forecasts. The team has nine returning starters, and the expectations are high for the first preseason game on September 2 against Marshall University.
The team had access to the 253-acre Legacy Center, and they used the four dormitories, the conference and retreat center along with the state-of-the-art sports complex with its high-quality synthetic turf.
Athletes in Action staff member Jim Schmidtke reported that the OSU coaching staff were extremely impressed with AIA personnel and the facilities. One of the OSU coordinators said to Schmidtke, “Your people were fantastic. Being in a place with such a meaningful history gave the young men a sense of destiny.”
Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel is a strong supporter of AIA, and he will be starting his 10th season at Ohio State after several successful seasons as head coach at Youngstown State.
Schmidtke first met Tressel when he was a quarterback coach at OSU in the early 1980’s. “He is really the same guy now. I remember telling my wife then that he was one of the best coaches I have ever met. Last night Coach Tressel was talking to the players about this facility, and the players were hanging on his every word,” Schmidtke said.
Mark Householder, president of Athletes in Action, added, “Hosting part of the OSU football camp was a dream come true for AIA. It legitimizes our sports complex and the dedicated staff who know how to serve and care for athletes and teams. We hope this is the beginning of a long-term relationship with Ohio State football.”
Athletes in Action has partnered with Sports Spectrum, a premier Christian sports magazine published quarterly, to produce the Athletes in Action magazine. Each edition of Sports Spectrum will include the AIA magazine as an eight-page section devoted to stories from the playing fields of sport ministry.
Here is what a subscription provides:
· The Athletes in Action Magazine: the latest stories from the playing fields of sports ministry
· Sports Spectrum Magazine
· “Training Table” - a devotional booklet with each issue
Subscribe to Sports Spectrum which includes the AIA Magazine and you will get AIA's discounted price of $25. Enter the code: "AIA" when ordering at www.sportsspectrum.com.
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The Athletes in Action Sports Complex will be closed to the public and media this Friday, August 20, due to The Ohio State University football team practicing at the facility. Here is what the Buckeyes athletics office is communicating about the Friday practice:
Friday, August 20th 2010, there will be no media access to practice. Because the Buckeyes are practicing off-campus on Friday, we are required by NCAA rules (Bylaw 126.96.36.199.2) to prohibit any practice visitors, including media. Additionally, we are not permitted to announce the location or publicize the practice in any way. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.
Courtesy: UCSD Release: 07/20/10
Courtesy: UCSD Calvin Ross, standing at 6-foot-8, is a senior on the UC San Diego men's volleyball team.
By Ivan Alber UCSDTritons.com What decibel level fits your summer? Sipping iced tea in a hammock with birds chirping overhead? That's about a 40. Building sandcastles, flying a kite and taking road trips? You're on cruise control at a 70. Meanwhile, Calvin Ross' 2010 "vacation" is cranking at a 110. Think Brazilian samba in your kitchen. Although his UC San Diego coach describes the 6-foot-8 rising senior as quiet and unassuming, Ross' summer has been just the opposite. From bump, set and spike competitions in South America to helping construct the "Hospital of the Future" in Escondido, Ross has found meaning in every summer minute. Once the spring quarter concluded on June 11, Ross joined his Athletes in Action offseason team for a few days of practice at the organization's headquarters in Ohio. After a long plane ride south, the two-week journey in Brazil began. Despite earning the reputation of a global powerhouse in soccer, Brazil is actually a regular champion in volleyball during the Olympics. During the two-week span, Ross and his Athletes in Action teammates played against four different opponents: the junior national team, the military team and two lower-level professional teams. "We ended up losing all four matches," says Ross. "The competition down in Brazil was the best I've ever faced. Being a different country, the style is a little different. It was great experience for me and the players on the team to watch the other teams and learn from their technique and strategy. Along the way, I was able to develop friendships with my teammates and our opponents." Ross' team included collegiate players from Cal Baptist, Ball State and Ohio State. One of his teammates was Brad Lawson, a member of the national champion Stanford squad that UCSD played twice in 2010. The trip wouldn't have been complete without soccer though and luck would have it that the World Cup in South Africa happened to be in full swing while Athletes in Action made their volleyball tour. "We got to see how the entire country of Brazil shut down on days where their team played," says Ross. "We were on the beach during one game and we'd hear cheering and fireworks for each goal. There was a crowd surrounding every public TV."
Upon his return to the United States, Ross experienced some rare downtime around the July 4 holiday. A few days later, he became a DPR Construction intern for a project that hits close to home. The Carlsbad, Calif., native and Santa Fe Christian High School graduate is helping with the construction of the Palomar Medical Center West project in Escondido. Deemed "The Hospital of the Future," the facility is situated on 40 acres and is designed to accommodate 360 patient beds, 12 operating rooms and a trauma center, with an overall construction budget in excess of $550 million. "Each day, I'm on the site in a mobile office," says Ross. "We are constantly looking at project maps and coordinating with different subcontractors, whether it's the suppliers of air conditioning, plumbing or fire extinguishers. The utilities might not be set up in the right way and we're always fixing problems and making changes as the project moves along." Although the internship strays somewhat from Ross has been studying in school with his Mechanical Engineering major, he knows that UCSD has left him well prepared. As the hectic summer schedule rolls along for Ross, volleyball will never leave his agenda. Entering his senior year, he and his teammates have big plans for the Tritons in the 2011 season. "Playoffs is still our goal and I definitely want that to happen in my last year," says Ross. "We've accomplished a lot of firsts for the program already and we just have to keep taking steps forward." While attending Santa Fe Christian in Solana Beach, Ross got a late jump on the sport of volleyball. He spent his earlier days as a lanky goalkeeper on the water polo team. Once he got going though, there was no turning back. "He's always put in the time and the work to become a better player," says Kevin Ring, head coach of the Tritons. "The best example of that was the summer before his freshman year. He put in the hours with our strength and conditioning coach, working out three days a week consistently, and you could see the results when fall practice started." Classes return in late September and with graduation ahead in June 2011, his classmates will grow wary of the real world that lurks. The 2010 summer that Ross split between South America and North County is shaping his mindset as a student-athlete and member of the UCSD community. He knows that the values and experiences picked up along the way will prove to be priceless once he's deemed a Triton grad. "I landed from my trip to Brazil on a Wednesday and I started my internship the next Tuesday," says Ross. "They are two totally different experiences and it was a quick transition. But that's what life is all about - transition. I feel that this is good practice."
To read this article and more, go to: http://www.ucsdtritons.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_LANG=C&DB_OEM_ID=5800&ATCLID=204969388.
Playing basketball was once an unimaginable fantasy for African children but today that dream is closer to becoming a reality. In countries where soccer is king, the sport of basketball has brought new hope and excitement to children and coaches. African athletes are using basketball as a means to escape the poverty of Africa to pursue the American dream. This newfound love of basketball has opened new doors for ministry in East African nations.
In recent years God has done amazing works in these countries. In 2006 Athletes in Action had the opportunity to share the sport of basketball and their Christian faith by hosting coaches clinics and player camps in Kenya. Since then, the movement has continued to grow and has now expanded into the neighboring countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Congo and others.
This August, AIA will be sending a team of 40 people consisting of coaches, players and humanitarian aid volunteers to support basketball ministries in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. They will be hosting more than 360 players at basketball camps and over 240 coaches at clinics. They will also be engaging in humanitarian efforts such as bringing medicine, mosquito nets and food to orphanages and schools. In a place where people are hungry for instruction in basketball, AIA is able to bring them the training they desire and talk about the Christian faith. “If we can do that we will be able to influence an entire sports culture,” says Eric N., the project director, “and that would be a great win for us.”
The goal of this trip is to raise leaders and to equip them to serve and minister in these countries in need of spiritual healing. The hope is that it will build a strong movement of believers who can use basketball as a platform to share their Christian beliefs.
By Lacey Mehling, Athletes in Action summer intern
The buzzer sounds and the players line up and shake hands after a hard-fought game, but the real “game” is just beginning for the Athletes in Action women’s basketball team as they begin to share their personal faith stories and engage in spiritual conversations with their opponents and other people in Mexico.
The 11-member team travelled to Puebla, Mexico where they used their passion and skills in basketball to not only compete, but to make a spiritual impact. They saw God transform the lives of many people there, but perhaps most remarkable was the work He did in the hearts of the players themselves.
With many deep emotional wounds and from very different backgrounds, the team was brought together for a higher purpose than only competition. At the training camp God began working through the team members to help each other cope with struggles and personal heartaches and to prepare them to reach out to others in Mexico.
One team member describes the importance of her teammates in helping her overcome a tragic event in her life, “I lost half of my heart three years ago; y’all have been putting the pieces back together.” She says, “The principles [AIA taught at the training camp] have been huge in my life in melting my pride because of finding my identity as an athlete.”
To many, basketball is just a game, but for this team it was a means to share and experience God’s love. As the team discipler Rachel S. put it, “The girls were unified in Spirit and purpose in a unique way, and it was evident in how they played on the court and in how they engaged in community off of the court.”
By Lacey Mehling, Athletes in Action summer intern
The men’s volleyball team set out to the Columbus airport without enough visas for everyone to board the plane to Brazil. They weren’t even sure they would be able to travel together as a team, but they went in faith believing that God wanted them to go and that He would work it out for them.
They were able to pick up their visas on the way to the airport, just in time for them to make their flight. “Everything just came together. From getting invited by the Brazilian Volleyball Federation to play, to getting everything set up and financed, to getting the visas, God seemed to line it up perfectly,” said Shari H., team staff member.
They stayed at the Junior National Training Center in Rio de Janeiro, a volleyball player’s paradise, where they played against the nation’s elite players. While there, they had the opportunity to talk about their personal faith and minister to these young players who were thirsty to understand what made the American players so different.
From there they travelled to the Brazilian Athlete Military Base outside of Rio, where they practiced with Olympic-caliber players. They also gave AIA resources to the Brazilian players and prayed with them.
In Sao Paulo the team was hosted by a church and invited to play in recreation centers around the city. When playing these teams they gave them Bibles and The Prize DVD which features two Christian Brazilian soccer players.
The way the AIA team played and interacted with one another also spoke volumes to their opponents. As Shari noted, “The Brazilian coaches even commented on how their players were adapting to the playing style of our team—encouraging and lifting up one another.”
The team faced struggles on the court, where they won very few games. “They faced some humbling losses, but they were able to glorify God through it all,” Shari says. “We had many successes in our interactions with players off the court, which made it all worth it.”
The team of sports medicine and strength and conditioning professionals got off the plane in Guatemala City to be welcomed by the eruption of the Pacaya volcano. Ashes layered the city, cancelled the Sports Medicine Congress and their ministry plans.
The devastation did not end there, however. Tropical storm Agatha brought torrential rains the next three days causing road closings, mudslides, and the closing of the airport and all government buildings. In the wake of this disaster, the team began to ask, “God what is it You want us to do here?”
“Plan B” began to take shape. The number one sports radio station in the country invited a local AIA staff member, Cristobal, along with Dr. Luck, a doctor on the trip, to talk about the team and the AIA purpose in Guatemala.
The team also went to work. They cleaned up volcanic ash and found new opportunities to use their expertise in the community. They conducted a clinic at the World Gym, teaching speed and workout routines to the personal trainers and then talked about their faith.
Another opportunity opened up for them to conduct assemblies for athletes at SiDeporte, a sports academy run by the Sports Confederation. There, the trainers again talked about their personal faith in God and met with some of the students.
Alda, one of the trainers, said, “I couldn’t help but be in awe as to how God lined everything up for us. I don’t think that anyone would look at a volcano eruption as being a blessing, but the truth is that if Pacaya had not erupted, then the events of today would not have happened.”
The following week, Cristobal returned to SiDeporte and showed The Prize DVD, which tells the faith stories of six World Cup soccer players. That day, several student athletes make decisions to begin personal relationships with Christ. Now, Christobal is holding a weekly Bible study at the training center.
Dr. Luck said of his experience on the trip: “It started as a four-day trip of sports medicine lectures and ended with an eight-day personal revival. We arrived amidst a volcanic eruption, followed by a tropical storm. The country shut down—nothing in or out. We volunteered to clean volcanic ash at an apartment. No word was spoken, but people noticed. God did open doors to speak on national sports radio, to a sports school, to athletes, to tell about why we’re here to share our expertise and the love of God. Airports finally opened and I left with a greater appreciation of God, His plan, my family and God’s love.”
By Lacey Mehling, Athletes in Action intern
In the “Year of the Pitcher,” Major League Baseball enthusiasts have had much to cheer about.
From two perfect games to five no-hitters to the astounding rookie debut of Washington Nationals pitching-phenom Stephen Strasberg, fans have witnessed many commendable feats this season, but all take a formative backseat to the humility and forgiveness displayed earlier this summer by veteran umpire Jim Joyce and Detroit Tiger’s hurler Armando Galarraga, respectively.
In the history of the league, over the course of more than a century’s worth of games—hundreds of thousands of innings of baseball played—there have only been 20 perfect games...EVER! No runs. No walks. No hits. No errors. Twenty-seven batters up, and twenty-seven batters down. To say that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is a proverbial understatement—it’s the pinnacle of any pitcher’s accomplishment—it’s more than a dream. Yet for Galarraga, it was in reach. He had already faced 26 batters, retiring them all. Now, needing only one more out, he was on the brink of history; he was on the cusp of becoming the 21st player all-time to record perfection…
All until the illustrious “safe” call was heard around the world—the erroneous decision made by the first base umpire Jim Joyce—irretrievably ripping Galarraga from baseball notoriety. Replay would reveal (and Joyce would later confess) that he blatantly missed a call—a very big call at that.
But what followed after the game—specifically between Galarraga and Joyce—transcended sport. Sports Illustrated calls it, “The epitome of the human element—not the mistake, but the grace and humility.” Joyce admitted his error, and Galarraga never said a sour word; he simply forgave him for making a mistake regardless of how high the stakes were.
The next day Galarraga met Joyce at home plate in a public display of forgiveness, demonstrating a turning of the page.
To no fault of his own, Galarraga lost out on the chance of being a part of history. But Galarraga was a part of history that June day; he showed the watching world that forgiveness does exist. He showed the sports world something that they may never see like that again—he showed sportsmanship.
You see, there are life events that happen—often without any fault of your own—jobs are lost, people die, and families are broken apart. Life happens. You can’t control what happens, but you can control how you will respond in those moments—regardless if you are the offended or the offender—you do have a choice. You can’t undo anything you or another has already done, but you can face up to it. You can seek or offer forgiveness. You can turn the page. You can move on, and let God do the rest.
Scott Linebrink of the Chicago White Sox
Scott Linebrink, right handed relief pitcher of the Chicago White Sox, was a small, skinny kid who loved baseball. He was a pretty slick infielder. Scott’s dad, Mike, was his early coach from T-ball, Little League, and American Legion, but there was not much pitching. Scott’s high school baseball career at McNeil High School in Round Rock, Texas, was nothing out of the ordinary except for his desire and love for the game. He went off to college in the fall of 1994 at Concordia University, Austin, TX, where he “walked on” the baseball team. His first year he mainly played infield with very little pitching. It was those two years at Concordia when Scott started to grow taller and stronger. In Scott’ second year, head coach James Keller began to work with Scott on his pitching. “Coach Keller,” as Scott shares, “was a wonderful person with a tremendous amount of courage as he was fighting ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).” Scott goes on saying, “Coach put extra time working with me and encouraged me to pursue my dream.” The summer after his sophomore year, Scott played in a summer league with D-1 players, and he held his own. Scott’s father added, “Even though Coach Keller could have used Scott at Concordia, Coach helped Scott transfer to Southwest Texas University (now Texas State at San Marcos) to play Division I baseball.”
At Southwest Texas, Scott got some outstanding instruction from head coach Howard Bushong, now coaching in the Detroit Tiger organization. They had an outstanding year (1996-1997) and went to the playoffs for the first time ever. They ended up one game away from the college world series. The San Francisco Giants saw Scott defeat Texas Tech and were so impressed by Scott that they drafted him in the second round and sent him off to his rookie league assignment.
Scott grew up in a Christian home, made up of his parents, Mike and Pixie, and younger sisters, Lindsey and Kelly. He went to Our Savior Lutheran Church (LCMS), Austin, TX, where he was baptized and confirmed. In addition he attended Lutheran School up to 6th grade. He attended public school for middle school and high school. One of his favorite Bible verses is his confirmation verse from Revelation 2:10 which says: “Do not fear…Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Scott’s faith has always been important to him, and his regular attendance at worship and Bible class only increased his desire to walk with the Lord. “When Scott left for Rookie ball in the Northwest,” shares Pixie, “it was a sentimental moment for all of us. We knew he had a strong faith and God will take care of Scott.”
Scott has always been close to home whether at Concordia or at Southwest Texas. It was when he left for his minor league assignments that he was truly on his own. “I always had the love and support from my family and extended family which helped me stay grounded.” But it was during these first three years that “I wanted to blend in with my teammates and be a good guy. I always went to church and attended chapel, but I was not as active as I should have been. I kind of got away from my walk. My life was not indicative of a believer.”
In the spring of 2000, Scott was brought up to the Giants Major League club, and he made his Major League debut April 15th. After appearing in three games with the Giants, they traded him to the Houston Astros. For two years he went up and down from the minor leagues to the majors, having recorded no wins or losses.
There were two events that really were significant in Scott’s spiritual life during this time. The first was when Scott arrived in Houston, and he went to a Bible study. The second was being around one of his sister Lindsey’s volleyball friends, Kelly Anderson. “I was traded to Houston,” says Scott, “and when I attended a Bible study, I remember Lance Berkman putting forth a challenge. He said ‘If you were accused of being a Christian in a court of law, would there be enough evidence to convict you?’” That really hit Scott. Scott was reminded of the Scripture “Be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) He goes on to say, “For the most part I was living the way I wanted. I would attend church, go to chapel and an occasional Bible study, but it was not a part of my daily walk. It was a time when I was being brought to the majors and then being sent down to the minors. I would be called up and do well then still was sent down. I was wondering what did I have to do? I was losing heart and did not know where to turn.”
It was at this point Scott confessed, “I am tired of trying to make this work and carrying the responsibility of my career on my shoulders, and feeling everything I do is life or death. I want my career to be a reflection of my Christian walk and everything I do is to give glory to God. I know there is a plan in place for me. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds me of that and I need to trust that plan.”
Scott decided, whether he is in triple A, or in the Major Leagues he was going to have faith in God’s plan. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” This was a pivotal point in his life, feeling he had turned his life over to the Lord and allowed Him to have control.
Scott shared a story he heard. “When Solomon’s temple was being built, the rocks being used were massive rocks. They were being mined and shaped in the quarry because, the Temple being a Holy place, there could be no hammering or chiseling done on the Temple site. The rocks were shaped to fit perfectly. We correlate this to us being shaped and chiseled in the trials and suffering of life; and when we get to Heaven, we will fit perfectly. We are being shaped to be the kind of person God wants us to be.”
It was about his time that Kelly Anderson, daughter of Roger and Debbie Anderson of Walburg, Texas, and friend of Scott’s sister, Lindsey, became acquainted with the Linebrink family. But it wasn’t until 2001 that Scott became really interested in Kelly. Like Scott, Kelly came from a Christian home and she was baptized and confirmed at Zion Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Walburg where she attended their elementary school. After graduating from Georgetown (TX) High School, she went off to Texas A & M to go into teaching. Kelly graduated from Texas A & M in 2001, and that was when Scott and Kelly began to date. They both come from large families and large extended families which was one thing, besides Kelly’s faith, that attracted Scott to her.
Between Scott’s spiritual growth and his budding romance with Kelly, life was becoming brighter. Scott and Kelly were married in 2003 at Zion Lutheran. Kelly was the fourth generation in her family to be married at Zion. Together they rededicated their lives to the Lord. They have since been blessed with two girls, Ellie Jane (3 yrs) and Abigail (7 mo). “The girls are such a joy in our lives,” shares Kelly. “It is such a comfort and joy,” states Scott, “to be able to go home after a game and be with Kelly and the girls.”
It was in 2003 when Scott was claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres. Between Houston and San Diego, Scott pitched in 52 games and won 3, including a win over the Chicago Cubs (7-5), as a starter. He had some really good years with the Padres (2003-2007); then he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers (2007) where he was reunited with Christian pitching buddy from the Astros organization, Brian Shouse. “Actually, Trish, Shousie’s wife, and Kelly gave birth to little girls, our Ellie Jane and their Daisy, about the same time when we were in Milwaukee.” Gabe Gross, another Christian brother, was in Milwaukee too. In 2008 Scott signed a four year contract with the Chicago White Sox.
In Chicago, Scott is highly regarded. Media Director Ray Garcia says, “Scott is just a nice person and is wonderful to work with. His life reflects what he believes in.” One who knows Scott the best is bullpen coach, Juan Nieves, who owns a no-hitter from his playing days with the Brewers. Nieves shares, “Scott is an exceptional person, great on his faith; he lives by it, a great example of it.” Nieves goes on, “We have embraced Scott as the supportive, calm zone on the team who guys will go to when things are not going well even though he has gone through battles himself. He stays strong and always abides by the Word of God.” White Sox chaplain, Mickey Weston, director of Unlimited Potential, Inc (UPI), shares, “Scott is one of the most quality Christian men in baseball. He is what we call a “Gatekeeper” who opens doors for opportunities to bring Christ to players.” Weston concludes,” God is using Scott in a mighty way to further the Kingdom of Christ and bring glory to the Father.”
It is typical of Scott, always willing to give of himself. His parents say that Scott could be a very good speaker, but Scott shies away from public speaking, preferring to stay in the background and give behind the scenes. “Scott is very supportive of his church, Zion Lutheran,” his father shares. “He helped in the Ablaze program for the LCMS mission project by being a speaker for their video presentation, and he lent support for an audio Bible mission program.” Scott also teams with Dave D.*, area Athletes in Action director, to bring chapel services and Bible studies to the Sox at spring training in Arizona.
Scott likes working with kids. “I enjoy the kids. I participate in clinics and camps for kids, especially with UPI, where I can share Christ through baseball.”
Another program that is important to Scott is Pro Athletes Outreach (PAO). “We are very active in PAO,” says Kelly. “We are on the Board of Directors for PAO which has the ‘vision to recruit and equip an army of coaches, professional athletes and their families to make a positive impact in the world for Jesus Christ.’ We have Christ-centered programs and conferences that reach out to athletes, coaches and their families.” Kelly concludes by saying, “The conferences help build and strengthens their personal relationships, marriages, parenting, finances, and faith.”
“The beauty of Scott is,” exclaims his father, “he was never a star in high school or college; but through hard work and using his God-given talent, he has made it to the highest level and all with humility.” His mother sums it up this way, “Scott’s spiritual gift is humility and he leads in a quiet way through his actions.”
Scott likes Paul’s Book to the Philippians, especially Chapter 4 verse 16: “Be anxious about nothing, instead pray about everything…” As Scott puts it, “We, Kelly and I, try to place our trust in the Lord and go about living our lives for Christ.”
*full name withheld at staff member's request
by Mark Darnall and Bruce Darnall, freelance writers