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  • Drew Brees to receive the 2011 Bart Starr Award

    Feb 1, 2011

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    GRAPEVINE, TX (January 19, 2011) — Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints has been named the recipient of the 2011 Bart Starr Award. The award honors one NFL player for outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community. NFL players from around the league vote on the Bart Starr Award at the same time they vote on the Pro Bowl.

    Bart Starr will present the award to Drew Brees at the 24th Annual NFL-sanctioned Super Bowl Breakfast, presented by Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. The Breakfast will take place on Saturday, February 5, 2011, at 8:00 a.m. CST at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas (1501 Gaylord Trail).

    Past winners of the award include Kurt Warner, Warrick Dunn, LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren Woodson, Anthony Munoz, Reggie White and Steve Largent. Please see www.superbowlbreakfast.com for a complete list of past winners.

    The four finalists for the 2011 Bart Starr Award were:

    · Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

    · Donald Driver, Green Bay Packers

    · London Fletcher, Washington Redskins

    · Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys

    This year’s Breakfast will include special guests Alicia Landry, Bob Breunig, Drew Pearson, Anthony Munoz, Tim Brown, Steve Largent and other NFL athletes and coaches. Program highlights include a segment on the 1967 “Ice Bowl,” featuring Bob Lilly and Rayfield Wright of the Cowboys and Bart Starr and Donny Anderson of the Packers; as well as a tribute to coach Tom Landry featuring players who were impacted by him in terms of character, leadership, and integrity, and how that legacy continues today.

    The Super Bowl champion quarterback and Super Bowl LXIV MVP, Brees, started the Brees Dream Foundation to advance cancer research, provide care for cancer patients and provide funds for rebuilding projects including schools, parks, playgrounds, and athletic fields in New Orleans, San Diego, and West Lafayette, Indiana. Since signing with New Orleans in 2006, Brees has tirelessly worked to help rebuild the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Other charitable involvements include Operation Kids, Drew Brees Gridiron Classic, USO Missions, American Cancer Society, and Painted Turtle Camps.

    Priority and corporate tables are still available and may be purchased by calling (800) 416-9472. More information can be found at www.superbowlbreakfast.com.

    About the Athletes in Action Super Bowl Breakfast

    The Super Bowl Breakfast is an NFL-sanctioned event hosted by Athletes in Action.  The signature event of Super Bowl week has taken place in the game's host city every year since 1988, drawing sellout crowds to hear from some of the game’s biggest names. The Bart Starr Award, given away at the breakfast, honors Starr's lifelong commitment to serving as a positive role model to his family, teammates and community. The winner of the Bart Starr Award is determined by NFL player balloting at the end of the regular season, making the award one of only two individual honors selected by the players themselves.

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  • Packers & Steelers: Ambassadors

    Feb 1, 2011

    It’s a tale of two cities. Steel versus cheese.  Roethlisberger versus Rodgers. Both have endured the best of times and have also seen the worst of times. Both cities have blue-collared workers and adoring fans.

    The Packers and Steelers:  two historic teams raising the standard yet again for success.  Collectively they share:  11 Super Bowl appearances, 9 Super Bowl Trophies, 18 Championships, and 40 Hall-of-Famers. Names like Lambeau, Starr, and Favre as well as Rooney, Bradshaw, and Swann—not to mention the namesake of the Lombardi Trophy itself—these names and franchises are synonymous with NFL lore and grandeur.  They are the golden thread that unites the league to it’s storied past, it’s illustrious present, and it’s uncertain future. And though they are the face of the league, they are merely ambassadors for the NFL; the National Football League would still exist without either Green Bay or Pittsburgh, but neither team would exist independently of the game itself…

    …And so too Christians—regardless of vocation, denomination, social status, race or spiritual heritage—are merely ambassadors and vessels for the Gospel of Christ.  Bottom line:  It’s not about us!  God doesn’t need anyone of us to accomplish His purposes or plans…not the Pope not Billy Graham not any Church or Para-Church, and yet He still chooses to use us—the weak and the ignorant—to bring glory to Himself. 

    That said, may we not allow are spiritual ego to swell nor sulk in our own strength.  But rather proceed humbly and willingly, and like Samuel before us, openly submit before the Lord saying, “Here I am Lord…” And then, when Sovereign God chooses to use us as He deems, He’ll—not us—will receive all glory and honor.

  • Coaches and Christians: Press On

    Jan 6, 2011

    It is said that nothing, except death and taxes, is certain in life. Added to that list of absolutes in our results-driven society should be the numerous coaching changes that occur annually like clockwork. Due to the big business atmosphere that collegiate and professional sports offers, it is no wonder that coaches are held to a seemingly unfair performance standard of perfection.

    When teams inevitably fail to meet the high expectations of fans, boosters, and alums alike, the proverbial rope of grace becomes tightened. And with so much money, for so many people at stake, that rope often becomes a noose for coaches and their staff, inescapably signaling the end of yet another coaching regime.

    Similar to coaches, as Christians, we’re called to strive for the high goal of perfection. The Gospel of Matthew (5:48) sets the gold standard, “…Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect…” For mortal man, this seems unobtainable, and in many ways it is. Fortunately for our frailty, in contrast to the grace period oft given to coaches, the apostle Paul conveys that God continually offers an arm of grace to the genuinely repentant individual. And so we too, regardless of our failings, must exemplify the model of Paul, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…”

  • Heisman Winner Cam Newton: Hope it’s not True

    Dec 17, 2010

    College football has long been synonymous with big business. Lucrative television contracts, corporate sponsorships, conference profit sharing, coaching endorsements, merchandising, concessions, luxury suites, seat licensing, stadium naming rights and multi-million dollar bowl appearance payouts—there is nothing “non-profit” about the game.

    So it is no wonder that the collegiate landscape has long been tainted before the allegations ever surfaced surrounding Auburn’s Heisman trophy winner Cam Newton. Most recently, before Newton, was another Heisman inductee—who has since returned the reward—former University of Southern California (USC) standout, Reggie Bush. Prior to USC, there have been multiple programs that were reprimanded by the NCAA for illegally alluring recruits, most notably of which was Southern Methodist University (SMU). In the 1980s, SMU saw their football program cease operations for two years—receiving the ‘death penalty'—for multiple incidents surrounding the illegal payment of players. And even prior to WWII, William and Mary found itself in scandals revolving around transcript adjustments that directly made players eligible to play and receive academic scholarships that were unearned.

    For every school, coach, and player that was convicted for operating illegally, there are many more that are left undetected. Some critics would say, “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying, and thus you won’t be competitive.” And though the NCAA has recently become more strict in its due diligence, as long as there is money and imperfect people, there will always be controversy, greed and unethical business practices in an attempt to “get ahead.”

    So for the Christian, how do we proceed? In 1 Timothy we are urged to “be above reproach.” Regardless of what others do on the field of competition or in the boardroom at the office, it’s imperative to live blamelessly, knowing that you’re ultimately responsible to God. Because, regardless of success or not, His opinion is the only one that truly matters.

    So congratulations Cam Newton on a phenomenal year, but regarding the surrounding defamatory allegations—we are hoping it’s not true.

  • Preseason bonding helps Flyers soccer to NCAA berth

    Dec 8, 2010

    Team forged chemistry during a preseason stay at the Athletes in Action facility in Xenia.

    By Doug Harris, Staff Writer

    Updated 12:03 PM Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Most coaches would prefer not to start a season with a road trip, but Mike Tucker, the University of Dayton women’s soccer coach, thought the best decision he made all year was loading his players on a bus back in August and getting them out of town.

    Because UD’s preseason camp opened before campus housing was ready, the Flyers spent a couple of days at the Athletes in Action facility in Xenia. And the chemistry forged on that get-away helped propel them to an Atlantic 10 title and an NCAA tournament berth.

    “We would all eat together, all practice together and all do different activities together,” said junior star Kathleen Beljan. “And even in our down time ... because we were at that camp, we all just hung out as opposed to going our separate ways. It brought us close together.”

    That unity certainly will come in handy when the Flyers (18-3) begin NCAA tourney play against Virginia Tech (10-9-1) at Ohio State at about 7:30 p.m. Friday. OSU (14-4-1), the Big Ten co-champ, plays Northeast Conference winner St. Francis (15-4-2) in the first game of the doubleheader at 5 p.m.

    The Hokies, one of eight ACC teams in the field of 64, eliminated the Flyers from the tourney last season in a second-round game at Baujan Field. UD dropped a 1-0 regular-season decision at home to the Buckeyes this season.

    Tucker, who has led the Flyers to seven NCAA berths in 16 years, doesn’t consider the trip to the AIA grounds a stroke of genius, calling it instead “dumb luck” because UD’s campus was closed.

    He’s glad it was.

    “When you come to camp that early, you have one group here, another group there,” he said. “They all got to know each other. They all got to spend a lot more time together than they would have otherwise. That was big. We’re going to try to do that every year now.”

    Contact this writer at (937) 225-2125 or dharris@DaytonDailyNews.com.

    Find this article at:

    http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/springfield-oh-sports/university-of-dayton-flyers/preseason-bonding-helps-flyers-soccer-to-ncaa-berth-998411.html

  • A Spiritually Rich Movement is Thriving in Poverty-stricken Moldova

    Dec 7, 2010

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    Poverty, despair, and lack of resources have been prevalent in the country of Moldova. Being listed as one of the poorest countries in Europe, Moldova has experienced serious hardships throughout the years. However, Moldova is one of the fastest developing countries for Campus Crusades for Christ, and especially for Athletes in Action.

    AIA Moldova is running several major projects throughout the European continent, showcasing the true message of Jesus Christ. Currently Ghena M.*, a dynamic, faithful man of God, is leader of this developing ministry. Since its beginning in 2002, AIA Moldova has been actively hosting events and camps for athletes. They are responsible for major basketball and football camps, tournaments, and the most recent: Character in Sport, SonRise Netherlands, and Total Athlete conferences and projects held this year.

    Moldova has a lot to look forward to in the future: “Three weeks ago, I and my colleagues met with the Minister of Sport. After he learned about our organization and what we can offer the world of sports, he redirected us to the Olympians Training Center (OTC). After a brief conversation with the head of OTC, we now have a verbal agreement on a long-term partnership, where AIA Moldova runs the Total Athlete seminars for all coaches, athletes and doctors of the Olympic sports in Moldova! Is it not a blessing!” Ghena exclaims. “Also, since 2010, all new AIA staff members are trained in sports ministry. In addition to this change, we have prepared a course for students and key volunteers. We call the course ‘Faith in Action.’ I think this is an incredible achievement for our ministry, as we have adapted the material for athletes, and we are those who teach the course rather than somebody from outside the ministry.”

    “God has prepared for us what we cannot even imagine”

    We asked Ghena about his experiences with AIA and what he has gained from working with Athletes in Action. “Being part of the sport ministry is a big responsibility, because not only do your physical area and even intellectual areas matter, it is very important how you mature as a Christian. It's obvious who you are when you perform on the sport field. People can immediately see what a person you are, because the stress is much higher than outside of sport. I believe that God has prepared for us what we cannot even imagine—1 Corinthians 2:9. So I believe that is still to come!”

    By Ronald Woodland, AIA communications intern

    *AIA does not publish last names of staff members.

  • Odds are against Oden

    Nov 22, 2010

    Recently, I was watching highlights from ESPN and my heart began to break as I watched injury-prone Portland Trailblazer’s Greg Oden carted off on a stretcher, an all-too familiar scene that will end yet another promising season for the big man due to reconstructive surgery.

    Life is a fickle thing. At one moment you can be on top of the mountain and at the next you find yourself stuck in the valleys. Oden has lived this paradox.

    After playing a promising collegiate freshman season—playing for a national championship—Oden was atop the sporting world, seemingly having his dreams come true. Touted as the best promising big man to play in decades, he was drafted as the first overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft—ahead of Oklahoma Thunder’s star Kevin Durant, a current MVP candidate in the league. Since then, Oden has lived in the valleys of life as chronic injuries have plagued his playing time, sidelining him for more than 176 games over the course of three seasons, and leaving his critics to wonder “What if?”

    Now maybe you can relate with Oden to some degree. Maybe you find yourself filled with disappointment and unfulfilled longings. Maybe you were granted the job of your dreams, just to have an unexpected terminal illness render you bankrupt. Maybe you were given a coveted promotion, just to be unemployed weeks later. Maybe you have hoped for years to conceive, just to miscarry. Maybe you married the love of your life, just to tragically lose them in the following months.

    Life is filled with “What if?” moments. And even though it is part of the healing process, the questioning is unfortunately pointless to ponder too long. Inevitably it leads to nothing of benefit. Sure, everyone wants to enjoy the mountain-top experience: the view is much better, the air is much cleaner, and the perspective is much clearer. But few realize that the vegetation is found in the valleys—that is where the most growth occurs.

    So the next time you’re tempted to consider “What if?”, choose instead to consider “What now?” Because as Ecclesiastes tells us, it’s not wise to ask, “Why were the old days better than these?”

  • Tide’s Katie Hancock ‘living a dream’ at Alabama

    Nov 19, 2010

    By Allyson Angle Special to The Tuscaloosa News

    Published: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.

    TUSCALOOSA | Katie Hancock said she was in organized basketball as soon as she could be, by age 5 or 6.

    “I might have come out of the womb playing basketball,” Hancock said.

    Hancock, a senior forward on the University of Alabama basketball team, said her family has old photos with her brothers holding big teddy bears when they were asleep, and she is holding a basketball.

    Growing up with two older brothers made her competitive.

    Jon-Jon played baseball for Ole Miss and was a member of the Rebels’ 2006 SEC championship team. Her oldest brother, Josh, pitched for Auburn’s College World Series team and professionally for the St. Louis Cardinals before he died in a car accident less than a year after the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006. Their father played Division II basketball at Delta State.

    Katie got the athletic gene, too.

    From Tupelo, Miss., which is between Oxford and Starkville, Katie figured she would go to Ole Miss or Mississippi State.

    “I always wanted to play in college, but it was kind of a stretch for me to play SEC basketball,” Hancock said.

    When neither of those schools, or any other SEC school, offered her a scholarship, Jon-Jon sent tape of Katie to the coaches at Alabama.

    The Crimson Tide called and she made an unofficial visit. UA didn’t have a scholarship to offer, but she came anyway. She fell in love and the coaches welcomed her to walk on the team for the next year.

    Within a week of being on campus, Hancock had earned a scholarship.

    “It was extremely fortunate,” Hancock said. “I’m living my dream ... and it’s humbling to play with people like Ericka (Russell) and Tierney (Jenkins), who have so much talent.”

    Hancock said the team at Alabama became like an extended family, especially after stepped onto campus just six weeks after her brother Josh died.

    “I felt like all my support system had been cut off and I was struggling to find something to hang on to, but the team just embraced me and they were my family and still are,” Hancock said. “Twenty years down the road I might not remember any of these games, but all of these girls will be at my wedding.”

    Katie graduated in August, earning her degree in business management in three years. Before graduation in August, she went to Pueblo, Mexico, for three weeks with an organization called Athletes in Action, which forms a basketball team with girls from all over the country.

    “It was a ton of fun,” Hancock said. “It was really good for me because I think I had lost the passion to play basketball and then I went on this mission trip and it kind of just reignited me, and now I’m having a blast.

    “I’m not fast and I’m not quick, but I’m a hard worker and I can pick up basketball pretty well.”

    Alabama coach Wendell Hudson agrees.

    “She’s not the ‘Rah-rah’ type,” he said. “She’s the type of leader that will come and work hard everyday and expect everyone else to work hard.”

    To see the original story go to:  http://www.tidesports.com/article/20101117/NEWS/101119684/1011?p=1&tc=pg&tc=ar

  • Not Your Ordinary Ministry

    Nov 11, 2010

    The Racquet.net – University of Wisconsin (4,700 U.S. monthly unique visitors per Quantcast)

    By Allen Knappenberber, Nov. 10, 2010

    http://www.theracquet.net/features/that-s-life/not-your-ordinary-ministry-1.1768365

    What is present in 85 countries, on nearly 125 U.S. college campuses, and on 35 U.S. professional sports teams? The answer is Athletes in Action, or more commonly known as AIA.

    Since 1966, AIA has been a world leader and innovator in the sport ministry. The organization exists to help change lives on a spiritual and athletic level not only in the locker rooLeft to Right: Danielle Grey, Josh Miller, and Megan Krusenstjerna meet to discuss upcoming ‘Athletes in Action’ events for the semester. The group meets Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. in 337 Cartwright.m but also in the community.

    AIA speaks the language of sport. A language that shatters barriers, surpasses differences, and touches even the non-athletic. More than 500 staff members, countless volunteers, and thousands of athletes stand together to share one message: Life's greatest victory is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

    AIA brings the concept of Jesus and his message of victory into the hearts, homes, and communities of millions around the globe.

    UW-La Crosse is just one of many college campuses that is host to such an organization. AIA is a Bible study with the motto, "Changed lives" that is geared toward athletes. But student leaders on campus try to invite anyone and everyone to the weekly meetings.

    Community team leader Kelly Kirchmeyer is able to see the rewarding aspects of the group manifest themselves each week. "I just feel there is great fellowship and bonding. Getting to know other people's insights on God's word is the true reward," said Kirchmeyer.

    But she isn't the only one who thinks AIA is a life-changing experience. In his three years of being a leader of the weekly meetings and manager of the discipleship team, Josh Miller feels that the meetings challenge him both spiritually and mentally. "You are always learning something new," said Miller. "Whether it is a guest speaker or preparing the Bible study for the week, there is always a new dynamic that unfolds."

    AIA is more than just a Bible study geared towards athletics. This group participates with campus wide events and fundraisers that anyone can attend. Campus Crusade staff member Mark Ducklow, who works directly with the leaders and members of AIA, commented on his favorite event--the 3 v. 3 basketball tournament hosted each March.

    It is a great opportunity where, "People can have fun playing basketball," said Ducklow. "What they don't know is that through this, AIA is raising money to buy mosquito nets for the people of Africa." These nets help fight off mosquitoes that may be carrying malaria or any other sort of disease.

    The big seller for fundraising comes from haunting a local corn maze in West Salem. Hidden Trails Corn Maze has asked AIA to help them in their haunting for over six years. Members are happy to contribute time and energy to help local communities. "It's fun to get together outside of the group and learn about people on a more personal level," said Miller. The haunting of the maze takes place every year the weekend before Halloween and Halloween weekend.

    Not only do the members of AIA plan fundraisers but they enjoy spending time together outside of the organization. Members try to get to any sporting event UW-L puts on and cheer on the Eagles. They have a passion for sports and through that they want to tell others about what God can do in sports and in your life. They are just regular college students with a desire to grow in their sport spiritually, mentally, and physically. Having fun seems to be a key priority to those involved with this organization.

    The primary goal of this group is to give people an opportunity to encounter Jesus, to help them walk and grow in their faith, and to help others find Jesus in their lives.

    A typical meeting for AIA consists of announcements, a sport blooper video, an icebreaker, prayer, and then a Bible discussion. Often special speakers will come in and give their testimony or insight into God's word. Recently former Wisconsin Badger football player Luke Swan came in and talked about our significance in this world. With over 40 members, it is the perfect spot to come relax, hang out, and chat with a small group of people about what you believe in.

    AIA meets at 9:00 p.m. every Wednesday in room 337 of Cartwright Center. People of all backgrounds and denominations are welcome to attend. It is completely free to become a member.

  • Michael Vick: On the Wings of Eagles

    Oct 7, 2010

    Resurging. Rejuvenating. Restoring.  Those adjectives have surprisingly been used to redefine the career of Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Michael Vick throughout the NFL’s 2010 campaign.

    After his tumultuous fall from grace, as one of the premier athletes in the world, many considered Michael Vick as just another talented athlete who sadly squandered his God-given abilities and foolishly sabotaged his finances and brought on his own demise. But this story doesn’t end there. After humbly serving his time—both in the literal sense of his months of incarceration, and the figurative sense of serving as second and third string quarterback—Michael Vick has emerged renewed—heartily committed, heroic in the heat of the game, and a spokesman for the Humane Society. 

    Regardless if you are offering cheers or jeers for Michael Vick, he has silently taught many spectators a lesson:  you can lose what you’ve worked for in the blink of an eye, but even so, that doesn’t have to be the end all. The principle of reciprocity notes that there are consequences for every action—whether good or bad. And while sometimes the world is less likely to offer forgiveness for acts of redemption, Vick has shown that sometimes you are granted a second chance in life. And in that, it is imperative to make the most of each moment you’re given and to “do the right thing” no matter how you are received.