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  • 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.

  • Michael Redd Partners with Athletes in Action and City Life in Columbus, Ohio

    Oct 6, 2010

    Michael Redd with Columbus kids

    “Was this about what you expected tonight?” I asked Jack, director of the City Life urban ministry center. “No. This is by far the most people we’ve ever had here. I can’t thank you and AIA and Michael enough for this,” Jack replied.

    It was the evening of August 21 as Jack and I stood in the gymnasium at the City Life Center watching as more than 400 people departed from the evening’s outreach event. That day around 20 of the student-athletes involved in Athletes in Action at The Ohio State University partnered with NBA all-star and Olympic gold medalist Michael Redd and his ministry, The Wave, to reach out to urban Columbus. Michael purchased 500 backpacks and a number of gift cards to distribute to kids and families at four sites around the city. At each site the students prayed for and talked with people who stopped by.

    At one apartment complex, Taylor (track) and Corey (ice hockey) made a sign that said “Stop for Prayer” and stood on the road to attract people. Two 20-something girls saw the sign and pulled in with tears of sorrow in their eyes. After the girls shared the reason for their sadness, the AIA students prayed for them and then talked to them about what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ. Both girls then pDSC_0322 (2)rayed and asked Christ to come into their lives to be their Lord and Savior.

    At the City Life center—the final stop for the day—they served a meal to people from the Franklinton community, one of the most impoverished and crime-stricken neighborhoods in Ohio. Over 400 people showed up see Michael Redd and receive a free meal and free backpacks. Jack and the City Life staff were astounded by the number of people.

    Michael then delivered a message about his life growing up in that community and how Jesus has given him hope. Nearly 90 people stood to their feet to acknowledge their desire to learn more about a relationship with Jesus. Again the AIA students had an opportunity to pray with these people and to tell them the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.

    The day served as a brilliant picture of how AIA seeks to minister to and throughDSC_0213 (2) athletes. Michael showed the student-athletes that it is truly possible to be a star athlete, walk with God, and use your influence for the glory of God. And the AIA OSU athletes showed the city of Columbus the love of Christ in some real, tangible ways. More significantly, we were able to partner with City Life, a dynamic urban ministry that is already established in doing significant long-term work in Franklinton. (Check them out online at www.coyfc.org.) The AIA student athletes at OSU hope to have similar partnership opportunities in the future.

    By Jamie B., Athletes in Action staff member at The Ohio State University

  • FCA/AIA Ministry Thriving at NC State

    Sep 28, 2010

    RALEIGH — The pack of NC State athletes who strolled into Case Dining Hall didn’t break for the buffet line.

    Instead, they huddled in a corner of the cafeteria, seeking food for the soul. They were there, males and females, for the weekly meeting of FCAIA — a partnering ministry of Athletes In Action and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

    Amid the sound of upbeat music, they snacked, chatted, laughed and engaged in a competitive ice-breaking game. Then director Russ Throckmorton, drawing from Psalm 66, announced: “Come and listen to what God has done!”

    Moments later Wolfpack women’s basketball player Hannah Halteman and student weight-trainer Dave Overman shared how their faith grew through Athletes In Action excursions this past summer.

    Halteman spent a week in an Ultimate Training Camp at Ft.  Collins, Col., a physically demanding, spiritually enriching experience. She explained how God revealed “He is more than enough; He gives you everything you need,” however monumental life's challenges might be.

    Overman, renewed and enlightened by a mission trip to East Asia, encouraged his peers to “go against the grain,” be strong and adhere to biblical teachings rather than succumb to temptations of the world.

    Overman and Halteman, along with football players Asa Watson and Zach Powell, baseball player Ryan Mathews and women’s soccer players Jordan Edwards and Paige Dugal, are on NC State’s FCAIA student leaders team.

    They’re part of a growing campus ministry led by Throckmorton -- a former Kentucky swimmer and football player -- and his wife, Mary, who played on one of North Carolina’s national championship women’s soccer teams.

    DISCIPLING

    “We just want to be a spiritual resource and blessing in the athletics department (to) every athlete, coach, manager, trainer, administrator and help them develop spiritually,’’ said Russ, adding that support from NC State coaches has been tremendous.

    In addition to the weekly meeting, Russ leads Bible studies, one for coaches and administrators, and others for athletes. Mary has facilitated studies for women and trains  student leaders. The couple, parents of a five-month-old son, do one-to-one ministering as well.

    They’ve also made their home, located four miles from campus, a convenient haven — or refuge — for athletes who just want to hang out, relax,  discuss a problem, or get guidance.

    It’s a continuation of the spiritual emphasis on NC State's athletic scene. The FCA and AIA have long had a presence on campus.. The ministries merged several years ago at the suggestion of former athletic director Lee Fowler, a Christian who strongly supported the organizations.

    “The last two years, we’ve seen a movement (with) numerous lives changed,’’ Russ said.

    TRANSFORMATION

    Women’s soccer player Alex Berger, whose family is part Jewish, committed to the Christian faith last spring. She noted that defining moment: "May 14th."

    Her new faith journey began after meeting the Throckmortons, whom she calls “incredible people.”

    “God definitely worked through (Mary) to help me find Christ,’’ Berger said. “She helped me work through a lot of problems, and find my way. It has completely changed my outlook on life. I live my life entirely differently.”

    Berger wondered how some of her family members would react.

    “I had to make the decision for me; I’m growing more and more,’’ added Berger, who attends the FCAIA huddles and several weekly Bible studies.

    Zach Powell, a senior reserve defensive back on the Wolfpack football team, says his time with the Throckmortons and FCAIA has strengthened his faith the past two years.

    “They’ve grown me tremendously,’’ Powell said of his spiritual leaders. “The big thing, (FCAIA) applies God to sports, puts God in terms I understand. They (Throckmortons) taught me who God is … and how I can share Him through sports.”

    MORE ABOUT THE LEADERS

    Like some of the athletes he serves, Russ Throckmorton — widely known as “Throck” — underwent a spiritual revival seven years ago while in college.

    Though having grown up in church, he veered away and hit the party scene his first two years at Kentucky. During that time Throckmorton said he tried to satisfy his life through dating relationships, academics, and athletic success, yet still felt a void. Then he made a turn around, thanks in large part to Brett Nathaniel, UK’s Athletes In Action leader.

    “He really loved me, cared about me,’’ Throckmorton said. “I saw his life and heart, what he was truly about. He  hounded me to go to the Ultimate Training Camp (at Ft. Collins). There I heard the story of the Bible through the language of sports. It clicked for me.

    “I met my Savior there. I met my wife there. When I came back to Kentucky I had the mindset that I had to tell everybody about Jesus,’’ added Throckmorton, who started Bible studies on campus.

    Throckmorton, who had planned to become a dentist, and Mary got married in 2006. The couple then spent two years in training at AIA headquarters in Xenia, Ohio, before getting the call to serve at NC State in 2008.

    Mary was familiar with the area. After winning National Gatorade High School Soccer Player of the Year  honors in Lakewood, Col., she played four years for UNC’s national powerhouse and  earned All-ACC Academic honors.

    “She’s the athlete of the family," said Russ, but both are committed to the same higher calling.

    “Our motivation is to change lives for the sake of the gospel,’’ Russ said. “We hope to raise student leaders and volunteers in the Raleigh community. When (the NC State) students leave, we want them to influence the world for Christ.”

    By A.J. Carr, a freelance writer in Raleigh, N.C., and columnist for the NC State Wolfpack.

  • Athletes in Action Takes Ownership of 162-Acre Property in Ohio

    Sep 28, 2010

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    SEPTEMBER 28, 2010

     Xenia Property Includes State-of-the Art Sports Complex, Banquet Center and Office Buildings

    XENIA, Ohio, Sept. 28, 2010 - Impressive in scope with regulation-size football, baseball, soccer, and softball fields, the Athletes in Action headquarters in southwest Ohio has been leased to the sports ministry for eight years.  This winter, Athletes in Action will become the new owner of the 162-acre property, through a purchase by its parent organization, Campus Crusade for Christ.  “We believe that the purchase of the property will greatly accelerate our global vision of seeing a Christ follower on every team, in every sport and in every nation,” said Mark Householder, president of Athletes in Action.

    Located in Xenia, Ohio, along the US-35 bypass, the property was first used for the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans' Home, to provide a home for the orphans of veterans of the Civil War.  Legacy Ministries International (LMI) purchased the land in 1999, but the original buildings remain standing.

    The property has since expanded with construction of Athlete’s in Action’s World Training and Resource Center, including:

    • Grady’s Field – a regulation-size baseball stadium, with seating for 550 spectators, completely outfitted in Astro Turf's latest version of all-weather synthetic turf
    • Two softball fields, constructed of natural clay infields and synthetic turf outfields
    • Two NCAA regulation-sized, synthetic turf soccer fields and an interchangeable third football/soccer field outfitted with Astroturf Gameday Grass xPe
    • An NCAA-quality eight lane rubber track
    • A double-decker high ropes course consisting of 17 different elements suspended at levels of 25 and 40 feet high, which includes a 375-foot zip line
    • A low ropes course comprised of nine different team-building elements
    • On-campus housing for 278  

     

    LMI will retain approximately 40 acres for Xenia Christian School and some 50 acres for the Legacy Village Retirement Community.  The property also provides office space for several other organizations, including Samaritan’s Purse, International School Project, Heart to Honduras, Joni & Friends, WFCJ-FM and WEEC-FM.

     “Legacy Ministries International will continue the same great partnership with Athletes in Action, while transferring ownership,” said Claude (Bud) Schindler, president-emeritus of Legacy Ministries International. “With the leadership of Athletes in Action, we believe this complex will continue to have worldwide impact - through the ministries it houses and the people it hosts.”

    Athletes in Action, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, works with athletes and coaches to use the unique platform of sport to help people around the world with questions of faith.  For more information about Athletes in Action, visit AthletesinAction.org.

                                                                            - 30 -

  • Padres First Baseman finds Success through Attitude and Faith

    Sep 23, 2010

     Adrian Gonzalez, the three-time all-star first baseman for the San Diego Padres has Psalm 27:1 inscribed on his bat. That Bible verse reads, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

    “It is a reminder that when you are in a tough situation, God is in control,” Gonzalez says. “I put it  with my autograph in hopes kids would ask what that is and take time to read it. Hopefully it will lead them to the Bible.”

    Gonzalez gives credit for his success071710AH012_Diamondbacks_Padres

    Gonzalez tries to take whatever opportunity comes along to talk about and show his Christian faith. “I have success in baseball, but I know that is because of the Lord,” he says. “I know my preparing, my hard work definitely plays a part, but it would not be done without Christ.”

    Gonzalez, who signed right out of high school with the Florida Marlins in 2000, signed with the San Diego Padres in 2006. When asked about his best pro-experiences, he says, “Three things come to mind: being drafted number one overall in 2000, being called up to the big leagues for the first time in 2004, and playing in the playoffs in 2006 with the Padres.” His major league debut was April 18, 2004, and his first major league homerun was April 25, 2004.

    He wanted to have a strong marriage

    When Gonzalez married his wife, Betsy, his desire to have a strong marriage led him to a deeper commitment in his faith. “I felt in 2003 I needed to get deeper in my relationship with the Lord. And my wife, Betsy, had a strong relationship at the time, so as a married couple we decided we should have our relationship with the Lord be the foundation of our marriage.”

    Dave D.*, AIA staff member and spring training chaplain for the Padres in Arizona, adds, “Adrian and Betsy understand two things really well: First, they understand the significance of the platform that they have been given to share their faith in the Lord, as evidenced by their sharing at Faith Days at ball parks around the country and by producing and buying testimony cards they give out to people. Second, they understand the responsibility to provide spiritual leadership on their own team, as evidenced by the Bible studies and get-togethers they host for guys on the team and at hotels on road trips.

    “You don’t just get that spiritual leadership role by raising your hand or claiming the spot,” Dave adds. “You earn it by having a consistent [life] of integrity. Adrian has that with his teammates as well as with others around the league.”

    “Adrian is…someone I rely on to help me stay on course”

    Teammate Chase Headley says, “Adrian is a tremendous person, someone I rely on to help me stay on course with my walk with the Lord. He is always taking the lead for planning Bible studies. He and I will get together to decide how we will proceed with doing Bible studies with the rest of the guys on the team. You can really tell how he puts the Lord number one before anything else in his life including his career in baseball. You just see the way he goes about his business and how important it is for him to represent the Lord the right way.”

    Gonzalez, who was born in California, but lived in Tijuana, Mexico until the age of 13, says, “Since [Betsy and I] have been in baseball, we have been involved in several ministries such as Baseball Chapel and Unlimited Potential, Inc. (UPI). We put ourselves around people who will help us grow in our relationship with the Lord. Now I try to live [as He would have me to live] every day and to let others see my walk so others can come to Christ. Anytime I can share in public I try to take advantage of that as Christ would want me to do. I try to do what I can to lead others to Christ.”

    “It is cool to see a superstar stay humble”

    Pastor Miles McPherson of the church, The Rock in San Diego, where Gonzalez and his wife have attended, says, “Adrian has a strong foundation that runs deep and consistent with his commitment to Christ. His faith is unwavering, and he is very responsive when called upon to serve.”

    Brian Hommel from Unlimited Potential says, “Adrian does not allow the game to change who he really is. He does not allow the game to determine his significance in the world. He finds that in Christ. It is cool to see a superstar with his talent continue to stay humble. UPI goes on missionary trips to several countries to participate in clinics and share the gospel, and Adrian has been a part of some of these trips. He also has gone to orphanages to visit kids.”

    Kids are a big part of Gonzalez’s ministry

    Kids are a big part of Gonzalez’s ministry. Not only does he work with kids in clinics, but he and his brothers, David Jr. and Edgar, along with his parents, started the Gonzalez Baseball Academy to help instruct kids in proper mechanics and fundamentals of baseball. They also take the time to share their love for Christ.

    When asked how Christ has changed or shaped his life, Gonzalez said it has affected his life “in about every way, including being the best husband to my wife as possible and striving to be the best person I can be; also, in my attitude in baseball,” he adds. “It used to be if I went 0-4, I’d be mad; if I went 4 for 4, I’d be happy. Now it does not matter. Now it is in my attitude toward Christ. I read a golf book called ‘Seven Days at the Links of Utopia’ by David L. Cook. There is a line in it that I translate into baseball terms: ‘Success is not dictated in a box score, it is dictated by one’s attitude toward Christ that day.’”

    *Full name withheld at staff member's request.

    By freelance writers Mark E. Darnall & Bruce A. Darnall

    Photo Credit: Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres

  • Gifted Athletes; Gifted Individuals

    Sep 20, 2010

    Cocky. Brash. Overpaid. Immature. Prima donnas. Many of these words are often used to describe professional athletes and coaches alike today…yet we as a society immortalize them nonetheless.

    WE the general public, and the media are much to blame for the creation of their larger-than-life profiles. We make others wealthy by watching their reality TV shows, reading their Twitter accounts, and listening to their latest tabloid updates.  We attend their games, collect their memorabilia, seek their autographs, and covet their celebrity status. We, at times, seemingly live vicariously through them—all the while making them out to be some Greek god-like individuals.

    Now, I acknowledge that professional athletes possess God-given abilities to accomplish many feats that most only dream of. I admit that many have an unparalleled work ethic, and realize that they are entertainers. However, I am suggesting that in the process of idolizing them, we often diminish the other gifts and abilities that God has personally granted each of us:  some are great teachers and pastors, while others are gifted electricians and technicians, still others are decorated doctors, designers, cooks and construction workers, judges, plumbers and maintenance workers. Ephesians notes that each gift is intended to help, encourage and build others up—not one is better than the next—after all we need each other.

    Regardless of your lot in life, make the most of it. As Martin Luther King Jr. penned, “If you are called to be a street sweeper, sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

  • AIA Track Athlete Thrilled to Compete with Elite in Belgium this Summer

    Sep 10, 2010

    Matt Daniels at Oordegem (2)

    A senior at the University of Mississippi had the experience of a lifetime while competing on an Athletes in Action track team in Europe this summer.

    Matt Daniels was invited to run in a “USA vs. the world” 4X400 meter relay in a meet in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium along with three other USA elite athletes. The meet managers of the KBC “Night of Athletics” Meet invited Daniels to run in the race against top teams

    from Belgium, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic.

    “It was a great feeling to compete with some of the best athletes in America against some of the best athletes in the world,” Daniels says. “Our coach, Mike Crowhurst, helped me see how the AIA principles could help me maximize my ability physically, mentally, and spiritually to compete at the world-class level.”

    Daniels and his teammates, including LaRon Bennett and Donald Sanford, ran 3:02:95 to finish second to the Belgian “A” team. On the way Daniels ran a personal best 400 meter split of 46.03. “It was really great to represent our country, and then to find that most of my teammates were Christian athletes gave us the opportunity to lift up the Lord as well,” Daniels says.

    Following the meet, the team returned to their home base in Leuven and went out for a late dinner. While at the restaurant, Daniel’s race came on television and patrons of the rAIA Team Belgium (2)estaurant realized that he was the runner on TV. “I not only got to represent the USA for the first time, but I also go to see myself run in a televised meet, and that made for a really cool day,” Daniels added.

    The 12-member AIA track & field team competed in five meets during three weeks in Belgium this summer.

    Top photo:  Matt Daniels in 400 meter at Memorial Léon Buyle meet in Oordegem

    Bottom photo:  AIA European track & field team

    By Dr. Mike Crowhurst, affiliate staff coach, AIA track & field, Somerset, KY