Dependence on God
I grew up in a common American household and went to church every Sunday with my mom. I lived a cookie-cutter lifestyle and wasn’t challenged that much in my faith. I really came to know Christ through my football experience.
I played soccer in high school and didn’t start kicking footballs until halfway through my junior year. In May after I graduated, I got a call from the special teams coach at Cal offering me a start as a walk-on kicker. There were other kickers they could have used, so I saw that as God having His hand in getting me to Cal.
“There is so much more to the game”
I started the first game on kickoffs because I was fresh, and after the second practice they told me they were putting me in first. It was such a blessing, but I am not sure I was ready for it at all. There is so much more to the game at the Division 1 level, so much emotion. A few games later our kicker got hurt and I started doing the field goals as well, which added a whole new kind of pressure to the games.
I had a pretty good year, but I was so tied into football. If I had a good practice, I’d be all happy, and if I had a bad practice, I’d be in a bad mood. I was talking to a friend from high school who was involved in Athletes in Action and she told me that when we’re out on the field, we’re glorifying God with our talent. I started realizing that I was really playing for an Audience of One: God. I started going to AIA and learning more. I decided to really give my life to Christ soon after.
I started turning more and more to God to make it through the struggles, and I felt He put them in my life to draw me closer to Him. During my junior year I was able to get a scholarship and earn the starting job as kicker. I started being more successful on the field, and God was placing more blessings on my life. But I was challenged at the end of that season in a different way.
“I felt I could really trust God”
We were playing Oregon and I lined up for a 24-yard field goal, but I jumped just before the snap, and they called a penalty and I had to re-kick it. That time, I missed it. There were 15 minutes left in the game and we ended up losing by only a few points. I got a lot of flack for that and I really got angry, but I felt bad for my team because I felt I let them down. I think God put that situation in my life to help me depend on Him. I felt I could really trust God in that situation. It’s not all about my football skills on the field.
One of the things I’ve really embraced is dependence on God. That takes the pressure off me. Whatever happens on the field is going to happen. But if I trust in God, I will never be disappointed. What I’ve learned has made me into a better person, and I have drawn closer to God. My purpose here is not just football. I have the confidence that He can get me through things as long as I don’t trust in my own capabilities.