Playing with Purpose
I got really depressed my sophomore year of college because of my sport. I was always the kid who played soccer, but I wasn’t getting much playing time those first years. I had a lot of ups and downs, and things went south pretty quickly.
That first semester, I hated school, and I hated soccer. I lived for that one night a week in Athletes in Action meetings when I got to meet with people and was in a comfortable place. I wasn’t even there for the spiritual aspect at first as much as just feeling welcomed by nice people.
That winter, I attended the AIA Winter Retreat, and the speaker preached on Colossians 3, speaking about finding our identity in Christ and how we can throw all the bad stuff away from our old lives and put on our new life in Christ. That really hit me, and I began to see myself as a Christian, someone God loves, rather than just a soccer player. Though I had accepted Christ as my Savior as a child, I began growing more in my faith that semester.
That summer, I went to the Ultimate Training Camp and learned the principles about using my sport to glorify God. I was seeing now how to live those out, and I started to implement them when I got back to school. Learning about my motivation for sport – playing for an Audience of One – was big for me. When I am on the soccer field, I am not trying to prove myself or earn respect or have people see my name but to thank Christ for what He did for me on the cross. I would write AO1 on my body while I was playing and people would notice and ask me what it meant. Not only was it a tool for me to remember why I was playing, but it was also a tool to share with people on my team about my faith.
That’s the heart behind what I’m doing now, trying to reach as many people as I can on campus and around me. It was on a soccer tour in Central America that God confirmed that talking to people about the Gospel is what I’m supposed to be doing. Jesus changed my life so much and blessed me so much that I need to be out there sharing with as many people as I can.