One City, One God: Nashville FCA’s Gather as One

 

IMG_3370
Student Athletes from four universities gather as one large FCA group.

Last semester in early November,  four of the Nashville Area Division 1 Athletic programs with thriving FCA groups decided to come together for one night of fellowship and worship, and it was an incredible testimony to Jesus and how He unites people regardless of any divisions that our culture may try and set. For the evening, the “Battle of the Boulevard” turned into the “Unity of the Boulevard.”  Lipscomb and Belmont’s student athlete leadership teams from FCA reached out to Vanderbilt’s leadership team, and together decided it would be so cool to come together as “One City, lifting up One God.”

Shaun Dean, the Regional Director for Fellowship of Christian Athletes said,

“It was God’s vision coming alive! Seeing student athletes crush cultural barriers to worship King Jesus together, unified visibly by His Spirit, enjoying life as a family of faith proves to me that the one, true God is bringing a reawakening to Greater Nashville. Let it be Lord, Let it be!”

Following that November evening last semester, it was unanimous amongst all the colleges that we must continue to gather and meet as one, at least one time each semester, if not more during this spring semester.  Additionally we felt it was imperative to invite TSU and make sure they were apart of the evening gatherings as well.  So the planning began, and it was decided before the semester break that we would rotate campuses amongst the colleges as we gathered each time, beginning with meeting at Belmont next.

McCarly Thomas, a Lipscomb Softball player and FCA leader who helped lead this gathering shared that,

“God has completely blown past our expectations for this! There was something so powerful about standing next to our brothers and sisters in Christ who live such similar lives to that of our own, sharing our experiences, and so openly worshiping the same God together.”

Two weeks ago on February 16, it happened again.  The Nashville area of Fellowship of Christian Athletes from Lipscomb, Belmont, Tennessee State, and Vanderbilt University gathered as one body to praise Jesus at Belmont’s Curb Event Center. It was a night of light snacks, fellowship, and worship celebrating what God is doing in each our lives, on all of our college campuses, and uniting to support and encourage one another in our shared faith, in our shared athletics.

Dylan Green from our Lipscomb Men’s Basketball team, and Abby Newby from our Lipscomb Women’s Track & Field team shared this about their evening experience at Belmont,

“I was in awe of how many people from different universities went out of their way to attend the event. I was sure it would only be a handful of people. I was completely wrong. The room was completely filled. The Spirit was present, and I’m excited for the next opportunity for us to gather together in community as the body of Christ.”  – Dylan Green

 


“I was really pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to fellowship with athletes all over Nashville. Sometimes I find it hard to have meaningful conversation with students even from my own school, but when we all came together with a common goal, to glorify the Lord in all things, it was like we already knew so much about each other. And the Lord was definitely present.”  -Abby Newby

 

‘For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.’ (Matt. 18:20)

Incredible. These students are seeing that it’s bigger than them. That it is bigger than their team. That it is bigger than their school. That it is bigger than sports in general.  It’s all about Him.  

The city-wide FCA is something that all schools hope to continue and grow. No matter the differences in uniforms worn in competition, the ultimate common bond is a love for Jesus.

“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.  Psalm 33:1-3

 

#OneWayToPlay   
To learn more about FCA visit: https://www.fca.org/

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 10.44.39 AM

———————————-

Written By Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation

Follow Us:
Twitter: @LipscombFCA
Instagram: @LipscombBisonsSF
Facebook: Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation
Website: http://www.lipscombsports.com/spiritual-formation/

The Faces of Lipscomb Athletics: Frank Bennett

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 10.54.07 AM

There are few faces in the Lipscomb Athletic Department that could accurately be described as “Lipscomb Legends”. This can mean a lot of things, but in a place like Lipscomb, the term “legend” goes far beyond coaching records and championships. There are people who have helped make our athletic department what it is today. God-fearing men and women who are passionate and excellent in their field, but work for a greater purpose than championship rings. One of these men is Associate Athletic Director, Frank Bennett.

Frank Bennett bleeds purple through and through. When asked how long he had been at Lipscomb, he replied, “That’s a loaded question! The most you could say is, I started here in kindergarten in 1956 and never left. In 1980 is when I started coaching women’s basketball [at the university] and teaching math and computer science education. Before we went Division 1, coaches were also teachers here.”

Coach Bennett went on to coach the Lipscomb women’s basketball team for 32 years, until moving in to the Associate Athletic Director position in 2013. During his time as a coach, he had a .582 winning percentage, which ranked him 29th in the NCAA at the time out of all active Division 1 coaches in the country. His resume also includes a spot in the NAIA Hall of Fame, 2 NAIA National Coach of the Year awards, 3 conference Coach of the Year awards, a Tennessee Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year award, and, a Division 1 Independent Coach of the Year award.

These honors and awards showcase his success in his sport, but they only give a small glimpse of the impact that he has had on Lipscomb Athletics. When he was a coach, he says that he tried to speak Christ into the lives that he coached wherever he could, through example and by investing in the players as people- trying to develop each individual as a whole person.

In fact, his original coaching philosophy was from Colossians 3:17,

“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do everything for the Lord.”

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 10.53.43 AM

To go along with his coaching philosophy, Coach Bennett developed six Biblical foundations for the program: glory to God, humility, unity, team attitude, servant leadership, and relationships based on Biblical principles (go directly to the person if you have a problem, etc.). Over time, the staff developed numerous Scriptures that went with each principle and it became something that they would focus on as a team and give to recruits, as well. From helping players through major life crises to simply directing their minds toward Jesus with a daily Bible verse text, Coach Bennett intentionally built the program around the Lord.

Today, he plays a different role as the Associate Athletic Director. His goal, however is still the same. Coach Bennett now connects with players and coaches throughout the athletic department and seeks to be a source of encouragement to all people. He also has a huge role in many formative programs in the athletic department including the drug and alcohol training, sexual assault training, and the Habitudes program. He prays for multiple athletes through the 555 Prayer Card campaign and now leads a men’s coaches Bible study one morning a week. He is a primary source of wisdom and counsel for many coaches and staff. Outside of athletics, he also shepherds the Otter Creek Church of Christ as one of the elders.

Personally, when asked how he spends time focusing on his own Spiritual growth, Coach Bennett emphasized the importance of spending time in the Word. Since 1986, he has tried to read through the entire Bible every year.

“I think that spending time in the Word is particularly important in the morning. It’s important to take the time to arm yourself to start your day. I pray the Spiritual armor for myself at the start of days.”

When speaking to Coach Bennett, one amazing aspect of his character is his humility and inability to speak of his own accomplishments. However, anyone who knows him knows of the impact that he has had on Lipscomb and on countless players. The depth of his love for the people around him and for the Spiritual well-being of the athletic department is evident. He is a “Lipscomb Legend” because of the way he has allowed the Lord to use him in his roles here. At the end of the interview, his word of advice for Lipscomb athletes was this:

“Whatever you do, try to do it with all your heart. You may not see the value at the time, whether it’s tough conditioning or there are subjects or classes you take that aren’t necessarily interesting or fun, the best way to put yourself in a position to advance in anything you’re doing is to do a good job where you are now. If you’ve got a job you don’t like, try to do it the best you can. That way, you set yourself up to where it might be noticed and you get a much better opportunity. I would also advise athletes to get the most out of each practice and get the most out of the time with your teammates. The main thing you are going to remember after your career is over is the time with your teammates; whether it’s traveling or at meals, you are forming lifelong friendships.”

 

———————————

Written by Alex Newby, Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 8.35.59 AM

Follow Us:

Twitter: @LipscombFCA
Instagram: @LipscombBisonsSF
Facebook: Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation

Join The Team:
Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation is funded primarily through donations. If you would like to give, visit: https://secure.lipscomb.edu/gift (designate Athletics-University, and Athletics Spiritual Formation)  Thank you!

Growth in Injuries: Jewell Dobson

“My blessing is this. I know a God who gives hope to the hopeless. I know a God who loves the unlovable. I know a God who comforts the sorrowful. And I know a God who has planted this same power within me. Within all of us. And for this blessing, may our response always be, ‘Use me.’” -Scott Dannemiller

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 9.44.33 AM

Tearing my ACL my senior year brought all kinds of new challenges and lessons for me. I often heard stories of other athletes getting so wrapped up into their sport that when they couldn’t play anymore, they felt lost and confused because so much of their identity revolved around their sport. When I heard these stories, I could understand to a point because volleyball is such a huge part of my life. But I also thought…nah, that wouldn’t happen to me. I held a sense of confidence that there was so much more to me than volleyball, which is true. Nevertheless, I think that in a way, the success of my junior year changed that.

On a personal level, my junior year of college was my best year of college up to that point in so many ways. I was on cloud nine. Our team set many records in 2013. Although we did not reach our ultimate goal of an Atlantic Sun Conference Championship, our RPI ranking was beginning to creep up into the top rankings, and our name was on the rise. The records were flying higher and higher every week with top national rankings in kills per set, as well as several players setting records both in the conference and the nation. Athletically, I was reaching a point of potential I never expected. I was named 2013 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year, All-American Honorable Mention, and was sent with one of my teammates and best friends, Lauren Ford, to Colorado Springs to try out for the USA National Women’s volleyball team. Not only were my athletic accolades on the rise, but so was my overall confidence. I was happy with myself. Success surrounded me. I was enjoying the game that I loved and playing it with my best friends every day. I had a 4.0 GPA and my teachers loved me. Not only that, I felt that my spiritual life was thriving, too. I began to surround myself with positive people and experienced the amazing love of God by serving on a mission trip to Honduras over spring break.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 9.50.17 AM

My time in Honduras was one that I will never forget. The group consisted of several Lipscomb students and was led by members of Hillsboro Church of Christ who are also a part of a college ministry group called “4:12.” It was through this trip that I realized the power of God’s love and its presence inside each person. Our mission group is partnered with a church in the city of Mateo, and works to build much needed houses for families in Honduras who have already given so much to the church. By serving the people there, I realized God’s ability to work through people, including myself. I fully believe that God worked through all of the people involved in that mission trip.

I learned that the blessings from God weren’t the physical houses that we built, but rather the love that we showed and experienced through our service. We became the hands and feet of Jesus, and we were the ones bringing God’s love and manifesting God’s blessings for others.

I believe that God was showing Himself to me in so many ways through that trip, specifically revealing to me the greater purpose that exists for all people: to love. I fully believe that God created me and everyone else on this earth to bless the suffering people around us and to show God’s love to all.

Spiritually, I was content during my junior year. What reason did I have not to be? God seemed to be doing amazing things in my life at that time. Along with this, I blossomed socially, becoming more comfortable in myself and finding it easier and easier to make new friends. People all over campus knew who I was. I was Jewell Dobson. I was on the volleyball team. I felt accomplished, comfortable, and loved.

The only thing missing at that point? Another conference tournament trophy, a few more banners, and another trip to the NCAA tournament.

With this new confidence, I went into my senior year with a sense of determination. This was the year. This was my final chance to leave Lipscomb Volleyball with one more conference championship. This sense of confidence and determination was evident not only in me, but the entire 2014 team as we took down the 22nd ranked Kansas University team in our first preseason tournament of the season. I distinctly remember my feelings of excitement and determination for the upcoming season rising even more as the team took a “winners’ selfie” on Jenny Phelan’s phone after the game.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 9.42.13 AM

This was going to be the year.

This phrase echoed in my head as I was playing the next weekend against Mizzou. I remember playing my heart out that game, and after we lost the first set, my competitiveness was at a high. Energy surged through my body the entire game. I was going after everything…

absolutely everything…

…including a ball that was a little too tight to the net.

I don’t even remember if I ended up getting that tight ball. The only thing I remember is coming down and feeling a sudden and distinct pop in my left knee and the most painful burning sensation I’ve ever felt. All I could do was fall, drag myself off of the court, and bang my fist onto the wooden floor in an attempt to release the intense burning pain I felt in my leg. After about thirty seconds, all pain was gone and all I could do was roll over and cry because I knew. Somehow I knew what just happened.

I tore my ACL.

I sobbed. I had no idea or concern for what was going on around me. All I could think was, this was it. This was the year. I was going to do it. We were going to do it. We were going to win it all. And now it’s over.

Not only that, at the time, I thought that this meant I’d never play competitive volleyball again. I was blind-sighted. I had this perfect idea in my head of how great my senior year was going to be, and in the blink of an eye, it all seemed as if it were taken away. Gone.

With these thoughts came more emotion, more sobbing, and more shaking. I simply could not believe what was happening. The next thing I remember in the midst of all of my emotions was our trainer, Kelsey Ferguson, running over to check me out, and my coach, Brandon Rosenthal, running over to me and grabbing my hand. Still shaking with emotion, my immediate reaction was to squeeze his hand as tight as I could.

But as he looked me in the eyes and told me that everything was going to be alright and that we would get through this together, I immediately felt a sense of calm come over me. I felt supported, loved, and not alone, and because of this, I was suddenly at peace.

I released my tight grip from his hand, took a deep breath, and walked off the court with two of my biggest supporters helping me. I wiped my tears, and cheered on my team the rest of the way, while my assistant coach, Billy Ebel kept me smiling on the bench.

The 2014 team was one of the best teams I’ve been a part of throughout my time at Lipscomb. We made huge steps for Lipscomb Volleyball that year. Despite our loss in the 2014 conference championship, we received our first ever at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. I’ll never forget explosive cheers that came from Brandon’s living room the night our name popped up on the screen as part of the NCAA selection show.

 

I ended up making that senior year a red-shirt year so that I could have another chance at a second senior year in 2015. Those two years are filled with countless stories. Unlike my junior year, there were times during those two years when it was extremely difficult to see God and be content in Him.

Although I thought I never would, I did experience times where I struggled with my identity. It was difficult to go from such a year of success to a year where nothing seemed to come easy. I didn’t always feel like the cheerful and accomplished volleyball player Jewell that everyone once knew and loved. At times, my confidence dropped, and I was not completely comfortable in myself.

It may sound dramatic, but many competitive athletes who love their sport will tell you that their sport really does make up a huge part of who they are. So when I temporarily lost my ability to play, it truly felt as if I lost a piece of myself.

I could go on and on about how hard it was sometimes. I could narrate the many struggles of rehab, or the moments I thought I would never play volleyball like I used to, or the days I found it so difficult to stay positive. I could also retell some of the awesome victories we had in 2015, like our win against Utah, or the amazing trips we took all over the country. And I could definitely tell the story of finally winning the conference tournament, getting the trophies, and hanging the banners during my second-chance senior year.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 9.51.05 AM

But I think that there is something much bigger at work in this story.

Just like those houses in Honduras, it wasn’t the victories or trophies or banners that were the blessings of those years. The blessings came from the people around me.

While the painful memories will hopefully fade with time, it was the moments like the one I experienced with my coach on Mizzou’s court—the moments where I felt the love of God that was so vividly revealed to me the year before—that will always stay with me and that I will always long to share.

The difference was that during my senior year, I was on the receiving end. Instead of being the hands and feet of Jesus for others, so many other people had stepped into my time of struggle to be the hands, support, and love of God when I needed it.

It was through countless words of encouragement that I read in a bag of full of letters from various members of the Lipscomb community. It was through my parents’ arms as they hugged me while I cried days before my surgery. It was through my sister making me laugh on the day of my surgery. It was through the never-wavering belief that my coaches always, always, always had in me. It was through the healing hands of a very special athletic trainer who would wake up before the sun with me, just to work with my packed student teaching schedule. It was through friends that let me vent, or cry, or simply talk with them late at night in their car. It was through my amazing teammates and best friends who I can never speak enough of—the ones who always have my back, who are always in my corner, and who always make any and every hard day worth it because I would never want to win or lose next to anyone else.

It was through all of these people that I was blessed by God and was given hope for something so much bigger than myself. It is these blessings for which I am always grateful.  And it is God’s love, constantly shown through others, that always reminds me of the one part of my identity that, no matter what, I can never lose:

 His ability to use me.

——————–

Written By Jewell Dobson, Lipscomb Volleyball

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 10.34.26 AM

Marcus Evans: Why I Coach…


Track coach, Marcus Evans, has been in the track world for a while and at Lipscomb for five years now. Why does he do it? In his own words,

“this is why I coach…”

Family

Growing up I was always around sports. My Father worked at an imprisonment alternative for juveniles called the Arizona Boys Ranch, where he coached basketball. During this time I got to watch my dad engage with young people whom many in society had written off as thugs and criminals. Watching my father give his athletes all he had and the impact athletics had on each athlete’s life always stuck with me. When I grew older I got to sit with my father as be broke down video for Chandler High School. The analytical side of coaching was something that was fun and something I felt I had a niche for. During college I knew I wanted to coach and felt it would be a great way to continue a family legacy of building leaders like my father had done. Now when I call to talk to my father on the phone he greets me with “Hey Coach Evans”, which for me is a source of pride. Him calling me coach shows me he respects and understands my profession and is happy I find joy in a profession he finds joy in as well.

Faith

The reason I coach is also derived from two verses I try to live by.

“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith”
Hebrews 13:7.
“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in everyday, as it holds promise for present life and also for the life to come.”
1 Timothy 4:8

I have been fortunate enough to have to some amazing coaches over my years in athletics. Many of these coaches were great men of faith, fathers, and husbands. They say the best form of flattery is imitation, I am simply working toward being the best man of faith, husband, and future father I can be taking cues from the men who led me. Imitating the coaches I have had helps me to be the best example I can be for my athletes. For me coaching is not as much about how fast or far I can get my student-athletes to improve, but brining up productive citizens, great husbands and wives, and followers of christ. My student-athletes will most likely only train for about four years, but I carry a bigger responsibility of preparing them for the years after athletics.

1978425_693151017393190_4833176718590403327_o

Coach Marcus Evans is an outstanding coach and an even better man. His athletes have all benefited in countless ways from his wisdom, heart, and infectious attitude. We are proud to call him a part of our team.

To learn more about the news and events happening with Lipscomb Track & Field, check out their website:  Lipscomb University Track & Field

———————————————————————-

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 8.35.59 AM

Written by Alex Newby, Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation

Follow us on:

Twitter:@LipscombFCA
Instagram: @LipscombbisonsSF
Facebook: Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation
Lipscomb Website: http://www.lipscombsports.com/spiritual-formation/

Dawson Armstrong: Using the Platform of Golf to Glorify Christ

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 11.42.23 AM

Lipscomb golfer, sophomore Dawson Armstrong, has experienced more athletic success in his year and half of collegiate golf than most athletes experience in a lifetime. Currently ranked 25th as an amateur golfer in the world, Armstrong has a long list of accomplishments to his name. Among those are his first place finishes in the Dogwood Invitational, the Memphis Intercollegiate, and the prestigious Western Amateur.

Most recently, however, he travelled to Melbourne, Australia to compete in the Australian Master of the Amateurs against some of the best amateur golfers in the world.

We got a chance to catch up with Dawson upon his return and hear a little bit about the experience and, most importantly, how he has seen God working in his life through his whirlwind of experiences and successes as a golfer.

CH110728

Question: How did you see God during your trip to Australia?

Dawson: To see a completely different world really changes your perspective on how God works.  Seeing that I can be in a plane for 21 hours and still not even go halfway across the globe is hard to grasp.  God really showed up in places where I did not exactly expect.  I saw God in the beaches, sure, but it was more of the little things for me like seeing flocks of parrots, seeing the diversity of people, and the love that the Australians show to people that they have no affiliation with.

Question: As a golfer, how did this specific tournament and experience impact you?

Dawson: This is a question that I have really focused on.  I learned very quickly the importance of patience.  I had to be ok with processing things correctly, yet the result not being good in the end.  This all really got under my skin, but once the tournament was over I looked back and saw this as the biggest lesson I learned from the entire trip.

Question: How did this specific trip and tournament impact you as a Christian?

Dawson: This trip showed me that there is a lot more than simply Nashville, Tennessee.  I met people that had no idea of what God and Christianity is all about.  The only real Christian affiliation in all of Melbourne was Hillsong Church in downtown Melbourne.  To see so little Christianity in the people helped me to notice that me living my life out as a Christian and telling others about Christ is my main job, and we as Christians have a long way to go in order to truly reach out to all ends of the world.

Question: You are currently #25 in the world and are well-known and respected in the golf world. How do you hope to take this platform and use it to glorify God/point others’ eyes to Him when they see or think of you?

Dawson: I hope to use this honor as a platform to show others of God’s love for the world.  This is quite the task knowing that most people that I come in contact with are either already Christians or want nothing to do with Christianity.  I always try, though, to make the name of Christ known to everyone I come in contact with.  To have a higher respect by my peers is a blessing because it lets me show them, however it may be, that I did not get where I am without God’s intervention and great love.

ASCO_191
2015 Western Amateur at Rich Harvest Farms on Saturday August 8, 2015. Charles Cherney Photography

 

To follow Lipscomb Men’s Golf: http://www.lipscombsports.com/mgolf/
Twitter: @LipscombMGolf
Coach Will Brewer Twitter: @WillBrewer6

————————

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 8.35.59 AM

Written By: Alex Newby, Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation

Follow us:
Twitter: @Lipscomb FCA
Instagram: @LipscombbisonsSF
Facebook: Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation