Sports Fun After School Program Brings Joy For All Involved

Every Thursday throughout the semester, I have the privilege of connecting Lipscomb Student-Athletes with students from Carter Lawrence Elementary School for an afterschool program known as Sports Fun Club. There we spend time tutoring, building relationships and playing sports and games in the gym. I have been a part of this program for almost 4 semesters now, and I have seen so much wonderful and beneficial growth not only from the elementary school students, but also from our Lipscomb Athletes.

For the kids selected to be a part of Sports Fun Club, this is a great privilege. The elementary students love Lipscomb athletes and they strive to have good behavior during the week to ensure that they will be part of the roster when Thursday comes.

As a graduate assistant, I really enjoy bringing Lipscomb teams into this environment. The kids bring me so much life and joy and being able to see them every week really helps me build a special bond. My desire is that the college athletes would love and serve these kids well, knowing how important it is for them to be a role model.

One thing that is constant is that a lot has been learned and great friendships have formed this semester! It is insightful to hear perspectives from coaches and student-athletes on different teams what they have experienced at Sports Fun Club.

Student-Athlete and Coaches Reflections:

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“Our Lipscomb Men’s Basketball team has been serving at Carter Lawrence for 3 years now and it has made a positive impact on our players. It brings great joy to see our players love and serve these children well.

They are able to utilize their gifts and talents to help these children with their homework, play games with them, and to connect.

Lipscomb has created an environment of servanthood, being grateful for what we have, and glorifying God in the process. We love serving at Carter Lawrence and can’t wait to go back.”   – Coach Steve Draybn, Assistant Coach, Men’s Basketball

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“Carter Lawrence is set up to be a time where Lipscomb athletes get the opportunity to give back to our community. However, I believe many of us find the time spent there is more of the community pouring into us. For me, I often find myself busy with all the priorities of being a student-athlete. And while I’ve learned to manage my time well, I sometimes can’t help but be stressed with the world spinning around me. Going to Carter Lawrence is a time for me to throw off my selfishness, to do list, and schedules. Klotz and Johnny always encourage us to walk into those school doors with a heart ready to love and serve. And while I focus my mind on this attitude, the kids are the ones that serve me best. They allow me to be a kid again and give me an opportunity to not focus on running, school, and the world around me for an afternoon.

Most importantly they give me a picture of what the kingdom of God will be like someday.

It’s sure cool to see how God works in these types of ways.” –Ryan Speer, Men’s Cross Country and Track

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“My team started going to Carter Lawrence on Thursday afternoons during my sophomore year to help students with homework and then play with them in the gym.

Now, as a senior, going to Carter Lawrence is still one of my favorite Thursdays of the semester.

Seriously, I love hanging out with those kids. They are crazy, they are fun, they are sweet, they are loving, and honestly, they are just awesome. I’ve enjoyed Sports Fun so much that my SALT project this semester has been volunteering at Carter Lawrence twice a week with the school counselor. It’s easy to see poverty around Nashville and feel somewhat bad about it, but never really hurt or do anything. After spending time with the students during Sports Fun, my heart longs for a better future for them. I have fallen in love with their smiles and hilarious attitudes. What’s so great about Sports Fun is that we, college athletes, have a chance to come in and encourage kids to work hard in school and sports and attempt to give them a vision of what their future could be. Now, when I go to volunteer with the counselor, students will run up to me and ask what team is coming to Sports Fun that week. It is truly a highlight of their week as it is for us college athletes that go.”- Riley Northway, Women’s Basketball

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“It is a huge privilege to be able to hang out with the kids from Carter Lawrence.

Often times people think that you have to go to another country to do mission work that makes a difference, but that’s just not the case.

We have the opportunity to hangout with and love on kids right down the road from us. And even though we are supposed to help them out, I think we gain something just as good from it.” –Asa Duvall, Men’s Basketball

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“Sports fun is truly amazing!! The joy and excitement seen in those children during that time is so life-giving for everyone involved.

I remember being pretty nervous about interacting with kids the first time I went, but I quickly learned that all you have to do is show up; just bring your whole self and love fully!

Just your presence there helps them engage in their homework, and then have an absolute blast running around in utter chaos! Getting to love on those kids, and receiving their love in return is an incredible experience that is simply so much fun, and a little glimpse of heaven.” -Niamh Rawlins, Women’s Soccer

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“Carter-Lawrence is what I look forward to every week. I know as soon as I get there that for an hour and a half I won’t be able to stop smiling and laughing. I have grown close to two girls in the class. As soon as they enter the study room they run over to me grinning from ear to ear and leap into my arms.

This is a moment of pure bliss for me.

When we play later in the gym the two of them are attached at the hip to me; I love it. Piggy-back rides are a fan-favorite as well as bouncing around the gym on exercise balls. I love how my girls can take me back to a time where I had no care in the world, my childhood. Taking time to just be a kid again, carefree and full of joy, is fantastic. As our time concludes, I find myself sad to see them go. Ten or so hugs later we say or last goodbye and they always make me pinky-promise to come back the next week.

The time I take out of my week to go to Carter Lawrence in invaluable. As a first semester freshman from California I was afraid I wouldn’t find my niche. I was quite wrong. God has blessed me with the opportunity to invest in children at Carter-Lawrence. We always go in trying to make this the best part of their week, but in reality it has become the best part of my week. I am so thankful for this opportunity and truly see God moving in remarkable ways through the Carter Lawrence–Lipscomb relationship.”

-Pari Manoogian, Women’s Track

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Carter Lawrence provides many students with the unique opportunity to use the knowledge they have gained through education and life to impact and improve the lives of these insightful, eager children.

These kids have so much love to give and are so welcoming to anyone, it’s a great reminder of the ways the Lord works.

I enjoy every moment I get to be there with the kids. Many of the students are very focused on working hard and it is very motivating to see. However, my favorite moments are often the times I get to be a child too with them, being free and having fun, playing games with them and hearing them laugh always make my day better. Although I doubt they remember who I am, every time I visit there I am given so much light and warmth but most of all I am always humbled by their unlimited love they have to share.

Thank you to the students and teachers of Carter Lawrence, I am humbled by your freedom to love and determination to work hard. ”

Hannah Gamage, Women’s Tennis

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“My visit to Carter Lawrence was a very inspiring experience. My teammates and I got the chance to inspire younger kids and just have a good time with them. Not to often do I get a chance to play and run around like a kid again being a college student, but it really was fun. I feel we had a huge effect on their lives but they also had a huge effect on our lives as well.” – Ahsan Asadulluh, Men’s Basketball

 

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Story written and compiled by: Johnny Fredericks, Spiritual Formation Graduate Assistant