What a semester and year it has been! We have continued our partnership with Carter Lawrence Elementary after-school sports program with our Lipscomb Athletic teams; we have gone on multiple mission trips; we have grown in community through FCA, Bible studies, and mentoring; and we have seen over 7 student-athletes baptized this spring! Praise Jesus – we are thankful He is about a transformational relationship and uniquely meeting us each where we are!
Click on the link to see our Athletics Spiritual Formation Spring Semester Recap in full: SF SPRING 2017 recap
This summer we are sending multiple teams on mission trips, if you would like to be part of the ‘sending’ team, please join us in praying! Additionally, if you would like to give a financial donation, please click this link: https://www.lipscomb.edu/giving/loose-giving-forms/student-mission-gifts (please note what team, or student-athlete you are desiring to gift).
Lipscomb Teams Going:
Volleyball – Malawi Africa
Women’s Golf- Nicaragua
Softball – Baja City of Children
If you would like to contribute a gift to Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation, that can also be done, and is greatly appreciated! Our entire Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation budget and salaries are fundraised; if you would like to give a gift to this program, please click this link: https://www.lipscomb.edu/gift (select area ‘Athletics-University’ and then designate ‘Athletics Spiritual Formation’).
In advance, THANK YOU!! We are so grateful for the opportunity to share with you the stories that God is writing in and through Lipscomb Athletics. Thank you for partnering with us in prayer, gifts, and support … You are giving to the Lord, and He is changing lives!!! Praise Jesus!
After my second year coaching, I vividly remember sitting myself down to find the answer to this question. Why do I coach? I couldn’t easily answer that question at the time, nor had I put much thought into it. The simple answer was that I loved softball and I loved to teach, but I needed a deeper reason. I was at a crossroad of sorts, in that I recognized I had a path to choose. I could either view my players as a means to a professional end or I could view them as young women who needed someone to see more in them than they could in themselves. I could coach simply for where it would get me or I could coach for something more important.
I decided that God had given me coaching as a means for me to make a difference in His world.
With every year that passes, I recognize the great need and the great opportunity I have to make a lasting impact upon another person. I still believe that God put me on this path to bring light. The world of sports is vibrant, exciting, challenging, and uplifting. Athletes learn discipline, hard work, and the thrill of overcoming what they thought impossible. There is so much good in this world! Yet, I see the dark side of this world, too. I see the lies Satan tells. I see the celebration of self over all. I watch as athletes buy into the lie that in order to be strong and independent, they cannot cry or that acknowledging weakness is embarrassing. They crave confidence. They crave assurance. But the world of competition never offers these things, at least not in a lasting way. I watch and hope they ask, so I can help set the record straight. I wait until they are ready to know a better way.
As someone with a degree centered around sport psychology, I am all about trusting the process. I had to choose the process. I had to trust that coaching the whole person would produce better results than only coaching the athlete.
In the process of finding my “why,” I realized that I could not claim Christ but coach for me. If He is everything, I had to let Him have everything. I could not coach as if the most important thing is winning, especially if it’s not.
So I coach process, and hope that I can teach my girls that the process, their mindset, and their perspective can change their outcome.
The older I get, the more I learn about myself and others. I have learned about fear and desire. I have learned about joy and disappointment. I have learned that we all have gifts inside of us that are meant to be used for the good of the kingdom of God.
I have learned that Christ will shine out of me when I use my gift for Him. I have realized we all truly want a purpose, to be part of something bigger than ourselves: a team. I get to be on God’s team. I live out a metaphor of life every day at work.
Every part of the game mirrors real life. I get to teach that to my players. I get the chance to help them develop skills that will impact their lives forever. I coach for that. I coach because I have an automatic platform, and God gave me the gift of teaching. So, I teach. Birds fly. Teachers teach. I bring my talents to Him, and He is teaching me to use them.
I have the chance to make a difference, maybe small, maybe big, but I have the chance. Isn’t a chance all we really want?
And when I get a little lost in the haze, I remember this: “We were made to respond to inspiration. Everybody wears an unseen sign that reads, “Inspire me.” Remind me that my life matters. Call me to be my best self. Appeal to whatever in me is most noble and honorable. Don’t let me go down the path of least resistance.” –John Ortberg
Join the Team:
God calls both “goers” and “senders” to His roster to be vessels for His Kingdom work to be done. The Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation team, and all the mission trips the teams go on are supported through fundraising. If you would like to be part of what God is doing through Lipscomb Athletics, and be part of the “sending” team; this is the link to gift funds to Lipscomb Athletics: https://secure.lipscomb.edu/gift (Designate Area “Athletics-University” and then designate “Athletics Spiritual Formation,” or “team of your choice,” or in special instructions box, type in “athletic mission trip- the team you would like to fund, and if applicable, the name of the specific student athlete”).
Thanks so much for being part of the stories of our team, and witnessing what God is doing through the platform of sport.
Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation Team
Coming into Lipscomb as a bright eyed freshman, I felt like I could conquer the world. I had finally made it. My one dream I have pursued since I was ten, to play and pitch Division 1 softball. I have wanted this dream for so long that after I verbally committed in my junior year of high school, teammates and their families that I grew up playing with told me they have known I would get here for as long as they have known me. As most elite athletes can empathize with, I missed a lot birthday parties, football games, homecomings and prom for softball, but I never thought twice about it because softball was who I was and who I wanted to be.
Freshman year fall-ball was good to start off. For the most part everyone gets an opportunity to play so the coaches can see how people play in game situations while trying various positions and defenses. As fall-ball passed and season got closer it became more apparent that I would be a relief pitcher. We had seven seniors that year and two were pitchers while the third pitcher was a returner who had a great year the year before. When season came around I got to throw two innings in our second tournament of the year and then for the rest of our 55 game season I did not see the field.
For as long as I could remember I have always been, “Taylor, the softball player.”
I worked hard to be one of the best on the field all of my life, and all of a sudden working hard lead me to hanging out in the dugout for an entire season. That year was a huge struggle for me. I thought because I wasn’t good enough to play, people and other athletes were going to think I didn’t belong on the team because I didn’t play; so I went on believing I was a fraud.
Fast forward to the start of my sophomore year I was super excited for the season. Two pitchers just graduated, I played ball all summer and worked my butt off; this was my year. In my mind if I was going to make an impact for this team and it very much felt like a now or never kind of pressure. I killed the beginning of the year workouts, but nearing the end of September something felt off when I was pitching. My control was all over the place and I was slowly losing mph’s. It felt hard to explain to my coach, but when I would release my pitches the release point never felt consistent.
Also at the start of sophomore year the other sophomore softball players and I started going to FCA every week. After seeing the athletes who also went to FCA every week and this relationship they have with God, I started to feel like I wanted that relationship too. After my realization, Ethos (the church I attend in Nashville) had a baptism Sunday where anyone can be baptized. While we were watching these people devote themselves to their Savior all I could feel was a tugging in my heart. It was like this is what God wanted for me, but I didn’t know what it meant. I later was connected with Shannon O’Brien and after talking with her for a while and hearing her testimony I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My parents were coming into town that weekend for games and the timing was perfect, so I was baptized on October 4th at seven in the morning and then headed to the field for a double header.
Pitching still didn’t feel right and finally on Halloween during morning weights I felt a pop as I went to lift a kettle bell over my head. After class I went down to see my athletic trainer to have her check it out. I was “banned” from playing for the rest of the week and was going to go see the doctor (the four days felt like an eternity). After about three appointments, multiple x-rays, MRI’s, steroid packs and physical therapy appointments I was finally given a diagnosis in December. With the diagnosis I was also given a surgery date. Turns out while I was overhead lifting my growth plate broke into my rotator cuff, which then caused one of two tears in my rotator cuff from rubbing whenever I moved my arm, the back of my labrum was shredded (10 anchors later..) and my capsule was too loose. When a doctor who works with a professional football team comments that it is the worst shoulder he has every worked on, you know it’s real.
I was devastated. There went softball. There went my year.
I had the surgery in the beginning of January and sat in the dugout for yet another season. But this time it was different.
During this season where my identity of softball was stripped away from me, God was giving me a channel for my identity to become in Him.
For months I had a hard time praying for my own recovery because softball and my faith still felt like they were in separate boxes and I felt like I couldn’t get my hopes up. At the time it was like if I started to hope, I would only feel worse because recovery is a slow grueling process. And then during a devo I ran across my now favorite verse,
Romans 12:12. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.
There is no other verse that could help me anymore perfectly in my recovery. I learned that I could be joyful in hope and celebrate my stepping stones of recovery. I had to be remind myself daily to patient because there were definitely some days where it felt like I would never be able to lift my arm again. God’s timing is perfect. And lastly to be faithful in prayer, to learn that I can come to Him with everything and anything at any time was huge in my faith walk. Now that I felt like I could hope, it finally felt like I could pray for my recovery and pray that if it was in God’s will for me to throw a softball again or throw in games it would be for His glory.
Around the time I was figuring all of this out I was reading R.A. Dickey’s book, Wherever I Wind Up, while he was talking with the Rangers when he officially became a full time knuckleballer. He said he left his meeting and was reminded of Romans 5:3-4.
We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” R.A. Dickey then went on to say, “Hope is good. Long-term hope is even better.”
I had just found my long term hope and he was right, I finally felt whole and I couldn’t even pick up a softball.
God’s timing is perfect. He found me where I was and used my situation to help me find Him for a relationship and a faith that will last for the rest of my life.
Through my injury I found God and an eternal kingdom.
While I would never wish major shoulder surgery on anyone, I would not change what I have gone and grown through these past three and a half years.
It took 695 days, two surgeries, so many tears, endless prayers, and a grown faith to get back on the field, and I can tell you two things for certain: it was definitely a journey, and God is SO good.
I got the itch my freshman year of college playing for Hall of Fame coach C Vivian Stringer. She didn’t just coach, she taught us the game. I would watch film with her when we traveled, tell her when I saw adjustments and many times be put in my place since I was the player (lol).
By my junior year she allowed me to introduce plays to my teammates and they would grill me as much as they could- but I was prepared. Finally my senior year was over, and I decided I wanted to coach. I had a teammate that wanted to go overseas and tryout for the WNBA, so I worked her out everyday after the season until we graduated in May. Eleven years ago this season I found my purpose; after several coaching interviews, I landed my first D1 coaching job at UTSA.
My college coach instilled in us to never settle for crumbs. To be confident and strong women, and that we could do anything. I have felt that way ever since the day I left Rutgers campus. I coach to instill those same values in every young woman that I come across. Not that they can just chase their dreams but that they can make them a reality.
To watch a young girl come in as a freshman and to see her grow mentally, physically and spiritually into a young woman ready for the world is why I coach.
I truly believe with passion, love, grace, discipline, hard work and sacrifice – anything is possible. I hope and pray they know that as well!
Prior to my graduation at UCLA, if you were to tell me that I would make coaching my career, I would have looked at you like you had a third eye! My desire to be a coach did not stem until after my first year of being an assistant at a small private school in the heart of Los Angeles. After the conclusion of that season, there was no doubt that I wanted to make coaching my career.
It’s funny, I’m in my 13th year of coaching and my reasons for why I coach have transformed over the course of the years. One reason has remained the same though, I coach because I know the impact my JV high school coach had on me. He was instrumental in my success coming out of high school and was dedicated into pushing me both academically and athletically. He challenged me daily and used basketball to reach and relate to me.
Fast forward to today, I coach because I love this game! I want to give back to a game that has given so much to me.
I coach because I have the ability to mentor young women daily, both athletically and spiritually. I believe God has given me the platform to teach through basketball.
And, while I enjoy the technical side of basketball and teaching players the x’s and o’s, I love forming lifelong relationships. I coached high school basketball for 7 years and I still communicate with all of them. My players now live in all parts of the world and the irreplaceable feeling to get a text from one of them that they are coming to support me and my team at a game, reminds me why I coach.
I coach to see players transform from innocent young women into confident women. I coach because I love motivating others to do things they otherwise think they cannot do. I love to see their maturation over the course of the years and enjoy watching them grow, both on and off the court and I know my role as their coach is important in helping to accomplish that.
There are so many reasons why I coach, but these are just some of the most important reasons I do!
God has taught me the gift of being on a team! I had 12 teammates and for me it was special to think that Jesus had 12 disciples. Spending time with my teammates off the court made me realize what it was probably like for Jesus to constantly be with his 12. I have learned from my teammates, but been inspired by the Lipscomb volleyball staff! Pre game locker room speeches by Brandon, dance parties with Billy as the MC, warming up Peppering with Justin Beachy. Inspiring videos from MJ!
God showed me how to have fun playing the sport I have grown up playing.
The staff developed their relationships with us that made it a healthy environment for everyone. We became a family fast because we spent so much time together in community!
After my first season of college volleyball, I can say I learned more than I ever expected. God taught me things about volleyball, my school, my teammates, myself, and my faith this season. Looking back, I see how God played a part in all of these things. Personally, this season was something completely new. I wasn’t sure of exactly what it would be like.
In the beginning, I was nervous at times, but grew to trust in my coaches, teammates, and God.
Several struggles occurred for the team early on in the season, with some difficult losses, but we took a step back and decided to just have fun playing the game we love. Although these times were heartbreaking and difficult, I now see what God’s plan was. He placed us in struggle in order to find strength in each other, ultimately making us ready for success. We were constantly reminded of our many blessings, and volleyball was just a piece of our happiness, not all of it. The support from the Lipscomb community is among these blessings, and the team is in the position it is because of these people that God placed in our lives. I realized that I am lucky to attend a university and be on a team that keeps faith as a priority. I believe God has a plan for every person, and I am grateful that He made Lipscomb a part of mine.
When I reported for training camp in mid-august, I had some mixed emotions. I was excited to be back with the team and get the season rolling. I had just wrapped up probably one of my best summers of training and ended freshman year as the ASUN 800m champion. However, from all this success, I seem to also place emotions of high expectations that also come with nerves and anxieties.
As the season progressed, these anxieties started to come into others areas of my life like school-work and relationships with teammates. Everyday I woke up, I felt like I had to control these anxious thoughts. I would pray over them and it would work for a particular race, test, or confrontation with someone, but they seemed to come back the next morning. Fighting with anxieties, expectations and nerves is normal for most athletes. On one level it shows how much you care about your sport, school work, and relationships. On another level, it reveals to you where you place your identity.
This semester I’ve learned that I need to constantly be placing my identity in Christ, because one day we’re going to wake up and realize that running, school work, and relationships go away, but Christ will always be there for us.
Two passages of scripture that this semester have seemed to bring light to this subject are Hebrews 12:1-2a and Philippians 4:4-9
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. – Hebrews 12:1-2a
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:4-9
A typical prayer I like to say before a race goes something like:
“Lord, Give me strength in my legs and mind. Help me to be a servant for today, looking for ways to help out others. Keep me reminded that whatever the outcome is, my victory has already been won in You. Because of your goodness and grace, I get to race!”
The more we focus our efforts on keeping God at the forefront of our lives, I believe we will be able to walk through life knowing that whatever anxious thoughts come our way, we can rest assure that through God’s goodness, we will be taken care of.
This past year GOD has been showing me how to live a life of worship and be in his presence constantly. I used to think that “worship” was just a thing one does at the beginning of a church service on a Sunday, but boy was I wrong. A life of worship starts with the smallest of detail, starting from just thanking him for another day of life to soccer to loving people around you. Living a life for his glory and constantly thanking him for his goodness has transformed me from the inside out. I’m beyond thankful for what Jesus has done in my life and how he continues to transform my inner man day in and day out! God is so good! – “Buddy” Jonathon Ramirez
One thing that God has taught me through soccer this year is to surrender the “little” control I thought I had and be content with what I’ve been given. Over the past four years, a lot my days have often been dictated by my performance and play. When I have a bad game/practice, I ended up letting that dictate the rest of my day. However, this one year is the year where I didn’t let that affect me. This year when things didn’t go my way, I didn’t let it get to me and I went to the next thing I had to do. It’s funny to because this has been my best year at Lipscomb. Also, I ended up have a much more enjoyable time playing with my teammates and developed even better relationships with every single one of our coaches. To sum it all up, I have found/realized that we are not made to control every aspect of our lives and need to trust in the process that God has provided. – Scout Monteith
God instills interests, talents and passions in all of us. It’s kind of a win win for everyone because we all get to enjoy things that we are good at doing and God gets to use these areas to teach us and mold us into who He so badly wants us to be. In my life, the platform that God has been able to use the past nine years has been running.
I have failed, succeeded, and most importantly learned to love equally, live whimsically, and act courageously throughout my years as a runner. This past summer I felt led by God to make this cross-country season my last season of competitive running in order to focus on other specific areas in my life. With that in mind, these past 6 months of training, racing and teammate shenanigans have provided me with lessons different than any from the past nine years.
God taught me the importance of being at peace. Peace is a concept that I am quick to overlook or deem as less important than other values. There is the kind of peace that comes through lounging in a hot tub, placed in the middle of a forest on a chilled winter day with nothing to see but a fresh layer of snow for miles, there is the kind of peace that comes in little candy form and tastes like a peanut butter-chocolate heaven, and then there is the type of peace that is rooted deeper than whatever circumstance you find yourself in, good or bad. That last type of peace is the kind that I was fortunate enough to learn and experience over the course of this cross- country season.
Whether it was learning how to dance in the back of a Tour Bus on a seven hour ride to South Carolina or embracing my teammates with delirious hugs right after we raced our hearts and guts out together; with every memory I gained, the decision to not be a part of the team next year became more difficult to come to terms with. But I was still at peace through the confusion and second-guessing. My freshmen teammates instantly became some of my closest friends on the team but even though it hurt to think about leaving them as quickly as I got to know them, there was a peace that was stronger. This season arguably turned in to my favorite and most successful season of running ever, and even though I became curious of the unknown amounts of success I could possibly achieve in the seasons to come, God ’s peace lead me down a different path.
While meeting first with my coaches and next with my teammates that same evening, emotion weighed heavy on my heart as I choked up the words “I will no longer be running.”
Doubt began to creep in my mind, making me second guess a decision I had spent the past six months thinking and praying about. Even now, three days after the fact, there is a pressing sadness and bitter sting that comes along with the thought of never toeing the line with my teammates again; never being their teammate again.
I guess the reason I am sharing this sob story is to show just how much stronger and hopeful this God-given peace is. It is amazing that in the midst of pain, sadness and confusion, there is something rooted deeper that is continuing to drive me in a different direction. Although there is pain in letting go, there is comfort in moving forward. This decision has and will continue to take a lot of trust.
But when I think about it, this is what I want my relationship with God to always look like. I want to always be in positions where I have to trust Him because that means I am living in an active and obedient relationship with God.
And although trusting God sometimes means doing the scariest thing we could possibly imagine, we get to have peace knowing that this omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent being that we get to call Father, will not abandon us.
Part of the reason why I am choosing to stop running is to spend more time getting plugged in to my church and knowing God.
There is a difference between knowing about God, and knowing God; and I believe that the more I know Him, the more I will be able to not only recognize this peace in my life, but His presence in its entirety.
Even now I am learning to cope with the fact that I cannot and will never be perfect, but this doesn’t keep God from wanting me to know and understand His presence. Through lies of the enemy, I am the only thing that gets in the way of knowing God’s peace, His love, His voice and everything else about His presence. This season I learned that when God is telling me do to something, no matter how mind-bogglingly difficult or confusing, there will be a peace that comes along with it. A peace that is stronger than any doubt or any pain.Thank you Father for making me aware of your peace and allowing it to give me the courage I need to follow your greater plan.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” -Colossians 3:15
What has God taught you through your sport this season?
Believe. Seven letters. Such a simple word with so much meaning. This word has absolutely transformed my life and has opened my eyes to what I’ve been missing all along.
God has used the game of soccer as a tool and a bridge to ultimately teach me the purpose of my life. I’ve been a deep thinker for as long as I can remember; constantly questioning why and how things happen. We live in a world where pain, sadness and grief are present and evident every second of every day. However, this same world somehow has the ability to emit joy and love, which have been proven to heal the broken hearts of those all around us. How could these two extremes coincide realistically in the same world? I could not wrap my mind around the idea of life, and it felt like absolutely nothing made sense. So, since day one here at Lipscomb, I’ve been on the search for answers. I grew up in the Catholic Church with the idea of God, but did not actually know God for myself. Seeing so many people at Lipscomb with this unexplainable sense of fullness and joy first took me by surprise, and I could not pinpoint specifically what it was about them that became the source of my envy. I knew I wanted, and honestly needed, whatever it was that they had. I found myself participating in Bible studies, attentively watching sermons, studying song lyrics and reading articles…all in hope of getting to know this God that everyone seemed to know and love. No matter where I searched though, I could not find exactly what I was looking for. I began to question my self-worth because my heart yearned so strongly for this relationship with God that could not seem to be found. Feelings of loneliness and emptiness had replaced the slight belief I had left in myself, and my tank had been completely emptied of the little fuel it had left. I had nothing to turn to, nowhere to go, and no one who could bring my spirit back to life.
That’s when the game of soccer became God’s platform for proving His existence to me, and for making His way into my heart.
I developed a passion for the beautiful game at a young age, and spent every day with a ball at my feet. I constantly strived to perfect my skills at this game that at the time was my ultimate source of joy. It wasn’t until my transition into the teenage years that everything started to take a turn. I slowly and painfully began to feel my coaches and teammates lose belief in my potential and ability on the field, so I naturally lost belief in myself as well. This negative and withholding mindset began to affect other aspects of my life, and I found myself in an emotional slump for the next few years continuing all the way through high school. Although it may not have been evident on the outside by the way that I acted and carried myself, I knew something was missing on the inside, and my heart hungered and ached for more. The one thing that once brought me unfathomable amounts of joy now felt like a chore, and my carefree passion for the game had escaped me. After countless hours of contemplation and many exhausting discussions about quitting the game that had stolen my heart, something continued to hold me back and kept me tied to the sport, something that I couldn’t pinpoint or put into words. My passion had diminished and soccer was no longer the source of my joy, so what was keeping me from letting go? Why couldn’t I agree to just move on?
I now know the answers to these questions. God used the beautiful game to first, bring me to Lipscomb, and second, to teach me what it truly means to believe.
The Lipscomb Women’s Soccer team has absolutely transformed my life. Each and every player and member of the coaching staff was brought to this school and this program for a reason. My purpose for attending this school, being on this team, living in this challenging environment, and playing the game of soccer has now been revealed to me. I finally understand why I spend countless hours working with these specific girls and coaches towards our common goal of not only becoming a better soccer team, but also becoming better followers of Christ. At first, I didn’t understand the full meaning of 1 Corinthians 10:31, the verse we wore on the back of our jerseys to practice every day:
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
What does it look like to do something for the glory of God? It’s when you give your utmost effort, not selfishly for your own good, but for God. Because He’s the one that deserves it, all the success and everything that comes with it, not you. This new motivation and drive to glorify God has become my purpose in life. My purpose for waking up in the morning, for striving towards success academically, for working towards the point of exhaustion physically, and for making an impact in this vast, broken world that has swallowed me and led me astray time after time. God is writing this unexplainable story of life that I will never fully understand. What I do understand is that I’m not, and never will be, the main character of this story. I am simply a tiny piece of this massive, extensive puzzle. However, without my piece, the puzzle would not be complete. I fit into this world because God has created me with a distinct and unique set of strengths and weaknesses with the purpose of glorifying the one who gave them to me. I have been blessed with a talent and a passion for the game of soccer, so it is my responsibility to use this platform as a stage to celebrate and shine light on the God who has blessed me, and each and every one of His people, with more than we could ever deserve.
Believe. Again, such a simple word, two syllables, seven letters long. The word that has left my heart feeling empty for as long as I can remember, but that now fills me with self-worth and my purpose for living. God has shown and proven to me that when my belief lies in Him first and foremost, then all other aspects of life will begin to fall into place. I could not be more grateful for this incredible opportunity I have laid out in front of me; the opportunity to play the game that I love, with the people who bring me endless amounts of joy, while growing closer to the God that has changed my life forever. Simply saying I’m thankful would be an understatement. I now strive to glorify God in everything that I do, in every aspect of life, because that’s what I was ultimately created to do. I have been taught one of the most difficult, and probably the most important, lessons in life, and it has led my heart to the feeling of fullness for which it has been so strongly yearning. All because of this simple word: believe. All we have to do is believe, and God will take care of the rest. I challenge each and every one of us to ask ourselves the toughest question of all: “What’s the purpose of my life?” Finding the answer to this question is the most fulfilling and rewarding feeling that I pray everyone will one day experience. God is incredible and truly has the ability to change lives forever, just like He has done with mine.
Join the Team:
God calls both “goers” and “senders” to His roster to be vessels for His Kingdom work to be done. The Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation team, and all the mission trips the teams go on are supported through fundraising. If you would like to be part of what God is doing through Lipscomb Athletics, and be part of the “sending” team; this is the link to gift funds to Lipscomb Athletics: https://secure.lipscomb.edu/gift (Designate Area “Athletics-University” and then designate “Athletics Spiritual Formation;” or to give to a student’s athletic mission trip: https://www.lipscomb.edu/giving/loose-giving-forms/student-mission-gifts.
Thanks so much for being part of the stories of our team, and witnessing what God is doing through the platform of sport.
Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation Team
Lipscomb track and cross country burst onto the scene in a big way these past few years both regionally and nationally. The women are 5-peat conference champions and the men are 3-peat champs. Simultaneously, both teams have ranked among the top in the nation academically. What is it, though, that really sets this program apart from other NCAA D1 programs?
Assistant coaches Tim Muller and Jenny Randolph made it clear that the success of the program runs much deeper than the national polls that the teams are quickly climbing. Both Tim and Jenny (also alumni of the Lipscomb track and cross country program) are in the middle of their first year as assistant coaches and attribute the job opening to nothing less than an opportunity for ministry and a door opened by the Lord.
Jenny Randolph describes her coaching experience as a ministry.
“Any career is your ministry. One of my favorite parts of coaching is seeing the group of freshmen come in, all on different ends of the spectrum in their faith, and to watch them grow in their spiritual walks. It is so encouraging to see them stronger in their faith when they graduate. To me, that’s a job well done. Coaching here not only allows me to be intentional in pouring into our students’ spiritual lives, it encourages it.”
Tim Muller, similarly, sees the job as an opportunity presented to him by God to give him an opportunity to pour into the men in the program the same way that he was poured into as a student-athlete. When the coaching position was presented to him, he was working at the Nissan plant as a quality engineer.
“It was like God opening a door out of nowhere. I was very content and happy with what I was doing. Then, God opened this door and it was a true test of trust and comfort. My gut-reaction was to say no because I was happy. I was using my degree and making good money. Then, I had to think about the product of what I was doing. Lipscomb invested so much in my life that, for me, it was just a tangible way to give back and turn around and invest in these guys. It was like letting go of a sense of security. Most people would criticize the salary reduction I took. Most people would frown upon taking that big of a hit. For me, it’s just knowing where the guys are in their lives. Being a college coach puts me in a place where I can connect with guys and understand what they’re dealing with. My faith was so radically grown here at Lipscomb and I feel like being a good role model and mentor in this time of their lives is so important.”
Both coaches also hold similar beliefs on the importance of spiritual growth during an athlete’s time at Lipscomb. This is one of the most special aspects that sets Lipscomb Cross Country apart from other programs in the nation. While striving to be an elite team, athletically speaking, these coaches also stress the importance of working for a higher purpose and seeking an unshakeable identity in Christ.
Jenny commented, “Many times, college athletes have a hard time moving on after their sport. The only identity that will not fail you is ‘child of God’. If you actually believe that then you will be able to move from D1 runner to businessman to wife/mom without any disappointment or loss of self worth.”
“Yeah,” said Tim, “I think athletes have a very unique motivation for success and a unique interaction with their own self worth and pride. Competition builds this enlarged sense of self and pride in athletes. Dealing with athletes, you see that they desire purpose. Being a Christian coach gives us the chance to encourage the athletic pursuits but to instill a bigger purpose in their lives and point them to a higher calling and self worth rooted in the Lord that continues even after sports end.”
After talking to Jenny and Tim, it is both encouraging and inspiring to hear their perspectives on the job. No matter where you work or what you are doing, are you viewing your job as a form of ministry? Is your identity and self worth rooted solely in the unshakeable kingdom that we are given as children of God?
“And whatever you do whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” –Colossians 3:17
Written by Alex Newby, Spiritual Formation Graduate Assistant
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…”
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.
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”
“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.
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.