The last four years of developing some key volunteers to help me serve area coaches and their FCA Campus Ministries, have now allowed me to refocus my attention for the next ten years of my ministry here. Please walk along with me through the thoughts which have resulted in the redesign of how I serve coaches and athletes in my 23 county area of Illinois.
1) By developing the FCA Campus Ministry Volunteers, I have cut the personal list of counties I serve to 2 and ½. When I started twenty years ago, I was traveling through 28 counties. This is better. Each of the volunteers serve 4 to 7 counties of schools and their FCA huddles. That is a manageable amount of travel and time for them as they are each retired coaches.
2) I am now able to focus more strongly on the campus at Southern Illinois University. School has been in session for less than a week, but here’s what is happening already:
a. A new weekly Coaches meeting with university coaches. We will meet in one of the staff’s conference room, we’ll use FCA’s new book, “3D Coaching,” as a platform for our discussions on coaching. The coaches are inviting their colleagues for these 30-45 minute discussions.
b. The new semester’s FCA meetings began at my home Tuesday evening. We had student-athletes from Volleyball, Football, Swimming, and Softball teams present. This group discussed all the logistics of how they would like to encourage and serve each other and their teammates through the coming semester.
c. The SIU student-athletes agreed to do a monthly, large group meeting in the football team’s auditorium. They will soon design, plan, promote, and execute these events. Ideally, they’ll be 100% student-athlete led.
d. Saluki FCA also had a number who were also interested in a more intensive Bible study. We are now deciding the when, where, how often, and subject matter for these studies that will require more reading and preparation.
e. In addition to all that, I am polling the Salukis to check their interest in my setting aside one day per week for 1 on 1, personal mentoring meetings with them and their teammates. There seems to be good interest and I’m brainstorming which day and a good location for such meetings.
3) Transformational Coaches is a group of area high school coaches and others in either my or their networks. This group grew out of two conversations with a couple of area coaches who were college baseball teammates and are now head coaches in their respective schools. We met the first time on Wednesday evening. I expected 14 to attend, but 21 coaches were in attendance. We ate some pizza, told stories, networked like crazy, compared notes, and heard an excellent presentation from one of the coaches who helped design the group. The room was full of energy and vision was shared broadly among these coaches who are deeply impacting the lives of their players.
4) Sport Chaplaincy at SIUC. My twenty-first season of serving Saluki Football began back on August 2 with five sessions of Team Building, two early morning chapel talks, and many visits to practices and team dinners. I will again serve Saluki Women’s Basketball as October arrives, and I anticipate serving Saluki Baseball as well beginning in February or March. Other opportunities may arise from our meetings with coaches and from deeper relationships with other players in various sports.
I am immeasurably blessed to be actively engaged in the ministry I believe God created me to do. Twenty years ago I could never have dreamed wildly enough to imagine even the most pedestrian of my daily activities. I would challenge you to never quit, don’t give up, press on, stay the course, ignore the pain, strain toward the goal, and to seek the Lord’s purposes above all things and at any cost. The arrival at the goal is worth it all. Not just for your own satisfaction and joy, but for the lives you impact upon arrival.