Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Are You Practicing?

We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, 
whom we have heard and seen.
We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. 
He is the Word of life 
(1John 1:1 NLT).

Football season is here! This is the time of year that 1John 1:1 comes alive to me. We heard about it, we have seen it, we have touched it, now it is time to proclaim it. The salt from the sweat and the lights on the field show a community, and a team, a player’s true heart.

Football coaches can have a special influence in a young boy’s heart. My very first coach was Dan Jones. I was in eighth grade playing my first year of football ever. I weighed about 80 pounds and he seemed to be like Goliath on that practice field. Trust me, we heard, saw, and were touched as we did mountain climbers up the hill, ran Oklahoma hitting drills, and ran plays in the dark, assisted only by the glowing headlights of nearby cars. When the season started, we proclaimed it. In fact, we never lost a game as a class until our senior year against the number one team in the nation, Berwick.

I played with some great athletes, Dan’s son Brad was one of them. Brad was one of our team captains and stood somewhere around 6-foot, 7-inches tall and 280 pounds. His size and skill earned him a full scholarship to Penn State University. He always made me feel that I was an important part of the team—always encouraging me in the weight room despite my genetic limitations. My senior year, I weighed about 135 lbs. dripping wet and that, combined with hands of stone, made me good for one thing: a tackling dummy.

Brian Smith was another team captain who made an impact on me. He would hit me so hard that I would have snot bubbles coming out my nose, but I always got back up. I’ll never forget those times. We were family.

The last time Coach Jones said something to me, as I stood with my “brothers” after our senior banquet. He told me that I had a heart and I would be great at whatever I decide to do.
I tell you this story, in part, to honor Coach Jones and how he always found a way to get me on the field and play as part of a team. While I, by no means, think I am a great executive director, I also share this story because I feel like a coach for a city with a great heart and that it will get up again.

My challenge to you, my Christian brothers and sisters, is to get yourself to the practice field. There is plenty of hard work down here that will make you sweat and give you the chance to build memories that last forever as you let your light shine for Christ.

Congratulations Blackhawk Football Team of ‘93—still the first and only undefeated season!

Semper Fi,
Matt Nance

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