Mid-Season Update: Football and the Gospel

Football vs Wade Hampton

With this bye week, we have a much-needed break tonight. Everyone (coaches and players alike) will get some rest and time with our families. Plus, this week gives us a good opportunity to get healed from some early season injuries, including broken toes, dislocated fingers, strained ligaments, and more. You know, the usual.

Mammas, don’t let your babies . . . .

Our record is now 4-2 (2-0 in our region), and we are scoring over 40 points per game! Both of our losses came by a total of nine points and against bigger schools. I’m not using our smaller school size as an excuse; in one of those losses we had 65 missed tackles, and in the other we had 5 turnovers. We had chances to win, and gave them away.

As Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. There is no disgrace in honest failure; there is disgrace in fearing to fail.”  That is one of the many Life Lessons we are trying to teach these forty young men.

The Rest of the Season

We have three more region games, and then the playoffs. Our schedule includes home games on October 25 and November 1. We would love to see you at either one!

There is one change to our original schedule, and it might help you make a game. Next week, we play at Estill High School on Saturday October 12. We are their homecoming game (How dare they!), and apparently Estill always does their homecoming on Saturday. I think the game will be at 5 PM. Come on down; take a road trip!

Making the Most of the Opportunity

Even though I Am Not an Evangelist, I realized before the season that I needed to be more upfront with my faith. Do you know what holds me back? My awareness of my own sin.

I mess up a lot. I get unnecessarily angry. I lose my patience and my cool. I get distracted. The guys on the team have a front row view of my sinful heart. I keep thinking, “How can I tell them about Jesus, when I screw up so much?” I’ve had to go back and apologize to some guys more than a few times.

But I can’t let my sin keep me from sharing God’s gospel. So, I’ve been more intentional to spend time with some young men.

Sharing Life and Fun

Sometimes we’ve just had guys over for dinner with my family. And I’ve helped a couple of seniors fill out college applications and work on SAT-prep material.

I have taken some guys out to dinner. Once, it was me and two football players who have helped us with some of our camps over the last couple of summers. We were remembering funny moments, and talking about college interns that they got to know.

The Disrespected One

Once, I had to take a guy out who was on the verge of either quitting or getting kicked off the team (depending on one’s perspective). I called him after practice to inform (not ask) him that I would be picking him up and taking him to dinner. We had a great talk about life, choices, and leadership. Even more, I specifically got to share the gospel with him. He goes to church, but that’s about the depth of his spiritual life.

He felt like he had been disrespected by another coach. “Fair enough,” I told him, “But do you think anyone has disrespected you as much as you’ve disrespected Jesus? I tell you what — nothing that anyone has done to me is worse than what I’ve done to God. We’ve  disrespected Him so much that He had to send His only Son to die for us. So before you talk about what’s been done wrong to you, you need to think about where you are with Jesus. We’ve been His enemies, and yet He loves us. That’s what motivates me to do all that I do.”

He got dead serious after that.

Blessed

For another young man whose case I’ve had to get on (and, honestly, whom I’ve lost my cool with during a game), I had a chance to share a meal with him. A good young man, he’s already thinking about lots of positive options for his life. I told him that no matter how much I get on him, I know things will go well for him, and to keep in mind that God can interject at any point. God did that with me, as I went from chemist to pastor to whatever-it-is-I-do-in-Allendale.

I shared that people have told me it’s weird or crazy to make those life changes. Then I told him that the crazy thing would be for God to create me and to send Jesus to die for me, and that I would ignore Him when He tells me to do something different.

Then I shared that I never would have guessed that I would get to be in Allendale and be coach, but it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in the last 3 years. It’s been a blessing to be able to do this.

What this young man told me in response made it all worthwhile,

“Coach, I’m glad you are my coach. Some people say they want to help you, but you know they don’t mean it. You’re different. I know I can come to you if I need anything. You want me to get better.”

Lord Jesus — thank You for the opportunity to share my life and Your Story with these young men.

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2 responses to “Mid-Season Update: Football and the Gospel”

  1. Karen says :

    Thanks for sharing, Joey. I think that last comment by the young man about the sincerity of people must have encouraged you beyond measure. It has also challenged me in my mentoring position here. And reading how you brought Christ into the disrepectful situation is another point I needed to read. Thanks again for sharing your life there and sharing it with us here!

    • joeyespinosa says :

      You’re right. It DID encourage me beyond measure.

      So glad that you are mentoring. What that guy said reminded me that even if we don’t HEAR words like that, our loving actions are being noticed. Not all students are mature enough to be able to communicate that back.

      Hope to see you guys soon.

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