Put Me In Coach!
I love coaches and appreciate what they do. An important part of my ministry now deals with coaches and athletic teams. I believe that coaches have a great opportunity to be used by God to change the lives of young people. Someone once said, “If any adult can get a foot in the door with today’s youth, that foot will be wearing shoes with cleats on them.”
Joe Kennedy was the coach at Bremerton High School in Washington. He prayed with his team in the locker room and on the field after each game. His school administration told him to stop. Through a series of legal proceedings, he was suspended and lost his job for praying. But that didn’t stop him—he said he was going to continue praying.
Eight years later on September 1, 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that he was denied his rights and could follow guidelines to pray with his athletes. Praise God! Pray for coaches to have more boldness in reaching young people.
In the 1980s, Charles Lee was head coach of the Jeff Davis Volunteers, which was one of the largest high schools in Alabama. Coach Lee’s young assistant coach, Bobby Eskew, had a stroke following a game and died a few days later. Coach Lee asked me to come and speak to the team. I did and continued going every week and speaking to the team for that year and the next eleven years!
Most of that coaching staff joined the church at Frazer and became active. Head Coach Lee and defensive coach coordinator, Bubba Lewis, gave me complete freedom in relating to those young athletes. The coaches sometimes complained that I made too many suggestions to them for coaching. They reminded me that they didn’t preach on Sunday. I reminded them that my suggestions for creative plays to run and defensive schemes led them to a couple of state championships!
I have had the opportunity to speak at team chapels and FCA huddle groups at the University of Alabama, Auburn, Troy, Alabama State, Clemson, Huntingdon College, and several others. I have spoken at most of the high schools in the River Region.
All of these opportunities to speak to players and coaches have been in athletic facilities or on the playing field. I must confess that I was never confronted about the fact that I could be doing something “illegal.” I am thankful for a coach like Joe Kennedy who was willing to stand up and make a difference. We need more coaches and American citizens like him!
Coaches have had a huge influence on my life. My high school coach in Opelika was Sam Mason, and in that day, he coached football, basketball, baseball and drove the bus! My Young Harris Junior College basketball coach was Luke Rushton. My Huntingdon basketball coach was Neal Posey. I want to share with you about their influence on me in a future opportunity.
I have been blessed by coaches. That’s why I am grateful to be invited to speak at several different coach’s conferences. Just this week, I had an email from a head coach with a major division-one school thanking me for the influence I have had on him, his staff, and players. My daily podcasts and radio messages, weekly blog, and daily videos have enabled me to give back some of the things I received from coaches.
Pray for coaches. Encourage coaches. Thank coaches for their influence on your community. Support coaches when they are bold in expressing their convictions.