Tonight is the celebration time for our Upward Sports league here in Ontario. The last 11 weeks we have been practicing and playing basketball or cheer leading with a huge group of elementary kids. All of our coaches and referees are volunteers from our church and our community. They give a lot of time and energy to their team to make the experience great! Our goal is to use the sport as the avenue to share what we believe is the most important thing: God’s love demonstrated through Jesus. We love the sport- but the sport is not the only thing we are after.
I have a confession though. During the season, I can get a little too into the sport and the details of the league, and forget that it’s the moments beyond the sport experience that really matter. That is generally when God orchestrates a moment to remind me that this is so much more than just basketball or cheer. One of the those moments happened last week at the last game day.
We have a young man on our coaching team named Jeremy. Jeremy is a guy with special needs. A few years ago, he started helping coach and has been a part of the coaching team since. During the off season he will stop those who he knows involved with Upward and ask when practices start! He is so excited about basketball!
This season he was part of the Liberty team, a 4th-6th grade girls team. It is really fun to see him at practices and games on the sideline cheering and coaching. And he is very faithful to come to practices and games! He even got a group of friends to come watch his game one week. That was pretty awesome.
So last week was our last game day and Coach Jeremy had something special for his team. He brought every player a homemade card with a message from “Assistant Coach.”
I got to watch as he handed out each card to each player- he even brought candy to give them. Each card was handed over, on purpose, to each girl from his team… It was a cool thing to watch. Each of the girls smiled, said thank you, and beamed as they read their cards from Coach Jeremy.
It made me think again that this is so much more than just a sports experience. We are creating a place where Jeremy can be part of a team; a place where kids can build friendships with a guy like Jeremy; a place that, hopefully, shows God’s love no matter what walk of life we come from. It has got to be more than just basketball and cheer… This is why I like being part of Upward Sports. When we do it right, it helps facilitate (through sports) an atmosphere that pushes us into what really matters in life.
It is high time that I start writing again. It has been an embarrassingly long time since I posted anything of worth. But I decided that needs to change. In a week, we will enter the season of Lent. As I am really excited for the season, my goal is to post a few thoughts along the way.
In the meantime, enjoy this awesome video that came to my attention today. It totally made me say, “What?? No way.”
It’s the final week of practices and last game! Amazing how quickly it goes. Thank you for praying. Here are the final requests, March 5th to the Celebration evening.
March 5- The witness of players and cheerleaders at home and at school
March 6- Everyone to remain healthy
March 7- The ministerial staff
March 8- Enthusiasm & positive attitudes to remain strong
March 9- Spirit of Christian community to develop
March 10- (Last Game Day) Excitement for Celebration Night & seeking hearts
March 11- Preparation for Celebration Night
March 12- Safe travel for our special guest, Dave the Horn Guy
March 13- Celebration Night
Upward request for the week of February 27th.
Feb. 27- Children in second grade
Feb. 28- Children in third grade
Feb. 29- Children in fourth grade
March 1- Children in fifth grade
March 2- Children in sixth grade
March 3- (Sixth Game Day) Halftime message & seeking hearts
March 4- Follow-up efforts to be fruitful
Upward request for the week of February 20th.
Feb. 20- Work assistants on Saturday
Feb. 21- Final practice to go well
Feb. 22- Players and cheerleaders with difficult family situations
Feb. 23- Church maintenance crew, Todd & Dean
Feb. 24- Families of our pastors
Feb. 25- (5th Game Day) Halftime message & hungry hearts
Feb. 26- Children in kindergarten and first grade.
It’s the middle of our Upward season!Here are request for the week of February 13th.
Feb. 13- Parents who are not involved with their child’s league
Feb. 14- Team host families
Feb. 15- Opportunities to share Christ with nonbelievers
Feb. 16- Church members to reach out to those without a church home
Feb. 17- Upward Gives Back Day– Food & clothing drive
Feb. 18- (Game Break) Physical and spiritual refreshing
Feb. 19- Players’ & Cheerleaders’ parents
Daily prayer request for Upward Basketball and Cheerleading. Week of February 6th.
Feb. 6- 2nd-3rd grade parents
Feb. 7- 4th-6th grade parents
Feb. 8- Save travel to and from games
Feb. 9- A spirit of sportsmanship among all participants
Feb. 10- Consistent prayer among prayer partners
Feb. 11- (Fourth Game Day)Those presenting halftime message & hungry hearts
Feb. 12- The witness of coaches at home and at work