Seizing opportunities to minister on the field

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Written by JEFF MIELCAREK, Director of CYO Athletics   
Saturday, 25 September 2010 12:46
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Recently, I sat back to reflect on the many different opportunities that the Lord has blessed me with in terms of being able to spend time in the lives of so many youth. I try to never take these opportunities for granted because these youth will only go through this stage of their life once.

All of us who have been blessed with the ministry of coaching youth must always look upon it as a ministry. Kids don’t choose to go to math class, they have to; they don’t choose to go to English class, they have to; sometimes they don’t even choose to go to Sunday Mass, they have to. However, in most cases, kids choose to come to sports practices or games.

When we look at our coaching ministry in these terms we can begin to realize the great opportunities that we have to make a positive impact on a young person’s life in our classroom. We can teach them about the sport that we are coaching, which is certainly important, but we also need to take the opportunities to teach them about being good Christian people and practicing teamwork, sportsmanship and respect for the game, teammates, opponents, game officials and others.

WEB_MUG_Jeff_MielcarekThis past summer we were all shown a great example of how we can turn a negative into a positive learning moment in our sports classroom. By now we have all seen or heard about the near perfect game that Detroit Tiger Armando Galarraga pitched in June only to lose that opportunity because of a missed call by the umpire. This was the bad part of the story, but it took a very positive turn in the following 24 hours.

The next day the umpire and Toledo native, Jim Joyce, admitted that he missed the call and told the world how badly he felt for taking the perfect game away from this young pitcher. Tiger manager Jim Leyland and Armando Galarraga both made statements the next day saying how good of an umpire Jim Joyce is and that they had no hard feelings toward him. When Jim Joyce walked onto the field the next day Tiger fans stood and applauded him as Galarraga brought the Tiger line-up to home plate. All of this caused Jim Joyce to tear up with emotion.

What these three men taught us all was that no one tries to make a bad call or a bad play in a game and we really can’t control some of these things. What we can control is how we react to these tough situations. In this case, all three of these men showed us a bright spot in the world of professional athletics. It was one of the best displays of sportsmanship I had seen in quite a while.

As ministers to youth we too are presented many opportunities to teach the people around us, but on a much smaller stage. We are all challenged on how we react to adverse situations.

We coaches need to continue to minister to our youth through our words and actions. It’s a great opportunity and ministry with which the Lord has blessed us.
Last Updated on Saturday, 25 September 2010 12:46