Friday, September 2

"Congratulations, Joyce" and Football Eve

We received word this evening that Gina's sister, Joyce Cowen, has been named Teacher of the Year for the state of Kansas. Congratulations! She teaches at the middle school in Ft. Scott, KS. All three of the "Winter girls" are exceptional teachers and it is great to see them recognized for that.
Tomorrow the football seasons of my favorite college and high school teams begin. Even though it has been 29 years since my last football season, there is still something about a football stadium on game day that gets me excited. The crowds, the bands, the warm-ups, the game - I don't think there is an athletic atmosphere quite like a football game.
When we first moved to Fayetteville in 1982 and started ConC, we knew about three students. Shelley was from Fayetteville, Terri was from DeWitt, and Scott was from Kansas City. Scott was also on the Razorback football team and was VP of the campus FCA huddle. I began attending the FCA meetings with him, and that connection began a ten year ministry that I had with the Razorback athletic teams. When we moved to Fayetteville, I was only 23 and many of the guys that I worked with were about my same age. We had a 7:00 am Bible study in the athletic dorm that first year and some of my best friends in those days were football players. Scott, Jim, Trey, Kent, Chip, Jeff, Mark, and others. Over the next ten years, I had the chance to work with some exceptional Christian men who served and led with FCA. Eventually a new ministry was formed on campus that was aimed toward athletes. They were able to have several full-time staff members to work with the athletes, so I turned my focus to other areas. But the Razorbacks are still my team and they start their season tomorrow against Missouri State.
And that experience led me to the chance I have today to serve with the Springdale High School Bulldogs. During those FCA days, Rick Schaeffer served as the Sports Information Director at the UofA. He eventually left that position to work with FCA in NW Arkansas. As he thought about ministering to SHS, he remembered the work I did with the UofA FCA group. So he called and asked me to work with the Bulldog football team. This will be my fourth season. I will speak to the full team 6-8 times a year. And every Thursday night during the season, we have a pasta dinner and Bible study time. We had our first of the year last night with about 30 players there. Most who come to this are the seniors and the starters. It is a great time of sharing and prayer, of challenging and messing around.
The Bulldogs start their season tomorrow against Evangel Christian of Shreveport, LA. The game will be televised by Fox Sports. Springdale is ranked number 16 in the country by USA Today and Evangel is ranked number 18. It should be a great game. But Springdale has some pressure on them. Several of them will be playing college ball next year - and some on a national level (two have committed to Arkansas, two to Florida, and one to Notre Dame). The expectations around the state are so high right now that anything less than an undefeated season will be looked at as a failure by many. That's a tough position to be in with team's like Evangel, Jenks, and Ft. Smith Northside on the schedule.


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