Breaking New Ground

Athletes in Action Sports Performance held its 30th annual fellowship at the National Athletic Trainers’ Association annual meeting in Las Vegas, NV earlier this summer. A few days later the inaugural Iron Circle Breakfast powered by Athletes in Action broke new ground in AIA’s ministry at the National High School Strength Coaches Association National Convention in Nashville, TN. Over 100 coaches and vendors attended the breakfast and 78 signed up to get more information about joining online biweekly Bible study life groups! AIA also held its 8th annual chapel at the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine annual meeting earlier this spring as an effort to serve team physicians. These events minister to hundreds of professionals and students every year through outreaches at professional meetings.

Attendees enjoying the 30th annual NATA Prayer & Fellowship time!

The Athletes in Action booth at the NHSSCA got very busy right after the Iron Circle Breakfast. Clif Marshall, Indiana University’s Men’s Basketball Director of Athletic Performance, was the featured speaker. Iron Circle powered by Athletes in Action is a vision to encourage and equip strength coaches so they can engage fruitfully with the athletes, coaches and administrators they work with. Garrett Keith, Westminster Christian Academy in Huntsville, AL and the 2019 NHSSCA National Coach of the Year gave his testimony saying, “Iron Circle fills me up and holds me accountable to God’s Word so that I can pour into my student-athletes.”

The comment cards from the Iron Circle breakfast were filled with people excited about this new ministry effort. Paul Newman, Director of AIA Sports Performance who helped to start the NATA fellowships said, “This reminds me of the joy people had when we started the NATA fellowships. We are grateful that Adam Atallah and Garrett Keith who founded Iron Circle asked AIA to partner with them in this ministry.” As a result of the breakfast, 27 Strength coaches have joined the original 10 Iron Circle members, resulting new Iron Circle groups starting in early August! These small groups use resources on The Training Table to focus on building community, prayer, and diving into God’s Word to learn how it applies to our life, family and careers.

JT Thomas, strength coach at Deland HS in Deland, FL describes Iron Circle as “a community of brothers and sisters that pour into each other so that we can be filled with God’s Word in order to effectively pour into our students, faculty and parents.” If you’re looking for community so you can pour into others, contact us at sports performance@athletesinaction.org to find out how you can join an online Bible study group with colleagues in your field.

But God...

“The uncertainty of each day allowed us to have to trust God and rely on the Spirit to lead us.” Said Charlie, one of the team members from AIA Sports Performance’s recent tour to Honduras. Charlie’s statement sums up the trip very well! Despite weather delays, baggage issues, and multiple schedule changes, the team sought to trust God. It seems that things never went as planned! But God provides and His plans are always better than ours. As a result of this team, the love of Christ was shared with nearly 300 people and 32 of them indicated making a decision to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior!

God brought together an amazing team, made up of a variety of skills covering four different disciplines. Jim (AIA staff and team leader) is a certified athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist. Hilary, a gymnast at Iowa State University is seeking her masters in nutrition and exercise. Sasha, a sprinter from the University of Arizona has a degree in public health. Charlie, a former college football player is currently a strength & conditioning coach at Houston Baptist University.

Jim and Hillary experienced weather delays as they flew to Honduras. As Jim sat waiting in the Atlanta airport for 12 hours, changing gates 7 times, a devotion, sent from a friend, ministered to him. Aptly titled, “The Joy of Pressing Through, Find joy in the midst of everyday trials, even though the trial might be stretching you right now” and based on James 1:2-4 gave Jim the strength he needed to persevere through these changes. After two days of travel the whole team was finally together in Tegucigalpa Honduras. Then, to top it off, Jim’s luggage and team equipment bag didn’t arrive. Thankfully, Jim had an extra set of clothes with him – but didn’t know he would have to wear those clothes for two days, when his bags arrived…damaged and wet!

Sunday night, as the team met together in Honduras, they were hit with the reality that political protests due to changes in the education and health systems were stirring in the country. The universities where the team was planning to teach and do outreach was closed! As the team turned in for the night, they were not sure what was going to happen with the conferences/clinics planned for the week. On Monday morning, Jim’s devotion read, “REST IN ME, MY CHILD. Give your mind a break from planning and trying to anticipate what will happen. Pray continually, asking My Spirit to take charge of the details of this day. Remember that you are on a journey with ME.” Since the universities were closed, the local AIA staff invited the university faculty to come to the team’s hotel to hold the meetings there. For two days 32 coaches, students and administrators, including an official for the Honduran educational department, showed up for the presentations. Despite all the uncertainty caused by the political protests, God used the team - ministry happened, lives were changed!

In the afternoons, the team went to a basketball coliseum that houses a medical clinic and fitness center. It is run by Laura, a physio therapist, who was exposed to AIA’s ministry during our 2017 trip and also attended the 2018 International Sports Performance Academy where she received training in sports ministry and sports medicine. In Laura’s words the clinic is a ministry whose main activity is to create spiritual movements using various tools of evangelism. Through this activity Laura serves as a catalyst for AIA’s chaplaincy movement among elite athletes in Honduras and she is also considering coming on staff with Athletes in Action. The team helped Laura and other AIA volunteers evaluate injuries and develop rehabilitation programs. 64 Athletes were evaluated and 41 spiritual conversations took place with 23 exposed to the gospel and 12 making decisions to follow Christ!

AIA’s relationship with the Honduras Olympic Training Center opened doors for the team to teach and do clinics there with a variety of sports including gymnastics, volleyball and martial arts. So our AIA staff in Honduras invited the students and professors from the closed universities to come there instead to hear the AIA team and participate in hands on clinics. 160 Showed up! The team covered topics such as nutrition, speed training, strength & conditioning, and mental health, using T-shirts that had symbols of a heart (God’s love), division sign (sin), cross (Jesus), and a question mark (Have you made the decision?). At those sessions, 20 indicated decisions for Christ, 4 wanted to be in a Bible Study, and 8 wanted to know more about a personal relationship with God. 32 expressed interest in becoming involved with Athletes in Action. Hillary, who used both gymnastics and nutrition to share her faith said, “The AIA tour in Honduras was an opportunity of a lifetime. It was such a special experience sharing of our gifts with our sports and academic expertise, all the while sharing His good word. It was a life-changing experience that brought me closer to God and closer to fellow brothers and sisters in Christ!”

The schedule changes also opened a new opportunity for Athletes in Action to minister at the national police academy! 90 Police academy students listened as Sasha shared about mental health. Brochures were handed out that contained the gospel. Azucena, the director, wants to develop a Critical Incident Stress Management program for the police cadets. Jim has received this training through the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and connected Azucena with the President of International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. Pray that this leads to a practical way to impact Honduras. Seeing examples like the Police Academy on the trip gave Charlie a vision for how to combine his loves in life. He said, “This trip was such a blessing! I learned so much about myself and God’s faithfulness. I have this vision of combining mission work with my love for movement: strength & conditioning with ministry. It seems this could be a possible vocation for me in the future if God makes it clear.”

Weather delays, baggage issues and protests could have derailed the team but God in His wisdom provided ways for the team to share the gospel and bring credibility to AIA’s ministry in Honduras. The four person team rested in God, trusted His strength and pressed through to encourage, equip and empower approximately 20 AIA staff and volunteers in Honduras. In doing so they developed a close bond, doing Bible study, engaging in thought provoking discussions and praying together. Sasha said, “God truly revealed Himself in Honduras. I made memories that will carry on with me for the rest of my life.” Those memories serve as a model for AIA educational clinic teams seeking to provide professional expertise to the sports communities they travel to around the world.

NATA and NHSSCA Fellowships this Week!

Join us in Las Vegas and Nashville!

Announcing the 30th Annual Fellowship and Prayer time at the NATA National Convention and the 1st Annual Iron Circle Breakfast at the NHSSCA National Convention!

NATA: 6:00 am, Wednesday, June 26th at Mandalay Bay’s Hazel Coffee Lounge for coffee, pastries, prayer and fellowship. Be sure to stop by our booth (#1752) in the expo hall as well!

NHSSCA: 7:00 am, Saturday, June 29th at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, TN at the National High School Strength Coaches Association. Clif Marshall, Director of Athletic Performance for Indiana University Men’s Basketball will be the keynote speaker. Stop by Table 20 to learn more about how you can get involved in Athletes in Action and Iron Circle!

Invite your friends!

Engaging Others with Christ's Love

This summer several athletic trainers, strength coaches, team physicians and students in these fields are experiencing missions in their field of expertise as they serve with AIA or a partnering ministry. They’re engaging others with Christ’s love this summer in places like Ukraine, Honduras, Israel, Puerto Rico, and Kenya! They are also serving in Alabama, California, Colorado, Minnesota and Ohio. Annie Mitchell, ATC was able to share with orphans in Ukraine while traveling with AIA Wrestling (photo below).

Paul Newman, ATC traveled with two AIA basketball teams to Israel as part of the Walk The Story Biblical tour. Paul may be the first AT to ever tape an ankle on the Southern Steps near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (photo below). This is the likely location of Peters’ sermon on Pentecost where the Church originated nearly 2000 years ago!

Payton Lindsey, ATC recently served as the lead AT at AIA’s SoCal Ultimate Training Camp. She wrote, “It has been an incredible experience both clinically and spiritually. It was an honor to start off my Athletic training career by serving the Lord and His children!”

Jim Rumelhart, ATC, CSCS led a team of four diverse professionals to Honduras in early June (photo below). Despite facing obstacles in their scheduling, they were able to share the love of Christ with coaches, administrators and students at three universities and at the Honduras Olympic Training Center!

Mike Baria, MD from The Ohio State University made a huge impact on a group of wrestlers visiting the US in April. Jill Rondini, ATC traveled to Portugal with AIA Women’s Soccer and other AT’s have served at camps and projects in Gulf Shores, AL, Fort Collins, CO, St. Paul, MN, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. Students are serving as well. Alaina Brown, Bethany Seman, Savannah Claire Morgan are in Ohio as summer interns with AIA being mentored by Lisa Martin, ATC and Priscilla Medina, ATC

Several more professionals and students are changing lives and seeing their own life changed through these opportunities! There is still one more international team looking for an AT to serve in August. Contact sportsperformace@athletesinaction.org if you’re interested in this team or traveling with AIA in the future.

8th Annual Chapel at AMSSM Annual Meeting

The eighth annual chapel at the American Society for Sports Medicine will be held at 7:00 am CDT on Sunday, April 14th in the Chambers Room (2nd Level) at the Marriott Marquis in Houston, Texas.

“Engaging Others with Christ’s Love” is the focus of this year’s chapel.

Going to Houston? Come hear an intriguing story of how one college basketball player found the Love of God through “whirlpool witnessing.”

Not going, but knowing someone who is? Send them a note encouraging them to attend!