28 October 2013

Ole Miss LHP Scott Ashford

Describe Your Relationship with Christ.

My testimony...i guess begin at the start. I went to catholic middle school and high school and had religion classes every year. It was nothing more than a religion class to me though, it never truly hit home. Then when I got to my first Junior College there was a strong support and community and I began to read the bible and find verses that really applied to my life. There was this new found sense of something greater out there, this new burning desire in my life. I began to go to church regularly, which I had never done. I wanted to become a man of God and truly be able to live up to that title. It was my second year in Junior College I was truly tested. I was cut from the team, and that is when my world began to fall apart. I did not know what I was going to do or if I would ever play baseball again. It was right after I got cut I found my favorite bible verse, Ezra 10:4- Rise up for this matter is in your hands, so be of good courage and do it, for we will support you. I then saw that God would always be with me and that he had reasoning for everything. I kept faith that he had perfect timing and there was a reason for everything. In that same year I went to play for another Junior College in Mississippi. I then found the organization I Am Second, and truly began to buy into their philosophy of  God's plan, not mine. So I prayed that I would live his plan and focus on becoming not just a better baseball player, but also a better Christian. Then something truly amazing happened, I began to be recruited by some 4 year colleges. This I would have never thought to happen just months earlier when I was being cut. I just prayed to God to please let me find the school where I can continue to grow in faith and become a better person.  I then committed to the University of Mississippi to play baseball that spring. Upon getting here it was one of the best things I could do for my faith life. So many of the guys on the team are so in touch with their faith and are always willing to help me spiritually. One of our relief pitchers brought the great point to me that we are here to compete our hearts out for God, and to get on the stage not for personal glory but to give all of the glory to God. God loves us no matter what we do, I feel the least I can do is give my everything every time I step out on the field and use the talent that he has blessed me with, and give him all the praise and make his word known so that hopefully I can turn people's eyes to him and his glory. 

How Important Has God Been to Your Success As An Athlete?

- God has been a huge part of my success as an athlete. I know they were many times when there were few people who believed in me and what I was capable of, but I knew he had a plan for my life that was greater then I could ever fathom, whether it be with baseball or not. In reading the bible I have read that God encourages us to cast our worries and anxieties on him because he will take them away. I have faith that every day whether I fail or succeed it is in God's will and plan for my life. I strive everyday to get better for him so that I can make sure to make the most of the talent and ability he blessed me with. 

Do You Have Any Favorite Bible Verses?

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know well the plans I have in mind for you says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe. Plans to give you a future full of hope. "

Ezra 10:4
"Rise up for this matter is in your hands, so be of good courage and do it, for we will support you. "

Romans 5:3-5 
"And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Colossians 3:23 
"Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord & not for men." 

Matthew 16:26 
"And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?"

What Are Your Thoughts on God Using Ordinary People?

- I feel that God uses ordinary people each and every day to impact earth to show that it can be done by all. He chose ordinary people so that people can see that they can turn their life around because they are seeing someone else do it, and this person isn't some highly powerful person. I believe he also chooses ordinary people to show that it matters nothing of worldly possessions but of how you are as a Christian and how you serve others. Ordinary people are one of God's strongest tools to communicate his message throughout the world daily.

What Are Your Ambitions For the Future?

- My ambitions for the future are to play baseball as long as I can. I hope to be able to use this as a way to spread God's word for a long time. I also plan on becoming a physical therapist and my dream job is to become one of the physical therapist at St. Jude's Children Hospital in Memphis, TN.

18 October 2013

BSU Gymnast Kelly Barock

Describe Your Relationship with Christ.

I was brought up in a Christian household, with my parents who are still happily married and my two older brothers, Steven (23), and Patrick (25).

But my story starts with a nightmare. When I was around the age of 7 we were learning about the crucifixion in Sunday school; how God sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross for the sins of the world. That night I had a horrific nightmare, I was standing under the cross, and when I lifted my eyes expecting to see the man who I had learned about in church, I was instead devastated at what I saw. I saw my own father, hanging there, bleeding profusely from the nails that were protruding from his hands and feet. You could imagine how I felt as a young child, thinking that she is witnessing her father dying in front of her own eyes…. But the dream took a comforting turn, when I was suddenly running toward a blinding light, brighter then the sun itself. As I got closer to the light I saw Jesus himself, arms open wide, ready to embrace his child. Right when His arms wrapped around me, I woke up to my mom cradling me, drying my lethargic tears. I immediately forced her to call my pop to make sure that he was indeed living and that what I thought I saw was just a dream. The following night when I closed my eyes I was greeted by the devil himself. (My perception of the Devil was a monstrous red dude with a tail and a pitchfork) He didn’t speak. I just saw his face, which scared me awake and running into my parent’s room where I abruptly woke my dad and told him what I saw. Seeing how distressed I was he offered to pray with me, and that is the first time I can remember asking Jesus into my heart. I had no idea what I was doing; I was just a terrified little girl and wanted these dreams to stop. I knew and believed everything I was taught in Sunday school, but in no way was I capable of understanding what I was actually accepting.

 My middle school through high school years were nothing out of the ordinary, I was known as the good Christian girl who never did anything wrong and who lived her life of good deeds. My senior year I wanted to change what people thought of me because I thought my life was boring. I fell into a rebellious stage, starting with a mild addiction to piercings, which I did on my own, this lead to sneaking out and going to high school parties. The first time I ever got drunk was at the end of my senior year. No one had explained to me the rules of drinking (beer before liquor never been sicker) so naturally, I drank whatever was placed in my hand. I started out with mikes hard, then as much drunkenness continued I downed five shots of whiskey, after that I was done, my friends who were suppose to be looking out for me brought me to the toilet where I puked my brains out for an hour, then they put me to bed. I vaguely remember my friends frequently checking up on me throughout the night. During one check up, one of my friends stumbled into the room, drunk, and started taking advantage of me, I was aware of what was happening but I was limp and was in no way able to function or fight back. I remember freaking out inside but not being able to voice my fear. Before He could rape me another one of my friends burst into the room and stopped him. The next thing I remember was waking up the next morning, hung-over beyond belief. To this day I struggle with forgiving my friend, and I live with the regret of that night.
Out of school my life was consumed by gymnastics, ever since I was a little girl, I was always the runt. I use to literally kill myself to keep up with my teammates. It was always a game of competition, one upping everyone, until I broke my foot right before I was about to advance to level 10. It was happening... my teammates advancing further, leaving me behind... again. I hated God, because I thought that if I couldn’t be the best I could be in gymnastics then I wasn’t good enough. My dad would always say, “Man, Kel you need to show off your routine like Sam, or you need to be more powerful like Jenee.” Every time it just ate away at me, pushing me harder, and harder to win my own approval as well as my father’s. I stayed back another year as a level 9, working harder each day to try and regain my strength and endurance. I was filled with resentment and anger because I was at a stand still, when again I broke the same foot. I thought my career was over, because my parents were getting tired of seeing the doctor every other month. My mom tried to get me to quit every chance she could. But things turned around when I proved myself at level 9 Nationals, when I became the first gymnast from our new gym to win the title of the National Balance Beam Champion. I had finally earned my name. All the little kids looked up to me and wanted to be like me. But they had no idea what I was struggling with internally. With all the stress, of gymnastics and school, my self esteem quickly plummeted. Every time I passed by a mirror I would stop and turn sideways, disgusted. I tried making myself throw up several times, but I never had the guts to actually commit, since hacking my drunken brains out at the party I talked about earlier, scarred me for life.

When it was time to apply for college my main focus was a BIG school, like the University of Florida, or NC State, with gymnastics being my main focus, of course. Liberty University was my backup college and complete last resort. Letters after letters came, but denial after denial, sent me back into thinking I wasn’t good enough, or smart enough. It killed me, and I hid my tears behind the sound of hour showers. I thought it was too late to be scouted by a college coach, until George Washington University showed interest. Okay, they weren’t my ideal college or team but I was so desperate for a scholarship I didn’t care. They scouted me and said we would talk money... but then another denial letter came in the mail. SAT and ACT scores, FAIL. And there went all my dreams; everything I worked my whole life to achieve wasn’t going to happen. I would never be a college gymnast. I wrestled with the fact that my dreams were slipping through my fingers. I accepted the fact that I was going to attend Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia and not be NCAA athlete. I had heard horror stories prior to sending in my application, stories like a curfew, and room checks, no PDA on campus, and mandatory convocations that every student was expected to attend and if they didn’t were punished accordingly. This didn’t seem like a college experience, more like a four-year sentence to a jail disguised as a University. On top of all of that, both my brothers were currently studying criminal justice at Liberty, and I didn’t want to follow my brothers footsteps, I wanted to start anew, make my own name, meet my own friends, and live a life that wasn’t being watched by my siblings. Two weeks before school started I still didn’t have roommates. I had been switched into 3 different rooms, until finally landing in a room with two girls, Luci and Erica. Naturally I Facebook stalked them to get a feel for who these girls might be. My first impressions of them weren’t the best... Once school started I discovered that Liberty did have a NAIGC club gymnastics team, which was better then no gymnastics at all. So I continued to do gymnastics, but not truly satisfied by the team’s level of expertise or where I currently was college wise. But as the weeks went on, Liberty started to grow on me. I met so many people there who were just an inspiration to me spiritually. They opened up to me and accepted me for who I was. They shared their testimonies with me and helped me grow stronger as a person and in my faith. The one girl who I owe an eternity of thanks to is Jodi Jacob. She was truly my light in my own darkness. This girl put her complete faith in God and emptied out her whole bank account and gave it to a local charity to backpack through Israel at the age of 20. She didn’t ask or beg for food or shelter, she prayed for it, and God delivered her, answering all her prayers and taking care of her on foreign soil, while she shared the Gospel. She once told me she needed to get a plane ticket so she could return home, but she didn’t have the money… so she prayed for God to provide her the money to see her family. Meanwhile, a guy was handed a package and was told by the man who handed it to him that, “God told me to give you this and he said you would know what to do.” So the man who received the package, dumbfounded, prayed for answers of what to do with the package. A couple days past and he felt called to give the package to a woman, to whom he repeated the same words he was told from the stranger who he had received the package from initially. After a couple of days in prayer this woman knew exactly what to do with it. She saw Jodi and said God told me to give this to you. Jodi opened the package to find enough money for a plane ticket home and a meal for that night. This was just one story from her amazing testimony. She impacted me so much that I wanted to write her a letter explaining what I didn’t know how to say in words….

“…. I lived my life dead, never truly appreciating the life I could have when I just looked to Jesus. But after hearing your testimony, I had so many questions, that I asked you and you answered but I just didn’t understand any of it. I couldn’t wrap my head around how people hear God, or how God speaks to them.  So at prayer groups I wrote it on a note card and my prayer leader, Hannah tried to explain it as best she could, and I understood it a little more but not completely. So I decided to pray about it, and every time I prayed I would ask God to open my eyes, and open my ears. Then it hit me. God had been speaking to me all along, There was a reason that I didn’t get accepted into those colleges, and their was a reason why I got the roommates I had gotten. God knew I wouldn’t like Liberty if I had crap roommates. So he placed me with Erica and Luci after countless room switches. God had been softening my heart ever since I arrived at Liberty. He showed me that there are actually good guys in the world. And he showed me what real friends look like, through Logan actually. (one of my really great friends at Liberty) Logan said to me one night, “I’ve never had real friends that would be as awesome as these people and then at the end of the day go home and continually pray for me.” That really hit home, and just made me more grateful for being here. But on the downside of being here, I feel like a horrible Christian, because I have never read the Bible, I didn’t know any verses anyone was talking about, when they said, “You guys probably already know this verse...” NOPE, not I. So I decided to start devotionals, which I had never done before. And that night where you came up to me and said, “Kels, I just love watching you grow.” made me break into tears when you closed your door, because I knew that God was speaking to me through you. I’m just so grateful that God placed me here, and allowed me to meet you. You have impacted my life so much and I haven’t even known you for a year. You don’t realize how much you impact someone’s life until someone tells you about it, and that is the purpose of this letter, to thank and praise you. I want to be like you. You are strong in your faith, and you love God with all of your heart no matter who is judging or slandering your beliefs. You are strong, and God has blessed you.

Jodi will forever be apart of my story, because of who she is, and how she loved me during my time at liberty. Yeah, I said my time at Liberty…. God decided to throw me a curveball. At the end of my first semester of freshman year, the head gymnastics coach from a University in Indiana called Ball State, contacted me and wanted me to transfer so that I could compete on her team. Yup, that’s right, a D1 school wanted me to compete gymnastics for them! I was so excited, and confused at the same time. I was struggling because I thought God wanted me at Liberty… He had opened my eyes and renewed my faith in just a short semester, and he wanted me to pick up everything, and attend a secular school to follow a dream that I was once denied? I didn’t get it at all. I prayed about it and almost instantly a sense of peace overcame me and I knew God was giving me a second chance at my dream. So I transferred and competed in every competition as a freshman on the Ball State Gymnastics team. My freshman year was amazing. I met twice the people normal people do going through their freshman year and experienced being a regular college student and being a student athlete. God brought me through many trials and changed my whole perspective of Liberty University. I love that college, and will always speak highly of it, because the friends I met there are apart of who I am. I miss them every single day, and even so much that I make a 14-hour trip to go visit occasionally. It’s like I never left. That is friendship. But towards the whole transfer to Ball State, I struggled with being in such a dry area. I loved my team, and it’s like I had known them my whole life, but at the same time I was lacking my brothers and sisters in Christ that I had grown to know and Love at Liberty. And it was sophomore year when I started to think I made the wrong decision to switch schools. Sophomore year was probably the worst and longest year of my life for many of the following reasons: Instead of making line up every single competition, I was sitting out, only able to cheer on my team. I felt like my coach just used me freshman year, then when she didn’t need me anymore she benched me. I didn’t feel good enough anymore, and I wanted to go back to Liberty so bad. My boyfriend at the time and I decided to mutually break up, because we were in two different places in our lives, and we were battling long distance. I wasn’t on a scholarship so I was paying out of state tuition on top of the fees for being a college athlete, and I had forgotten to sign up for a class that was only offered in the fall, which would turn my four year program into a five year program which my parents couldn’t afford. I fell into a depression that took months to come out of. I was dealing with a broken heart, feelings of failure with gymnastics, spiritual dryness, homesickness, and the guilt with financial problems. Instead of being social and hanging out with my friends I removed myself because I didn’t want anyone to see my pain or ask me what was wrong, because I would have just burst into tears. My days consisted of going to practice, class, practice, then going to sleep at 6 pm and not waking up until the next morning. My roommate forced me to wake up and go to our Bible study that we attended every Monday. But even going to that Bible study didn’t help me get out of my funk. In the midst of everything I started reading The Purpose Driven Life, and it made me realize that no matter what I’m dealing with God will always be there and he will never leave my side. He will always pick me up when I fall and he will forgive me know matter how much I deny Him and run back to Him. Once I came to the realization that I was never alone, everything started turning around. I met with the president of my major to try and get myself waivered into a class despite my mistake and turns out that he was actually a college gymnast in his prime, so we had a lot of talk about and at the end of our conversation he allowed me to get into the class and get back on my four year track. My relationship between my ex and I turned into a best friend kind of relationship, in which his friendship is truly valued and admired. And my parents were able to encourage me through the rest of the semester. At the end of the semester I was introduced to the Ultimate Training Camp by two of our track athletes. UTC was amazing, but halfway through the camp I suffered a concussion that discontinued my efforts. It was a trial that strangely mirrored my struggle sophomore year as an athlete. I was forced to sit out, not being able to help my team as they took on the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. just like I had to sit out the whole gymnastics year. God was showing my life to me in hindsight everything was clear. And even though I wasn’t able to see my shadow on the run up Golgotha, I finally understood, seeing everyone conquer that mountain, brought me to tears and embracing my teammate as we both cried because we were overwhelmed with the spirit and power of God changed me for life. My whole existence I have thought lowly of myself. UTC reminded me that I am adequate, I am worthy, and I don’t have to rely on anyone BUT God, because he is my savior and redeemer. I learned that there is life aside from gymnastics, and sport. I am a new athlete, competing for the audience of one. And loving God for bringing me through every single trial and every single relationship, because they have brought me to the place, and helped mold me into who I am today.

I am Kelly Barock, and I am a Light in the world.

“Love, is the world’s greatest witness.”

How Important Has God Been to Your Success As An Athlete?

- God is the reason I am an athlete. He has blessed me with the abilities and talents I need to share God through my sport. He has shown me that he can take away just as easily as he gives. And that has made me thankful and grateful for every single opportunity I have as an athlete an as a Christ follower.

Do You Have Any Favorite Bible Verses?

Jeremiah 29:11 
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 
- This verse is my life verse and it is applicable to everything that I am. I've had to give my life to God and to trust that He will take care of me. Which He has, and still is.

What Is Your Opinion on God Using Ordinary People?

- I think it's amazing that God uses just "ordinary people" to impact the earth because with each "ordinary" story He reveals some sort of truth about Himself to us. Each trail and experience that we have is just His play book to impact a mere listener or bystander to His grace and glory. I also don't think the word ordinary captures who He is indeed using. He uses ALL of us, I don't think He picks certain people, everyone impact each other in some way or another. So in my experience not a single human being with a captivating story to tell is ordinary but extraordinary. 

What Are Your Ambitions For the Future?

- I hope to continue as a gymnastics coach working and sharing my passion for the sport with others who share my similar passions. But honestly, throughout my whole experience with what I want... it doesn't matter so much what I want, because God has control over my life, and I am but a humble servant who is willing to go and do whatever He calls me to do wherever He calls me.

07 October 2013

St. Leo LHP Brandon Mumaw

Describe Your Relationship with God.

I grew up going to church and Sunday school at our Catholic Church (Saint Anthony’s) every Sunday. I believe I had a relationship with God as a kid, as I prayed and talked to him daily, but I believe I truly started my walk with him my freshman year of college at age 18. My freshman year at Saint Leo I met John Zeller, our Team Chaplin, and he had a huge influence on me spiritually. He challenged me to give myself up to Christ and truly follow Him. I believe it was at this point that I fully (100%) gave my life to Christ and let Him take the wheel. It also helped that last summer I got the chance to play with the Niagara Power (FCA Baseball team in Niagara Falls). I got to meet so many great Christian baseball players who helped me grow in Christ. I was surrounded with great Christian guys all summer and I could not have asked for a better summer last summer.

 How Important Has God Been to Your Success Both As An Athlete?

I can honestly say that without God I would not be the baseball player I am today. He hasgiven me the talent and strength to play the game of baseball. Baseball is a very difficult game and it takes a lot of hard work to be successful at it. God has blessed me with some baseball talent and I feel it is my job to glorify Him through the game of baseball. Each time I take the field I tell Him how thankful I am for getting to play the game I love and I just ask that I am able to glorify him with all I do and not take the credit but give Him all the glory. Off the baseball field I try to give back to others and be the best role model I can. One thing I really enjoy doing is working baseball camps. I believe God is truly working in my life because he has given me many opportunities to work with kids. I have worked many baseball camps over the years and each time I take it as an opportunity to make a positive effect on someone’s life. One of the best camps I have ever been a part of is a baseball camp from last summer put on by my summer team. Last summer I played for the Niagara Power (a summer college baseball team sponsored by FCA). We put on a three day camp for the kids in the area. Not only did we teach them the game of baseball but we spent time with the kids teaching them the importance of God and how he lives in each one of us. I was so happy to be able to work with these kids and I actually saw how they changed in just a three day period. It was a great experience getting to spread the word and teach the game of baseball to the youth. 

 Do You Have Any Favorite Bible Verses?

Colossians 3:23 
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”

John 3:30 
“He must become greater; I must become less."

 What Are Your Ambitions for the Future?

Well I know God has great plans for me, it could be playing baseball or something completely different. I really hope to stay around the game of baseball, either as a player, coach, GM, or really anything just because I love the game. But, I would like to continue to make a difference in people’s lives. I really enjoy working with others and helping them out. My Dad taught me that it is important to give back to the ones who have helped you. I grew up with not many troubles or worries in my life and I thank God, my family, and friends for that. I try my best to give back and help the community I grew up in because those were the people who helped and spent time with me when I was younger. So overall, I do not know what I will be doing in the future. I can only pray that I will be making a difference in the lives of others and being a person that others can look up to.