Faith and Baseball

In 12 years of baseball camp, today was perhaps the most memorable day that I can recall. Simply put, Thursday was rough on our team and I was a bit concerned how they would bounce back today as the camp had a slate of six games.

After dropping their first game, they managed to string together five-straight wins while gaining plenty of confidence, supporting their teammates and overcoming adversity. We lost two of our campers due to injury today and the team came together and found a way to win. The coolest part was that I was able to play defense with them – granted it was right field and I had to dial it back. It was a great experience to be able to share my passion for the game of baseball with the campers by playing alongside them.

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However, the most important moment today came during our team time session where I was able to share my testimony which focuses on my Dad’s stroke. If you haven’t heard the story, let me know and I’ll gladly share it with you. Long story short – I told the campers that if my Dad had not suffered a stroke in 2003, I likely wouldn’t have been speaking with them in Germany and I likely would have never met them. His stoke changed his life, my life, my mom’s life, my sister’s life and the lives of our friends and family.

God has a plan for all of our lives and we have to trust in him through faith. Using the story of my Dad, the campers were very attentive and even asked several follow-up questions about God. One of my favorite memories growing up was playing catch with my Dad in our front lawn. To share his story at baseball camp while explaining God’s Grace, that was a tremendous feeling and I hope that a foundation was planted for my team so that they may ask more questions – not just about my Dad – but of God’s love for us.

Evening Service + Q&A

Tonight during our evening service we celebrated the 12-year partnership between FBCTW and the church in Lübbecke. The relationships that we have developed during the last dozen years have created what we have coined a baseball family that is focused on God.

While The Woodlands and Lübbecke have enjoyed a rich relationship throughout the years, we partnered with a church based in Kyle, Texas, during camp this week. Jonathan Leftwich is the senior pastor at Fellowship Church at Plum Creek and I sat down with him this evening to discuss his impressions of baseball camp and what his takeaways will be as Plum Creek begins to evaluate a prospective partnership with a Germany church. Click the SoundCloud link below to listen.

What If I Stumble?

As it turns out, the Big Red Machine can be stopped – temporarily.

After beginning the camp with a perfect 4-0 record, our team dropped their two games today, but I think it was for the best. Although we stumbled, we were able to see some things that we could improve upon and I feel that the team became more open and supportive of one another – and more receptive during team time sessions.

My campers wanted to see me take a few swings in the batting cage this afternoon — it felt great.

When it comes to the team stumbling, the first thing I was reminded of was the DC Talk song “What if I stumble,” which you can listen to here. To me, that song has a direct connection with our team time discussion today that focused on Romans 5:8-9. The song centers upon Christians and their constant struggle with missing the mark and falling short in life. Romans tells us that Christ died for the ungodly – which is all of us. It’s not based on how loveable we are, but God’s supreme love for us. Essentially, Christ paid our debt and reconciled our sin because God has unconditional love for us.

As mentioned earlier this week, baseball camp is more than just winning and losing – and I hope that our team was able to see that today through our games as well as team time and our discussions.

Q&A with Thomas Albrecht

Continuing with our interview series today, I spoke with Thomas Albrecht who plays an instrumental role in organizing the annual camp in Germany. Find out what he has to say about Baseball Camp in Lübbecke.


Reds move to 4-0; Cheer Camp is on Fire

First off, thanks to everyone for reading these posts and sending me emails or texts – it means a lot and is quite encouraging.

Cheer Camp in Germany

With rain in the forecast this morning, we dodged a bit of a bullet and had sunshine all day with temperatures in the mid-80s – perfect baseball weather! For those of you keeping track, the Reds moved to a perfect 4-0 on the season and outscored their opponents 13-3 with all three proving to be unearned. The kids are having a great time and are quite responsive to our discussions both on and off of the field. Tonight we’ll meet up at the church for an evening service with great music and games.

Here’s a quick video from the afternoon of the team running out to their positions.

Cheer Camp

As mentioned yesterday, Cheer Camp has become quite popular here in Lübbecke and has been the highlight of the week for many of our campers. I had the chance to speak with our cheer coordinator, Tammy Washburn, following today’s camp. Take a listen as she discusses some of the highlights of the week and how the camp has grown here in Germany.

That’s all for now! As they say in Germany, tschüss!

The Big Red Machine

Today marked the first official day of baseball camp in Lübbecke and it was quite the success. With nearly perfect temperatures in the mid-70s, more than 200 campers showed up this morning – about 120 for baseball and 80 for our cheer camp.

We opened this morning with a meeting between the coaches, translators and volunteers and I was tasked with leading our devotional of the day which covered Ephesians 2:8-10 – Grace through Faith. I stressed that baseball camp is more than a game and that this week is not about winning or losing. Rather, our primary focus here is to use baseball as the tool to glorify God by making disciples who transform the world.

My team, the Reds, is comprised of campers ranging between 15 and 18 and you can meet them by watching the below video. At work, one of our core values is One Team and the Reds are the perfect example of what that means. The entire group is highly supportive and many are camp four-year camp veterans.

Transitioning from a station leader to a coach has been a great experience and allows us to develop one-on-one relationships with our core group of campers while being intentional about discipleship. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the rest of the week has in store.

Q&A with Darryl Egley

While trying to upload a video interview yesterday, I realized that it would be a difficult task with a spotty internet connection. With that being said, I really liked the Q&A format that we had and wanted to continue that as the week moved along. However, today our audio is actually audible. Please listen below as I spoke with Darryl Egley about his experience at the baseball camp and what his outlook is for the remainder of the week.

As always, please leave comments and/or feedback below.

Baseball Camp Preview with Krischaan Albrecht

UPDATE: While waiting for the video to load to YouTube, you can listen to the audio on SoundCloud or you can listen to it below!

Hey, everyone. Thanks for following along as I post updates from baseball camp. I wanted to let you all know that I recorded a video interview with Krischaan Albrecht on my GoPro this evening. The audio is a bit faint but it’s a good outlook on what the camp has meant for the community her in Lübbecke. With that being said — hold tight. The video is taking quiet a while to upload. I’m hoping to have a compressed file loaded shortly. Stay tuned.

Germany Bound

Editor’s Note: After 595 days, I know everyone has eagerly awaited my latest post. Well, here it is!

It’s that time of year again – baseball camp in Germany. For the past 13 years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Lübbecke, Germany, for a sports-based mission trip that uses baseball as the tool to glorify God by making disciples who transform the world.

From July 20-25 we will host our annual camp in Lübbecke for approximately 120 kids that range from ages 8 to 18. For the first time, I will be transitioning from an instructor that teaches the fundamentals of the game, to a coach, which is tasked with working one-on-one with a team of ~12 campers while building relationships with them on and off of the field.1930619_576198446623_2958_n

I’m thoroughly excited to see what God has in store for us during the baseball camp and cannot wait to see how the week pans out. Throughout the camp I will be posting updates on this website as well as photos on my Instagram page.

For those asking how you can help, I’d recommend prayer that we can reach the campers that aren’t familiar with Ephesians 2:8.

Growth Group

As many of you know, I’ve been involved with a Growth Group at GBC Houston. Growth Groups cover some of the most foundational truths and ministry skills needed to participate in God’s Kingdom work. In 2014, I was a member of a group, and in 2015 I have served as a co-lead for a great group here in Houston.

I feel that the last 1.5 years have helped to prepare me for my new role as a coach for our camp.

Podcast

And one last plug before we call it a night. Late last month, I had an opportunity to record a podcast with Rachel Duke that covers John 5. If you are looking for something to listen to while you work, I’d recommend giving it a listen by clicking on this link.

HOLD THAT TIGER: Memphis U’s Coach Builds With H-Town Ties

As mentioned in prior posts, I’ve dialed back signifigantly in my sports writing career due to work obligations. However, below is my latest feature for VYPE Magazine profiling Memphis head coach Josh Pastner. He was a phenomenal interview and is doing great things at Memphis.

HOLD THAT TIGER: Memphis U’s Coach Builds With H-Town Ties
by Austin Staton

Basketball is a way of life for the University of Memphis head coach Josh Pastner. At the age of 36, the Kingwood, Texas-native has spent time under the tutelage of perhaps the greatest minds in the game of basketball and has quickly become one of the elite young coaches at the collegiate level.

Josh Pastner

Josh Pastner grew up in Kingwood, Texas, and currently is the head basketball coach at the University of Memphis.

For Pastner, he has spent the last 18 seasons at the NCAA Division I level as a player, staff member, assistant coach and head coach while guiding teams to 12 conference championships during the span.

“I loved the game of basketball growing up and I recognized that my playing days would eventually come to an end,” says Pastner, who has posted a 106-34 record as the Memphis coach. “I knew the adrenaline rush of coaching and I really focused all of my energy towards that at a young age and was very fortunate to be at the University of Arizona and then at Memphis before becoming the school’s head coach.”

While learning the intricacies of the game under the likes of Lute Olson, John Calipari and Kingwood’s Royce Huseman, Pastner says that much of the credit to his coaching success came from his days as a coach for the Houston Hoops AAU program.

“Without that experience as an AAU coach, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn,” says Pastner, who has coached nearly 25 NBA Draft selections as an NCAA head or assistant coach and AAU head coach. “I was recruiting, making travel plans and managing personalities so the program is something that has helped shape me today.”

But for Pastner, his connection to Houston Hoops runs much deeper than the coaching experience – his father Hal founded the program while he was in grade school.

“It just evolved and it gave us a great connection and an opportunity to spend time together in different areas,” he says. “I’ve cherished that time and my father is my best friend. I’m able to bounce things off of him and he is able to give me a good perspective on things with both the game of basketball and life.”

As a young coach coming off back-to-back regular season conference championships and three-straight berths to the NCAA tournament, Pastner focuses his efforts on creating positive energy and a positive atmosphere for his players while setting the standard for a high-level of excellence.

The 2013-14 edition of his Memphis Tigers are one the three favorites in the newly-formed American Athletic Conference and boast a preseason Top 15 ranking in the Associated Press basketball poll.

Despite the success and expectations that Pastner has experienced, he’s still humble to his beginnings and recognizes his past when looking towards his future.

“Not in one second in my wildest dreams did I talk about being the head coach at Memphis … and it happened at 31 years of age,” he says. “When I got the job, I felt that my experiences coaching AAU basketball prepared me to be the head coach.

“That experience is because of Houston basketball. There are so many great coaches on the high school and AAU level and there are so many great players in Houston – it’s a hotbed and one of the great basketball cities in all of the United States of America.”