Seasons of Training


This past Summer was an intense one for  Molly Drooger, Jessie Niemi, and Brooke Morley as they  participated in a  “season of training” while they played and interned for the Charlotte Lady Eagles  the women’s elite soccer team operated by Missionary Athletes International.   When the  season was over, Molly and Jessie took the skills that they learned, and applied them  doing urban ministry and living in a refugee neighborhood in Charlotte, North Carolina during the last nine months.  Meanwhile, Brooke has been coaching girls soccer at Charlotte Latin High school, and works with the Charlotte Eagles in the YMCA coaching program–a new program, training and equipping volunteer recreational coaches.

From March 9th to 12th, these three girls, having been trained on Eagles teams, looked to apply their training in a week-long spring term class for a school called Arborbrook Christian academy. The class was designed to cover sports and nutrition from a biblical perspective, so it was the perfect opportunity to introduce sports ministry to their young students. Molly, Jessie and Brooke knew they were “equipped” with enough tools and information to pass down some of their knowledge and stories of their experiences to these kids.

By the end of the week, all of the students had been introduced to the concept of sports ministry. The theme of the week was Confidence in Christ. Students learned all week about their identity and how that related to having confidence as a son and daughter of God. “I learned how to apply God to sports and confidence” one student said. Another wrote, “I learned that confidence and trust really apply to being a team.” Confidence is something that so many young people are hungry for but often don’t seek the right source. Too often youth seek out the temporary exchanging it for the eternal identity we can find in being a child of God.

We at MAI are so proud to provide our communities all over the country, with tangible examples of players and coaches who get it. Missionaries who are seeking to find confidence in their Creator and would love to tell others about it too.

Please consider giving today, your gift helps us to continue delivering this message and providing our communities with these examples.



Remembering Dean: Good Dads are Hard to Find


“Good dads these days are hard to find. Perhaps we’ve brought it on ourselves. Just watch any television show. Dads are spoofed, maligned, caricatured and generally disrespected.” – Dean Smith and Dads Article – Charlotte Observer, February 12, 2015 (see link below)

It’s true. And it’s not often recognized. The article quoted above details the impact that Dean Smith, former UNC Men’s Basketball Coach, had on the generations of players that he coached. The article was written by Marilyn Chadwick, the wife of a man who had previously played for Coach Smith. Although she never personally played for him, she experienced the ripple effect of his influence.

Chadwick points out that Dean is thought of as a second father to so many young men who have passed through his program. “Good dads are that reservoir of safety and unconditional love for which all kids hunger,” she states. Coach Smith certainly acted like a good dad to his players. He expected excellence both on and off the court. He set the bar incredibly high. But his players knew they were “family.” And they responded by achieving more than anyone thought possible. Young athletes gave their all for this man who cared more about his players’ success than his own, Chadwick added.

It is so easy for coaches to become father-figures to their players. They are in a position of pure influence and authority. But it isn’t always easy for them to exemplify these traits; values can easily be lost in a society that says fathers are “un-cool”.

There is no shortage of people in positions of authority today-nor will there ever be. But strong and principled leaders, impactful and transformational coaches, will always be in short supply. Coach Smith was in a position of authority just like many others coaches of his day- the difference is that his legacy is not only about wins and losses, but about the way he impacted the boys who played for him, turning them into men of principle and character.

As a coach, you may never be in as prominent a position as Dean Smith was, or become as famous as he became, but you will have the extraordinary privilege of influencing the lives of youth and young adult players who participate in sports programs. The importance of this type of work can’t be under-stated. Dennis Rainey, president of Family Life Today, said that “a society where the men “get it right,” is the foundation not only for a strong home, but ultimately even for a strong country.”

While our culture today may not always be sending the right message about leadership, influence, and fatherhood, Missionary Athletes International is seeking to contribute to the solution. At each one of its branches, across the United States, MAI is focusing its resources on training coaches who will be transformational and influential figures in their player’s lives. We believe that through a “season of training” these coaches can spend a lifetime serving youth and transforming lives by modeling the right kind of influence to their players– influence that chooses to use authority to teach young men and women what it means to follow Jesus.

If you would like to support the work of MAI or any of its missionaries

It started with a craft box.

This story is told by one of our “Urban Eagles” a coach who has decided to live in an at-risk neighborhood alongside families she ministers to and kids she coaches…

How does craft night with a middle school girl from Thailand produce a visual testimony to the values that Urban Eagles wish to instill in each girl’s heart? This story shows just how powerful the presence of a coach can be in a neighborhood.

One night after school, Namphon walked over to our apartment in search of our craft box. We let her use whatever she wanted from the box while we cleaned the kitchen. An hour or so later, we noticed that she had made a collage of words and pictures. We took a closer look at each one while Namphon told us how each word or phrase made her think of her urban eagles community…


Practices allow us to connect with our players regularly…a key to discipleship


On the top left corner she used stickers to piece together the word “family.” She feels like this team is as valuable to her as her family is. We are like another family to her.


On the right, she made a banner that says “love.” It is raised above the poster and rests a little bit higher than all of the other words. We have been focusing on teaching the girls about Jesus’ love during bible studies on Tuesday nights.


Namphon glued a piece of paper that says “best friends always” to the bottom of the poster, and drew a smiley face next to it. She’s made some of her closest friendships with the girls and coaches on the team. She loves spending time with all of us, even if that means something as seemingly simple as coming over to make a craft on a Tuesday night.


She added a really big soccer ball to the middle of the poster that says good times over it. She’s learned that soccer isn’t what defines her, but that she can absolutely have “good times” while playing together with her team. She even added a picture of noodles (her favorite food) to go along with the soccer ball.


Lastly, Namphon made a little flap that opens up on the poster. The two sides of the flap say “God beside” and it opens up to “me always.” It forms the phrase, “God beside me always.” Namphon has learned that God loves her, God is part of her family, God is her friend, and that God won’t ever leave her.

Namphon didn’t realize how valuable her poster was to us. Isn’t this oftentimes the case? We don’t always get to see the impact of the fruit that we are bearing. It can be so easy to forget that it is there at all. But Christ is always moving. It is in these small moments that God gives us a gift. A not-so-subtle reminder of His goodness.


We don’t always see the fruit we bear as coaches…

C.S. Lewis once said, “all ground is holy. And every bush, could we but perceive it, is a burning bush.”

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