Summer Camp Reimagined


Next week, Rick will be assisting with AIA’s Peak Performance Camp, a high-intensity co-ed sports camp for high school students who are ready to be challenged physically, spiritually and mentally. Each participant will have the opportunity to grow into a “Total Athlete” as they focus on the AIA Principles which will help them deal with issues like personal motivation, attitude, perseverance, winning and losing. They will be able to answer questions like: Who or what is worthy of my worship? What is the greatest motivation for my competitive best? How do I deal with success, injury and defeat?

The athletes will hear principles from God’s Word which they will practice in competitive labs as they learn how to worship God through sport, acknowledging His love and acceptance of them, regardless of their performance.

For many years, AIA has hosted similar camps for college and pro athletes called Ultimate Training Camp (UTC). Last year, Covid forced us to conduct it virtually, but that made it possible for hundreds more athletes and coaches to participate. This year, we are offering the UTC Sprint, an in-person/virtual hybrid, which we are taking to our students! Dozens of AIA college ministries will host UTCs near their campuses, allowing many more athletes to experience the life-changing message of the gospel as they learn to integrate God, life and sport. UTC Academy will be a virtual platform that allows athletes to go deeper into the content taught at our UTC events.

Two AIA colleagues, Ashley and Natasha, (both of whom I coached when they were interns), have been working on a contextualized version of UTC for HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). There are now 12 HBCU athletes helping our staff prepare for this camp with the hope that they will be able to serve as the first UTC: HBCU Edition interns when we launch this camp next summer, God willing.

Please join us in prayer that God will prepare the hearts of students who attend the Peak Performance Camp and that the HBCU Edition will be successfully launched so that we can see Christ-followers in every team, sport and nation.

Praise God for those laborers serving at the UTCs who are pouring out their lives to reach this generation for Christ!

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: June 2021 hard copy newsletter to print a card copy.

Can Soccer Spread the Gospel?


Shaun and Karlie

Shaun and Karlie, a couple I (Karen) am currently coaching, will be joining AIA’s soccer department. Isaac, the director of the department, recently used our brand-new sports performance facility to coach a group of boys from inner city Dayton. He and fellow soccer staff member, Karen work together to reach out to refugee and immigrant kids through “the beautiful game,” since soccer is played worldwide by 250 million, and is watched worldwide by 3.5 billion people. There are even kids from an unreached people group in the youth soccer program.

Isaac says, “Ohio winters offer limited opportunities for outside play. A lot of the kids we minister to don’t have transportation to, or can’t afford club sports, so they have no chance for training throughout the winter, but they have skill. Some could be good enough to get college scholarships. We can help build a brighter future for these kids. They, in turn, can reach their families and friends for Christ as they give back to their communities. We pray the Sports Performance Center will be a place of spiritual multiplication.”

A group of Dayton Soccer participants in the Sports Performance Center

Amos was a kid participating in The Academy, an invitation-only development camp held at the new center. He wanted the soccer help, but not the personal and spiritual stuff, so he dropped out. He got into some trouble, and a couple of months later he returned with an apology. “I want to come back. You wanted what’s best for me,” he acknowledged.

AIA soccer provides for kids’ needs through donating cleats, clothing, food, sports training and Bible study. We also partner with a local ministry called No Longer Strangers, which provides after-school tutoring and rides to our campus in Xenia. As we serve the total athlete by helping them grow physically, mentally and spiritually, we pursue our mission of building spiritual movements everywhere through the platform of sports so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: April 2021 newsletter to print a card copy.

Why don’t we create that community …


Bekah (second from left, back row) is an AIA intern I’ve had the privilege of coaching. She and our coworker Jenna serve with AIA basketball, and they’re coaching a high school basketball team.

Driving home from practice one night, they talked about how high school coaches lack support and resources to really excel in their positions of influence. Bekah says, “As high school coaches now ourselves, we honestly felt the same way. No one had really prepared us for the challenges of high school coaching (especially during a pandemic), and there isn’t much of a community for high school coaches that provides resources for us either.” The conversation led to their asking, “Why don’t we create that community and those resources?” They originally planned to reach out to local basketball coaches in the area and provide teaching and community for them as they tried to build relationships with them. By the end of the car ride, they’d agreed that, if it was over Zoom, they could open it up to coaches of all sports in the area, and since they were going to do that, they might as well open it up to all coaches of all sports.

“A few months later we were partnering with an organization called Leadership Foundations to put on the first-ever U18 Coaches’ Leadership Experience. We had former collegiate players, collegiate coaches, and the head coach of last season’s WNBA champions speak to the coaches, many of whom were from various states and countries and had never heard of AIA before the event. In the post-event survey, a number of them asked us to follow up with them so they could be involved in small groups and book/Bible studies. The coaches really enjoyed hearing from our different speakers and learned a great deal from them. It was beautiful to see how God transformed that car ride full of dreaming up ideas into a really exciting new avenue of ministry!”

Bekah is now working on a Player Development Program with high school athletes in India. “We are partnering with Sylvia Crawley, a former college coach/player and WNBA player, to do skill training on Zoom with the athletes. I am her ‘assistant coach,’ so I will be creating workouts for the athletes, demonstrating drills for them, and helping coach/correct them as they’re practicing. We are now also providing strength and conditioning from former NFL strength coach, Jeff Friday, and leadership development training from an AIA staff member and a sports psychologist in India,” she says.

“Our hope is to have the athletes come to Ohio this summer so they are able to train with us in person, while gaining experience playing basketball in America. AIA exists to help athletes and coaches grow physically, mentally and spiritually.” We are striving to reach new audiences with the gospel, and your partnership with us is making that happen.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: February 2021 newsletter to print a card copy.

What is a Coach’s Mission?


We’ve all had mentors. Why do some really make a difference? They probably pursued a personal relationship with you, as well as taught you the X’s and O’s, so you not only became a better athlete, musician or student, but you became more successful in life.

AIA recently held the U30 Leadership Experience, a multisport digital conference for 93 coaches of athletes under 30. Coaching requires pouring into athletes and students daily. As a coach, it’s hard to keep this up without someone pouring into you. The U30 was designed to refresh, equip, and build community for coaches so they can become influencers for God’s kingdom.

Jake
Amber

Here are four coaches’ takeaways. Find their comments by searching “U30 Impact” on YouTube.

• “One speaker told us: ‘Keep your barometer of success in your why.’ If you do not compare or worry about the opinions of others, but you trust God, success will follow.” Amber S.

• “I was able to connect with some great coaches, get some great insight and grow a lot spiritually and as a leader, especially through a Bible study afterward”. Jake B.

LaMeisha
Jordan


• “They really opened up my eyes to the bigger aspect of coaching — being able to give yourself a break, creating relationships with the kids and leading them to Christ.” Jordan C.

• “My biggest takeaway was to be intentional with my players, coaches, and peers. Greatness in God’s eyes is not found in how many serve the leader, but how faithfully the leader serves others.” LaMeisha L.

These digital conferences build not only coaching skills, but community to help coaches have godly influence on the next generation!

Praise God with us for these coaches who are investing their lives to make an eternal difference in the lives of others for His Glory!

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: November 2020 to print a hard copy newsletter.

New Beginnings and Introductions


(L to R: Annie, Emily, Elizabeth, Karen, Laura, Andrew Rick, Erica Pairrish, Bella, Ellie, Austin, Aaron)

A few weeks ago, our family and friends gathered to celebrate the wedding of our older son, Andrew to his love, Laura. Their wedding had to be postponed due to Covid-19, and they had to change their honeymoon plans four times due to changing travel restrictions, but God blessed us with a beautiful day for their outdoor wedding in Harpers Ferry, WV. We rejoice with them as they begin their life together as husband and wife.

“Let marriage be held in honor among all …” Hebrews 13:4

(L to R, Hailey, Kelly, Karen, Karen, Shaun, Karle)

These pictures feature new AIA staff members Karen is coaching. They are following God’s call to help fulfill the Great Commission by sharing Christ through the platform of sports. Your partnership is enabling us to mobilize a great team of Christ-centered laborers who will touch lives for eternity.

Brandon & Johnna

Hailey will be serving at Wright State U. and other schools in that area, Kelly will be serving in our Sports TEAM division in women’s basketball, Shaun and Karlie will be serving in the same division in soccer, and Brandon will be serving at the AIA challenge course. They will be sharing the gospel and discipling new believers both here and around the world. Thank you for partnering with us.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: October 2020 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Praise God with us for these men and women who are investing their lives to make an eternal difference in the lives of others for His Glory!

Kicking it into High Gear


Our AIA coworker (and former Marshall University kicker) Tyler is reaching out to football players around the Midwest and around the world for the sake of Christ. Tyler offers camps and private lessons for high school and college kickers.

Tyler (left) and Coach Friday (right)

He recently held a camp for 40 high school kickers, punters, and long snappers from Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, and Michigan. At the beginning of the camp, former NFL coach Jeff Friday shared his story of faith in Jesus. Then Tyler shared with the campers about the ministry of Athletes in Action. Also, each month 400-500 kickers participate in Zoom calls featuring several NFL greats such as, Butker, Vinatieri, Stover and Peterson.

Some of the campers have worked with Tyler one-on-one, which has given them opportunities to talk further about the gospel. An e-coaching app allows Tyler to get video from kickers and punters around the world which he can use to give them instructions. Tyler has become a certified kicking coach and works with fellow believer Brandon Kornblue, one of the top kicking coaches in the country. They partnered to produce an interview of pro kickers along with a devotion which almost 200 people participated in digitally.

Another digital tool Tyler uses is a YouTube video produced by Joel, another AIA coworker, called “Be A Total Athlete,” which aims at developing kickers physically, mentally and spiritually. Tyler leads about a dozen kickers around the world as they study the Bible.

Last year, one of the best kickers in all of Europe accepted Tyler’s invitation to get in-person training here in the hopes of pursuing a college scholarship, which he earned. This young athlete had never studied the Bible before and had never prayed aloud before, but he starts school in New Mexico in January and is continuing to study God’s Word with our faithful coworker.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: September 2020 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Praise God, for He is still the same today as yesterday! Let’s live out Ephesians 6:18 with each other. Your partnership makes a difference.

Can’t Stop Him


“I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).

God is powerfully at work accomplishing His good purposes, which even a pandemic can’t stop. Here are some examples of AIA’s digital outreach:

  • Track and field coaches coast to coast are meeting online for devotions. T&F is offering eight-week discipleship training for athletes who had planned to attend AIA international tours.
  • Football ministry is growing as college kickers join a Bible study with other kickers around the world.
  • Volleyball players who had planned to attend an AIA tour in Mauritius are studying the Bible together.
  • The Iron Circle, a group of 72 high school strength coaches, are studying the Bible together, and many are ministering at their schools.
  • Wrestlers who planned to attend AIA tours to Ukraine and Central Asia are participating in digital Bible studies. 
  • Thirty wrestling coaches from six countries in the former USSR are hearing the gospel weekly in a value-added coaches’ symposium.
  • Digital Coaches’ Training was piloted with 45 coaches from 15 countries, and they’re asking for more. 
  • Hockey players are being discipled through group and individual video calls.
  • Swimmers meet in a virtual Bible study.
  • AIA’s Sports Performance Institute is working with churches and ministries in India to engage even hostile audiences through digital and in-person basketball programming.
  • Basketball leadership academies reached nearly 200 athletes with quality leadership training presented by Christian pro players, coaches and leadership experts.
  • 603,000 people saw our Delay of Game posts on social media and 25,000+ watched Delay of Game videos.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: August 2020 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.