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.


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.


• “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.

The Mission Continues

Given what most businesses and schools have experienced since March, it would be logical that sports ministry would be in the same boat. But God has opened unprecedented doors for ministry precisely because of the pandemic.

When Jesus told his disciples to pivot and they obeyed, (John 21:6) the result was unimaginable fruitfulness. Eric Nelson, director of Athletes in Action’s Sports T.E.A.M. division says, “Crises produce problems and opportunities. Our staff have stepped into this opportunity and are living out the pioneering missionary spirit that drew them to staff in the first place. Unprecedented connection with athletes and coaches around the world has been the resulting fruit. The strategies have changed, but the end goal has stayed the same. We are sharing the gospel, making disciples and sending people to be on mission through the virtual avenue.”    

The recent UTC Every illustrates this opportunity.  Athletes from 222 campuses and 27 countries participated in the first UTC Every, a shortened, digital version of our Ultimate Training Camp, which is held annually in several cities. A total of 925 people participated, including staff members and interns. At the conclusion, 293 people expressed a commitment to follow Jesus with their whole hearts.

One UTC Every camper said, “Volleyball has always played a huge part in my life…Being with AIA attending Winter Retreat and now UTC Every has had a tremendous impact on my life and how I lead my team. I’m forever thankful for the men and women who devote their lives to helping athletes like me grow close to God through their sport, but then also teach us how to use our sport as a platform to share the gospel and play for an Audience of One.” Thank you for your partnership with us in winning people to Christ, building them up in their relationship with Him and sending them out as laborers in the harvest. God is not limited by a pandemic. What He is accomplishing through your prayer and financial support of this ministry is amazing.  We are grateful!

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: June 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.

I Would Have Done Anything for This

One corona casualty was AIA’s women’s basketball leadership academy until the director, Jenna Bolin, had an idea: What if we tried it virtually? We could offer it to many more people because there wouldn’t be a need for travel, housing or food costs. And so, what normally lasts about a week was condensed into a virtual weekend retreat.

Womens Leadership Acad 2020

(The image is not a link.  You can visit the leadership academy website by clicking here.)

All Division 1 (and some D2 and D3) women’s basketball coaches were invited to “send” players whose leadership they wanted to develop. Previous academies held at AIA’s HQ averaged about a dozen participants, but God was about to blow the doors off our expectations! So many players signed up that we had to offer a second weekend and had 10 times the participants!

The leadership academy speakers included WNBA coaches and players and leadership experts. Their value-added training was delivered from the context of their faith in Jesus. Sports analyst Shelly Till, a former D1 player and coach who now has two kids playing D1 basketball, had a great platform to talk about mental health and vulnerability. Every speaker emphasized leading through relationships by loving and serving one’s teammates.

Bekah Walter, an AIA intern I coach and a former college basketball player, led one of the cohorts for small group breakout sessions. She says, “I would have done anything to have this in college! I was a leader, but I had no direction or goals to lead. I didn’t know how to maximize my strengths. We were all leading against the way our coach was leading.”

Bekahwalter 2020

Each participant at the academy was encouraged to find a definition of success that’s bigger than a scoreboard or a season. By the end, each was able to identify an area for growth, and all left with personal development plans. Most expressed a desire for continued involvement with AIA. This will open doors for the gospel.

We are keenly aware that Covid-19 is impacting you and adding to challenges your family is facing. Please tell us how we can pray for you! We love you!

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: May 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.