Category Archives: Sports

Book review: Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones speeds to glory

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

Based on the success Cullen Jones has displayed in swimming, one would find it hard to believe he almost drowned at Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, Penn., when he was 5 years old. But, Jones turned the horrific event into a positive. He learned how to swim, and 20-plus years later, he became a gold-medal winning swimming champion in the 50-meter freestyle at the Beijing summer games in 2008.

Jones, 28, the second African American in history to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming (400-meter freestyle with Michael Phelps, Jason Lezak, and Garrett Weber-Gale), places his faith, courage, and hard work in a children’s book titled “Speed to Glory: The Cullen Jones Story” (Zonderkidz; $6.99), currently in bookstores.

In the 2012 London Olympics, the North Carolina State University alum will participate in the men’s 100-meter freestyle (July 31 heat), men’s 400-meter relay (July 29 heat), and men’s 50-meter freestyle (Aug. 2 heat) at the 2012 summer games.

Written by Natalie Davis Miller, the book is truly inspirational. Whether it is swimming or in life, Jones wants readers to understand that commitment and trusting in God goes a long way.

Miller said Jones, who lists Proverbs as his favorite book in the Bible, attended church as a teen with his father and mother, the late Ronald Jones and Debra Jones. Although he is unable to attend church on a regular basis, Cullen Jones still devotes time in his schedule.

“I call on religion in every aspect of my life, whether I’m at the OIympic Games representing the USA or about to get on a plane to an event,” Jones said.

In the chapter “Finding Faith,” Miller said Cullen Jones keeps faith at the core of his daily life.

Jones also addresses the stereotypes about African American swimmers which exist. In chapter 12, “Make a Splash with Cullen Jones,” Miller describes how Jones came to create his swimming initiative, Make a Splash With Cullen Jones. In August 2010, Jones was taken aback by the drowning of six African American children in the Red River in Shreveport, La. This event prompted the gifted swimmer to partner with the USA Swimming Foundation and ConocoPhillips to help minorities across the country learn how to swim. In addition, Jones provides free to low-cost swimming lessons to children.

“Speed to Glory” is a simple read with a strong message: honor the steps His has provided to you, work hard, and always give back to others.

ScriptureArt debuts clothing line inspired by Josh Hamilton

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

Josh Hamilton fans can now share their love for Christ and the Texas Rangers all-star outfielder everywhere they go.

ScriptureArt, a provider of Christian gifts, home décor, and clothing, has created a line of clothing inspired by the life and testimony of Hamilton.

The Hamilton Tee Shirt Collectionis now available for purchase on ScriptureArt’s website, according to the company’s co-founder, Kelly Shiley.

“Josh has been amazingly transparent and out front about his struggles and about how his faith has helped him overcome them,” Shiley said. “His input was instrumental in helping us create designs that express that faith and dependence on God in authentic and graphically compelling ways.”

Hamilton, an outspoken Christian, has publicly acknowledged his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. This revelation, however, has not dampened his popularity. With 4.2 million votes, the 2010 Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player was the top vote-getter for the 2012 MLB All-Star Game.

He and his wife, Katie, who is also co-founder of ScriptureArt, have four daughters.

The t-shirts – with styles for men, women, and children – feature inspirational slogans such as “iBelieve,” “Believe This,” (the “T” resembles a cross), and “Play Hard, Pray Harder.”

Based in Raleigh, N.C. and Dallas, Texas, ScriptureArt was co-founded by the Josh Hamilton’s wife, Katie, and Shiley in July 2011 with a mission to develop high quality products and designs which inspire others to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Shiley said the company will showcase Hamilton’s line of inspirational clothing and many other creations at the AmericasMart trade show, from July 11-18 in Atlanta, Ga. Their booth (no. 1111) can be found in building 3, floor 5.

“We’re doubly excited to now be able to bring the Hamilton line of clothes and our other exclusive creations to the trade at wholesale pricing for the first time,” Shiley said.

Harbaugh finds gratification helping others in Peru

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside the Pew

During the 2011 NFL season, San Francisco 49er fans saw miraculously how first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh turned an off track 49er team into a squad that was one step away from representing the NFC in Super Bowl XLVI.

But, on-the-field successes cannot compare to the work one can do in His name. According to the Catholic News Agency (CNA), the former NFL quarterback was one of a several volunteers who traveled to Piura, Peru, on an eight-day mission trip to assist Most Blessed Sacrament Parish. The parish’s outreach, according to CNA, a women’s shelter, an orphanage, a drug rehabilitation center, a hospice facility and, most recently, tuition-free Catholic school for kindergarten through 11th graders.

According to Harbaugh, the Catholic school was opened in 2011, and has approximately 600 students in attendance.

“Every desk was full,” he said. “Three years ago when we came down here, the school was just an idea.”

The coach told news agency reporters volunteers helped build 20 homes and packaged and delivered rice and beans to supplement meals to 1,400 families.

Harbaugh, who recently completed his third trip to the impoverished town, said he learned about the trip through acquaintances at his parish in Menlo Park, Calif.

“It’s incredible the amount of work they do and they joy that they do it with,” the 48-year-old coach told the news agency.

An aspect of the trip that brought the reigning NFL Coach of the Year pride is the steady growth of the parish, headed by Father Joe Uhen since 1993. Harbaugh noted the abundance of individuals who participate in Mass.

“I’ve always been struck by the attendance and the joy they have for Mass,” Harbaugh said. “You can only describe that as the fruit of the Holy Spirit.”

Outreach to the residents of Piura doesn’t end with the trip. According to the report, Harbaugh said the Santisimo Sacramento helps American families and those in Peru connect through an “adoption.” The program – which Harbaugh is a participant – allows American families to supply scholarships, food, and basic housing items to needy Peruvian families.

Harbaugh said the mission trips are gratifying and allows him to put grow as a believer.

“The doors that God will open for you by the people you meet or by the circumstances you’re in (allow) your character to be shaped and your spirit to grow,” he said. “Those kinds of doors are opened for (me) here.

NFL wide receiver launches clothing line to give glory to God

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Editor’s note: This story originally ran April 8, 2010. At the time, Mark Clayton was a wide receiver for the Baltimore Ravens. As of April 25, 2012, Clayton is a receiver for the St. Louis Rams.

By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Mark Clayton has found faith in fashion.

With the creation of MyChristianT, Clayton said the line is here to set a new standard in the fashion world by displaying the

St. Louis Rams wide receiver Mark Clayton launched MyChristianT two years ago.

word of God through apparel. It will hopefully serve a ministering tool to nonbelievers and a daily reminder of God’s grace to believers.

The line was launched last month, the Dallas-area native and 2005 first-round draft pick of the Ravens said.

“Wear the shirt or hoodie and it allows you to be true to yourself and not be afraid to proclaim Christ,” Clayton told Inside The Pew while on location in Norman, Okla., watching a pre-NFL Draft practice held by fellow Oklahoma Sooner, quarterback Sam Bradford. “MyChristianT speak to my identity and my purpose, why I am breathing and who I am in Christ. Being a Christian is not just a list of beliefs, it’s a way of life. We understand what Christ has done for us, and we should not be ashamed of it.”

Youth and young adults (men and women) can adorn trending t-shirts, with slogans such as “Property of Jesus” and “Team A and Ω” (Alpha and Omega). The clothing, he said, allows people to look and feel good at the same time while showcasing their faith.

Clayton said he describes MCT is a cross between Ed Hardy, Affliction and Aeropostale but definitely carries its own identity and purpose.

“We are not here to sell God or conform to traditions or customs,” he said. “Nonbelievers think that being a believer is boring.

Mark Clayton

Actually, we have peace, love and joy.”

MyChristianT has a non-profit branch, MCT Ministries. Some of MCT Ministries programs include the college scholarship fund, Missionary Rewards program, Performing Arts League and the Outreach Activities Group.

“MCT believes such opportunities will not only be instrumental in helping people on their journey but will also create a divine movement of Christ followers and Christ-like leaders.”

To learn more about MyChristianT, visit www.mychristiant.com

Dan Reeves to receive Tom Landry Award at FCA benefit dinner

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By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

Former NFL head coach and NFL player Dan Reeves will receive the Tom Landry Excellence of Character Award during a dinner benefiting Greater Dallas Fellowship of Christian Athletes on April 22.

The dinner and program are slated to begin at 6 p.m. at the Westin Stonebriar Resort, 1549 Legacy Drive, in Frisco.

Dan Reeves

Reeves, who played and coached under Landry’s Cowboys, coached the Denver Broncos for 12 seasons, the New York Giants for three, and the Atlanta Falcons for seven. As head coach of the Broncos, Reeves took the team to six post-season appearances, five divisional titles, three AFC championships, and Super Bowls XXI, XXII, and XXIV. He led the Falcons to Super Bowl XXXIII where Atlanta lost to his former team, the Broncos, 34-19.

“This special evening will include a Q&A panel with Dallas Cowboy tight end, Jason Witten, as well as Cowboys tight ends coach John Garrett,” said Rick Bowles, FCA executive director, Dallas. “Also, Benjamin Utecht, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, will provide the music. This is a favorite of many athletes and one of Dallas’ best events of the year.”

Former past recipients of the honor include Bobby Bowden, Pat Williams, S. Truett Cathy, Roger Staubach, Kenneth Cooper, James and Shirley Dobson, Howard Hendricks, coach Grant Teaff, the Rev. Billy Graham, and coach Jim Myers.

A silent and live auction with one-of-a-kind items up for bid include a cruise with Michael W. Smith, major trips, sports packages and autographed memorabilia.

To purchase tickets for the event, visit www.fcadallas.org/tlo or call 214-739-8003.

Wesleyan men’s golf squad takes Dallas Baptist invitational

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By Josh Lacy
Special to Inside The Pew

DALLAS – The third-ranked Texas Wesleyan University men’s golf team notched  the program’s 197th win overall and second win of the season by taking the Dallas Baptist Patriot Invitational at the Golf Club of Dallas on April 10.

On April 9, the team posted the second best single round in the storied history of the program with an opening round of 269.  A second round of 284 put them at the program’s second best score through 36 holes and gave them a three stroke lead heading into Tuesday’s final round.

Nathan Anderson placed final round 282 with a card of 69. That round was not quite enough to catch the 1961 team’s performance at the Abilene Intercollegiate (a 54-hole score of 835 was again the program’s second best all-time), but it was good enough to run away from the field.  The Rams took the tournament by 13 shots over Lubbock Christian University, while top-ranked Oklahoma Christian University finished third at 849.

Meanwhile, Anderson’s 69 put him at -3 (207) for the tournament a vaulted him from a tie for eighth to the top of the leader board. Anderson finished in a tie with DBU’s Brandon Johnson and St. Edward’s University’s Santiago Quintero.  After a playoff that went three holes, Johnson prevailed as the individual medalist.

Zach Monson shot even par on Tuesday to finish in a tie for fourth, one stroke behind Anderson.  Jose Rolz shot 72 on Tuesday to tie for 14th (210) in the field of 96 individuals.  Joel Thelen shot 71 and tied for 17th at 211.  Dillon

Watkins shot a round of 76 on Tuesday and tied for 34th (217).  Dylan Anthony also competed as an individual and placed 67th with a score of 224.

The tournament was the final regular season action for the Rams.  They will compete for a ninth consecutive Red River Athletic Conference Championship when they take the course at Teravista in Round Rock, April 16-17.

Hardin-Simmons set for Division III week activity

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By Chad Grubbs
Special to Inside The Pew

ABILENE, Texas – Hardin-Simmons’ athletic teams will host a field day in conjunction with the Special Olympics of Texas on April 11 at the HSU track.

The field day is part of the partnership between Division III and the Special Olympics and the kids that will be participating will use it as part of their training for their regional track and field meet that will be held on May 5.

“This gives us the opportunity to interact with the Special Olympic athletes and we probably end up getting more out of it than the Special Olympic kids,” said Rebecca Roth HSU’s President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. “We really learn a lot from them and it will be a fun day.”

HSU picked the date of April 11 because it coincides with the inaugural Division III Week Campaign by the NCAA.

The NCAA national office also will be focusing attention on the Special Olympics partnership during the NCAA Division III Week celebration which takes place this week. Division III will donate $1 (up to $5,000) to Special Olympics for every new “Like” posted through April 15 on the division’s Facebook page, and also plans events for staff members to celebrate the week in Indianapolis.

It also will monitor conferences’ and schools’ use of social media (including Facebook and Twitter), watching for opportunities to link to or “retweet” Division III Week messaging.

The event is part of Division III’s identity initiative, which was introduced in 2010 to provide an assortment of tools and programs for use in sharpening the division’s identity, and to enable schools and conferences to consistently explain to constituencies ranging from prospective student-athletes to the local community why they prefer to compete in Division III.

MLB pitcher Clayton Kershaw expands challenge for 2012

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

LOS ANGELES – For Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher and defending Cy Young Award recipient and Regal author Clayton Kershaw every strikeout in 2012 matters — for his team on the field and also for children at risk on two continents.

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw kicks off the second year of Kershaw's Challenge.

According to a news release, Kershaw and his wife, Ellen, have announced that for the second consecutive year they will donate $100 each time he strikes out an opposing batter as the centerpiece of what they call Kershaw’s Challenge: Striking Out to Serve. During the 2012 season, which begins today with Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers in San Diego, the funds will go to four diverse non-profit causes, including one in Southern California, one in the Kershaw’s home state of Texas, a national movement called “I Am Second,” and the work with orphans in Africa that started it all.

Kershaw’s Challenge: Strike Out to Serve (www.kershawschallenge.com), which has just been re-launched, began in 2011. For each of the league-leading 248 batters the Dodger ace struck out last season, he and his wife, Ellen, gave $100 to help build a new children’s home in Zambia, teaming up with Arise Africa (www.Ariseafrica.org). Kershaw also donated a portion of the monetary prizes he received for baseball honors and added direct contributions from others to bring the total amount raised to $202,000.

In January 2012, the Kershaw’s traveled to Lusaka, Zambia, for the second consecutive off-season, walking the land where the new home is now under construction. To be called Hope’s Home, this orphanage will be a safe haven for about one dozen at-risk children.

“Our inspiration is a 12-year-old girl named Hope,” said Kershaw, a native of Highland Park. “She is an HIV orphan who stole our hearts. She desperately needs a place to call home.”

The Kershaws tell the story of their dream to serve others in Zambia (and baseball stories, too) in Arise, a book they co-authored and released in January 2012.

Seventy-percent of the 2012 Kershaw’s Challenge proceeds will go toward Arise Africa projects in Zambia, including furnishing the orphanage, purchasing adjacent farmland so the children can learn to grow crops, building a chicken coop, establishing a medical emergency fund and funding a child feeding program.

Why Zambia? As a high school student, Ellen Kershaw was moved by a segment on orphans in Africa featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. In college, she decided to make a difference, and has now traveled to Zambia six times, joining forces with Arise Africa.

The Kershaws remain committed to Africa, but their desire strike out to serve goes further. Thirty percent of the proceeds from the 2012 challenge will go to three nonprofit organizations, each receiving 10 percent. The Kershaws will partner with the Peacock Foundation in Los Angeles (www.peacockfoundation.org), Mercy Street in Dallas (www.mercystreetdallas.org) and I Am Second (www.iamsecond.com).

The Peacock Foundation uses rescued animals in a therapy program to bring healing to at-risk and traumatized children and their families throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Kershaws Challenge will help fund a Peacock Foundation program called Creature Comfort.

Mercy Street seeks to see transformation in a west Dallas, Texas, neighborhood, through mentoring, sports and community development. Kershaws Challenge will fund a youth baseball program for inner city kids with baseball equipment.

I Am Second is a nationwide grassroots and media campaign that empowers people in various walks of life to live for God and others. Clayton Kershaw’s I Am Second film went live online April 5.

Kershaw said the essence of Kershaw’s Challenge: Striking Out to Serve is that the better you do, the more you give, making whatever you do about something more.

“Baseball is more than just a passion of mine. It’s a platform to do more, to give back to our community, and to make a difference in the world.” In 2011, the Kershaws were thrilled when college, high school and little league baseball players joined The Challenge, donating 25 cents or $1 or more per batter they struck out or per hit they got. Non-athletes partnered, too, donating various amounts.

Hughes: Whither Tebow?

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By Paul Hughes
Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s note: The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inside The Pew staff.

So the question now is whether the future holds a place for Tim Tebow in the NFL.

Well my goodness they didn’t think he belonged there before Peyton Manning signed with the Broncos … so who cares what

What is next for Tim Tebow?

they say now?

When he was succeeding, they said he shouldn’t be. He just shouldn’t.

Why not?

He shouldn’t be succeeding because my … gosh! … just look at him! He shouldn’t be succeeding because he shouldn’t.

Perhaps you begin to see the problem with that reasoning.

Then they were bugged because he was proving them wrong.

Now what?

Deciding whether — or where — Tebow should play when you aren’t the one deciding is like asking if Google+ will topple Facebook. As if you could know.

Tebow will be fine.

And anyway, we don’t know.

Apropos of recent news — where will Peyton Manning sign? — I remember January, when the Colts fired their head coach, Jim Caldwell. The day before he was gone, as one report noted:

Things were so clouded Monday that Caldwell even met with former Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo about possibly becoming the Colts’ new defensive coordinator, and as late as Tuesday morning, the conventional wisdom was that Caldwell would stay.

Then things changed almost as suddenly as the Colts’ fortunes in 2011.

A day before he was fired, the coach met with someone to interview him for a job on his staff! In less than 24 hours, he was gone.

We just don’t know.

He never got real public support from either head coach John Fox or John Elway. These are the areas where support is routinely expressed … but not here.

They had a chance to build a team around the guy, and now another team will have that chance. The conventional wisdom says they will trade him.

Of course, conventional wisdom has been wrong before, and maybe Manning will train Tebow, instead of punch his ticket out.

If they do trade him, the new team will make it work.

Tebow’s a sinner saved by grace — yes — and knows his faith and football both come from God.

But he’s also an elite. He’s an awesome football player.

We may not like elitism … but we love excellence.

Elites.

Tim Tebow is one of them. He’s an elite. He’s in a place every day and a tougher place every week, and one that none of us, critics included, will ever see. He’s better than 1 percent of 1 percent of the world at this.

 

The oldest ugliest brokenest Major League Baseball journeyman utility infielder hitting .230 … the guy who might see a homerun once every 30 games … unless he’s watching his teammates when they’re up … who will never see the inside of Cooperstown unless he buys a ticket or they ask him to introduce someone who got voted in … is a better baseball player than any of us.

Let that sink in here.

Tebow’s good at football.

And he’s pretty good, period.

The more we know about Tim Tebow, the more we like him.

But even that — whether we like him or not — is of no ultimate concern.

Tebow’s New Testament namesake knew a little about pressure and derision.

And Tebow will get better and better.

This I am almost sure of.

And it will be OK.

This I do know.

He’ll be fine.

I recall C.S. Lewis writing somewhere, “If the Lord lets me keep writing, then blessed be He.  And if He does not — then blessed be He.” This was in the early 1960s, a few years before his death. The Lord, it appears, did not let him keep writing.

Blessed be He.

Paul Hughes is a writer in Southern California. This column is partly excerpted from his book, Tebow: Throwing Stones (Kindle). Follow him on Twitter @poetandpriest.

Peyton Manning in at Denver, Tim Tebow likely to be traded

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By Mark Ellis
ASSIST News Service

The Denver Broncos quarterback who stole the hearts of believers around the country with his bold witness for Christ on and off the field, will be traded by the Broncos after they finalize contract negotiations for quarterback Peyton Manning.

The legendary Indianapolis Colts QB delivered the news to Broncos vice president of operations John Elway on March 19,

Peyton Manning, left, and Tim Tebow in 2010.

according to ESPN. Manning also called the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans to inform them of his intent to play for Denver, they reported.

Manning will be the next quarterback of the Broncos, unless there are unforeseen problems in final contract negotiations. Once the Manning deal becomes official, Denver will initiate efforts to trade Tebow, ESPN noted.

Denver’s team was 1–4 before Tebow became the starter, but immediately began winning with him on the field, often by coming from behind late in the fourth quarter in spectacular –even “miraculous” ways, until they won the AFC West title.

Tebow, the son of missionaries in the Philippines, has evoked strong emotions from critics and fans — ranging from adulation to disdain – but it never fazed him. Some criticize his throwing motion, some his reliance on an unorthodox option offense. Some believe the attacks may have been a thinly veiled response to his bold proclamations of faith.

Off the field, Tebow’s foundation is partnering with CURE International to build a 30-bed surgical facility for children focusing primarily on orthopedics on the island of Mindanao, where his parents are based.

No glitches are expected in the final contract details between Manning and the Broncos.  Elway and Manning first discussed the parameters of a five-year, $95 million contract during their March 9 meeting in Denver, the first time the quarterback visited a team during his free agency, ESPN reported.

ESPN NFL analyst Mark Schlereth maintains the Broncos were never sold on Tebow. Many seem to think Manning will be a better fit – “a kindred spirit” – with Elway and the Broncos.

Some Broncos players celebrated the news on Twitter; other analysts thought Manning should have picked the 49ers instead.

Tebow led the Denver Broncos to an 8-8 finish, an AFC West title and a first-round playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.