Embrace the Fall Freshness

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For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:11

If you coach a fall sport, you have a terrific advantage: in general, you are coaching kids who are mentally and physically fresh. Most student-athletes have enjoyed a leisurely summer vacation or mundane work schedule for several weeks, and they are now secretly pining to get back to school (the social part at least—not the homework part). They want to see their friends and teammates, and they are probably more likely to listen to instruction once the season starts. After practicing and training during the summer months, they’re anxious to show off their new skills. They’re ready to take on the new year.

Coaches are generally much fresher in the fall too. You may have relaxed on a vacation, spent more time with family, and perhaps even had a chance to attend some coaching clinics or do some research on new coaching tips and drills. More than likely, you even ran some summer camps for your teams or coached your athletes in summer leagues. Since the fall sports season is the first one on a school calendar, the summer provides a convenient tune-up or warmup act to the main event.

While coaching is a year-round endeavor for many sports in this day and age, hopefully you did have a chance to get away from your sport to recharge and refresh. Maybe you learned more about coaching techniques, how to motivate people, or the finer details of your particular sport. More importantly, I hope you had a chance to spend some time studying and reflecting on God’s Word for your own spiritual growth as well as how you might become a stronger, bolder Christian witness to your team.

Whatever you did or did not do over the summer, remember that your student-athletes will never be more mentally prepared to listen and follow your lead than in the fall. Take advantage of a new school year, a new beginning. The fall sports season is a great time to start over, refocus, and rededicate yourself to the opportunities and calling you have been given as a Christian coach. Be deliberate in thinking through a biblical theme for your team. Work ahead and create some devotions, biblical applications, or short Bible studies that you know will fit your team’s personality, challenges, and gifts. Review the fall devotions in One Team, One Spirit (available for preorder now!) and pick out a few that you might customize to use as pillar faith lessons for your team. Get together with your team leaders or captains before the season and ask for their input on team service projects, devotional thoughts and themes, and ways your team can truly honor and glorify God. The fall is a great time to be renewed in the Lord and think fresh about the spiritual goals you are hoping to meet for yourself and your team.

Just as the fall sports season represents a new beginning on the sports calendar, you, too, should remember that Jesus gave you a fresh start and new life when He died on the cross and washed away all of your sins. Embrace this grace. Embrace the fresh and spiritual renewal that comes only from Christ and get excited as you ponder ways to share and reaffirm this Good News with your team.

Best wishes to you and your athletes for a fabulous and fresh start to the season.

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Jim Pingel is the author of One Team, One Spirit, which will be available for purchase on August 30, 2017. You can visit cph.org/oneteamonespirit to learn more and to get free downloads!

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About the Author
Jim Pingel

Jim Pingel

Jim Pingel has served as a basketball and volleyball coach and an administrator and teacher at two different Lutheran high schools. He currently serves as the Director of Graduate Education at Concordia University Wisconsin. In 2000, he was the Minnesota State Basketball Coach of the Year Section IV Class A, and he was chosen as the South Wisconsin District Administrator of the Year in 2012. He is a passionate advocate for the integration and assimilation of biblical faith lessons throughout the curriculum and co-curriculars.

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