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More Than Just Kicking a Ball

Kids and soccer are a perfect combination, but incorporating the Gospel into the sport takes it to the next level. On Saturday, August 20, the CCC men’s soccer team participated in a demonstration at the KidZone Soccer League, an outreach program through Skycrest Baptist Church.

“We had 85-90 kids from the Skycrest KidZone Soccer League,” said James Whitaker, men’s soccer coach and athletic director for CCC. “One of our seniors, Mac Hildebrand, used the J316 soccer ball to share the Gospel with all the kids and parents, many of whom are kids from the community.” The J316 ball is a unique evangelistic tool designed to be used by Christian soccer players and works similar to The Wordless Book.

“The clinic at Skycrest was an opportunity for our team to be involved in ministry, to give back to the community, and to use soccer as a tool to share the Gospel,” said Coach Whitaker. “It was exciting to see our players warm up to these kids and really invest their time in the lives of these kids through soccer. This was a great way to start the season and focus our team on what is most important.”

Mac Hildebrand, senior midfielder from Atlanta, GA, said, “I enjoy doing these clinics because it allows our team to be examples to kids and have fun with them while doing what we love. The possibility that the kids may begin to enjoy the game of soccer more because of our interaction with them is a joy for us. The greatest joy of all is that the common interest provides an even greater opportunity to share the gospel. At these clinics our team shares a gospel message, emphasizing the familiar concept of God as Father to relate how great His love is for us in a way that young kids can begin to understand. The possibility that the Holy Spirit could use our interaction to open blind eyes to salvation is an awesome motivator for our team to do these clinics.”

Jennifer Gannaio, director of children’s ministries at Skycrest, enjoys having the CCC team involved with their outreach programs. “The Clearwater men’s soccer team was an awesome part of the kickoff for our KidZone Soccer League for kids 4th-6th grade. This is a favorite event for our soccer players, [their] families, and our volunteer coaches because of the energy and fun these young men bring to the field. Not only did the team members instruct and teach various drills and skills, they made it so much fun that the kids didn’t realize they were even learning!”

Combining the basics of soccer with a bit of fun has always been a rewarding way to teach kids—on the field and in the classroom. “The most impressive thing to me was their organization and structure, but yet these young men had the ability to connect with the children in a fun way,” said Jennifer. “This clinic day helps our league by offering a basic intensive that helps many of our youngsters who are beginner players become comfortable with some skills in a fun environment.”

Not forgetting that we are called to be ambassadors of the Gospel, the team took their responsibility very seriously. “[For the children,] hearing the message of salvation by the same athletes [that taught them soccer] is an awesome testimony that sports and Christianity do indeed go together! I was so impressed, once again, with this team, their leadership, and the event itself—I can’t say enough about CCC’s men’s soccer team!” Ms. Gannaio was more than satisfied with the efforts of our Cougar players.

The men’s soccer team plans to take part in at least one more KidZone soccer clinic this school year.