NEW April 2014 DigiMag Now Available

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This issue includes exclusive feature stories on Anthony Tolliver, Cody Zeller and Luke Ridnour of the Charlotte Bobcats. It also includes an in-depth feature on one of the best players in Japan’s professional baseball league, Alex Ramirez. Managing editor Brett Honeycutt writes about what Steve Masiello’s situation at Manhattan College can  teach us about humility, mercy and second chances. Enjoy. Continue reading

Multiply

If there is one word that describes the 2013-14 Charlotte Bobcats season, it’s this: multiply. Two seasons ago, they won seven games (during a lockout-shortened 66-game schedule). Last season, they won 21 games (of 82). This season, they finished with 43 victories (in 82 games), six times their amount of wins in 2012 and double the wins from a season ago. They’ve gone from the punch line of jokes on sports talk shows across the country to becoming a serious threat around the league, as they went on a 20-9 tear after All-Star Break and defeated some of the NBA’s best teams, in part because of a stifling defense that allowed the fourth fewest points in the league. One year before Charlotte reclaims its “Hornets” name, the Bobcats have already created a buzz in the Queen City, advancing to the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2010. No matter Read More

Closeup — Jacob Mulenga

Soccer hasn’t always been at the top of Zambian national soccer team member Jacob Mulenga’s favorite sports list. When he was young, he was addicted to motocross. His weekdays were spent going to school, but his weekends were filled with motocross training and racing. Soccer didn’t become a part of his life until high school. Even then, though, he said he “mainly just watched.” Motocross was fulfilling his competitive desires. Soccer was for fun. “I did not play for any youth teams or academies—just playing for fun at school,” he recalls. “I learned a lot basically from watching. I learned a lot from watching on TV.” But after high school, he decided to get serious about soccer. “After High School I thought, ‘OK, now before you decide what you want to do with your life, play football for a bit and see what happens.’…(former Zambian player and coach) Kalusha (Bwalya) Read More

Closeup — Cyrille Domoraud

For Cyrille Domoraud, the 2006 World Cup represented both the greatest triumph and most difficult challenge of his career. In late 2005, Domoraud, then a 34-year-old fullback from Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), captained the Elephants’ national soccer team to its first-ever World Cup berth, a historic event that prompted a temporary ceasefire in the nation’s six-year civil war. But Domoraud rode the bench the first two games—close losses to Argentina and the Netherlands—before getting a red card in the Elephants’ final game, a win over Serbia and Montenegro. “It was a blow to feel like my efforts hadn’t been rewarded,” he says. “But that’s part of the job.” Earlier in his career, Domoraud might have called the whole episode bad juju. As a native Ivorian, Domoraud grew up in a culture steeped in witchcraft. As a young player he used to wear a good luck ring—one of many talismans he Read More

Closeup — Fabio

Fans call Fabio “the blue wall” and consider him a hero. But for Brazilian goalkeeper Fábio Deivson Lopes Maciel, who has won numerous titles and been on Brazil’s national team at every level, the road to the titles is what’s most important. In 2007, his career was interrupted when he ruptured the ligaments in his left knee during a key game for his club, Cruzeiro, which was playing against its rival. Some thought he would never return. “It was a difficult time but important for me to revise my way of living and it was essential so God could work in my life in a way that I had never allowed him,” he says. “God is the basis of my life.” Adding to his troubles was the fact that people doubted that he was even injured because his right knee hit the goal post, but it was his left knee Read More

Closeup — Lee Young-Pyo

When it was all over—the Fred Astaire footwork, the subtle wizardry, the impressive globetrotting—there was only adoration. As Young-Pyo Lee walked off the pitch for the final time as a professional soccer player in the Vancouver Whitecaps’ 2013 season finale, the crowd at BC Place stood en masse and showered the Major League Soccer defender with cheers for two stellar seasons as a hometown Whitecap and 14 years of sublime professional soccer. The sellout crowd—21,000 strong—raucously chanted “Y.P. Lee!” Some fans held up a massive South Korean flag with an image of Lee in the center, covering the traditional yin-yang symbol. His teammates encircled him and tossed him up into the air over and over, like Little Leaguers at the denouement of a feel-good movie. “God is the most important thing to me, not football,” Lee says. “Football is only one of many ways I can glorify and serve my Read More

Closeup — Eddie Johnson

In 2001, at age 16, U.S. professional soccer player Eddie Johnson became one of the youngest players to sign with a Major League Soccer team. Now, at age 30, the accomplished striker for D.C. United has garnered a list of accolades including MLS Comeback Player of the Year (2007, 2012), 15 USA International Goals, 11 World Cup Qualifying Goals, FIFA World Cup with USA (2006, 2014), and CONCACAF Gold Cup Winner (2007). His most important victory in life, though, happened at age 18 when he accepted Christ. “As a child, my grandma made us go to church every Sunday, but I never looked forward to it,” admits the Florida native. “But over time, I began to realize I was missing something. At just the right time, God sent a friend into my life to guide me. He encouraged me to begin my day by reading the Bible and showed me how Read More

Closeup — Isaac Díaz

From the time Isaac Diaz was a baby and had a soccer ball in his cradle, to playing as a professional athlete in packed stadiums, soccer has always been a part of his life. And he succeeded despite being from such a small town of about 12,500 people. “Our town, Fresia, is very small but did have a soccer academy for youth. In addition to playing locally, my father took me all over the country to gain experience in tournaments and regionals. I was fortunate to progress to the pro level, and to play in packed stadiums is a great thrill for me. “ Tragedy struck, though, and reality hit Diaz. The faith that meant so much to his parents and that they took so seriously wasn’t as important to Diaz. But after he had time to contemplate it, and after God revealed Himself to Diaz, he embraced it and Read More

Closeup — Ricardo Salampessy

King David has always been an incredible example in the Bible of giving thanks to God in good times and in bad. And when you meet Indonesian soccer star Ricardo Salampessy, you quickly understand why David is his inspiration. The 30-year-old defender for Persipura has celebrated amazing victories, and also some difficult moments. And through it all, he has had a heart of gratitude to the Lord. “I thank God that I grew up in a Christian family where I was taught about Jesus,” he shares. “I learned to depend on Him completely when I thought my career was over due to a knee injury. Through prayer, I realized that football could interfere in my relationship with God and became aware of my need for daily time with Him. I recovered from surgery and returned to play sooner than expected – and with a stronger relationship with my Savior.” Salampessy Read More

Closeup — José Luis Vidigal

The second of 12 children, including four who played soccer, José Luis Vidigal understands what it means to fight and jostle for attention. During an 18-year professional career, Vidigal spent the majority of his career in Italy and Portugal before retiring in 2009. In between he represented Portugal in 28 games, including seven on the U-21 team, six during the 1996 Olympics where Portugal finished fourth, and 15 from 2000-02. That last stint included four games in UEFA Euro 2000, including the semifinal loss to France. But the most memorable and most exciting game was a 3-2 comeback victory against England. Down 2-0, Portugal scored three goals and went on to win their Group going 3-0 in the process. In the knockout round, Portugal won its first game, 2-0, against Turkey before losing 2-1 to France in the semifinals. “I’ll never forget this game (against England) because we were in Read More

Uncommon Challenge