Airing It Out — Merciful messengers

Manhattan College vs University of Louisville, 2014 NCAA Midwest Regional Playoffs Round 2Manhattan College men’s basketball coach Steve Masiello had just led the program to the most wins in 10 years, and the Jaspers ended the season by nearly beating defending national champion Louisville in a much talked-about first round NCAA tournament game.

That success earned Masiello praise on the national level and also an interview and job offer from the University of South Florida to take over that program.

He took the job and everything seemed perfect.

He traded in the mid-major Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for the Big East and the cold winters for sunny Florida.

Then the roller-coaster ride that had been so much fun began taking the twists and turns that turn strong men’s stomachs inside out.

The difference was that Masiello, or anyone for that matter, couldn’t see the ups and downs that were coming—the type of ups and downs that would humble and embarrass anyone.

After accepting the job at South Florida, the university did a basic background check that showed Masiello had never earned a degree at the University of Kentucky. He had put his graduation date as 2000 on his resume ever since he left the school that year, but he never graduated.

He had enough credits to walk with his class during graduation ceremonies, however, he still lacked a few classes to graduate. His intent was to return that summer and finish his degree, but even though he enrolled he never finished the classes.

South Florida rescinded the offer and Masiello was not only out of a job—but his image and reputation were tarnished. The likelihood of him receiving a head coaching opportunity anytime soon, much less a job offer on any college coaching staff, seemed small.

Then, Manhattan did what no one could have predicted. They showed grace and mercy, the two words that resonate with Christians all over the world because they provide life, hope and second chances while doing away with the condemnation often associated with our sins.

It’s not a license to continue doing what we did, but it’s the hope that, after seeing our wrong, we can live as if there was never a wrong. Even though we remember it, God shows us so much mercy and grace that when we give or confess our wrongs to Him, He does away with them (Micah 7:19: “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”; Psalm 103:12: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us) and cleanses us (I John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”).

Manhattan’s statement by school president Brennan O’Donnell to the media and public dripped with grace.

“After an extensive review of the situation and extenuating circumstances, we determined that Mr. Masiello executed poor judgment but did not intentionally misrepresent himself in applying to the college. After participating in graduation ceremonies at the University of Kentucky, he enrolled in summer courses with the intention of completing his degree, but never followed through to make sure that the degree was awarded,” O’Donnell wrote.

“We appreciate the counsel of all involved in assessing this complex situation. Our policy was always that the coach must have at least a four-year undergraduate degree. We are confident that Mr. Masiello will be able to complete his degree this summer and return soon thereafter to resume his duties.”

Masiello, realizing the magnitude of such a  gesture, expressed his appreciation with a humble statement—the type of humility that you and I show to God when we confess our sins to Him and realize that He still forgives (when we think He wouldn’t) and He still loves us (like He said He always will).

“I am extremely grateful and humbled by the opportunity to continue as the head men’s basketball coach at Manhattan College,” said Masiello in the statement. “I made a mistake that could have cost me my job at an institution I love. Details matter.

“Manhattan College has shown me a great deal of compassion and trust during this process, and I will do everything in my power to uphold that trust. I understand that I am very fortunate to have the chance to remain here at Manhattan.”

Thinking about all of that is why Matthew 5:7 still resonates with me, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Remember that the next time you need mercy and also when you have the opportunity to extend mercy.

By Brett Honeycutt

This column was published in Sports Spectrum’s April 2014 DigiMag. Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor of Sports Spectrum magazine. His column addresses topics from a biblical perspective. Follow him on Twitter-@Brett_Honeycutt

NEW April 2014 DigiMag Now Available

April 2014 DigiMag CoverOur April 2014 DigiMag is now available for viewing. Log in here to view. To receive 12 issues of Sports Spectrum magazine a year, subscribe HERE.

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.

Special 2014 World Cup issue now available

Spring 2014_coverThis issue is Sports Spectrum’s largest undertaking and likely our most important edition since the magazine began in 1985. Not because of the amount of stories we are giving you, our readers, about athletes playing the world’s most watched, and arguably the most popular sport, but because of the potential impact this issue can have on others around the world.

That potential impact is made possible because the 2014 World Cup issue is being produced in 14 languages and will be used by ministries all over the world during the World Cup — through the internet, via mobile devices and also on the ground as the World Cup is being played.

Please pray as we launch the Sports Spectrum Go Mag, with the mission of the mag based on Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Please also pray that God would use this issue, and others that follow, to reveal Himself to others and to lead people to accept Christ, so that lives would be changed for eternity.

Sincerely,
Sports Spectrum Global Team

Riches That Last

Los Angeles Angels Photo Day“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9 

What does it mean to be rich? When Stan Musial signed his 17th contract in 1958, he became the first National Leaguer to make $100,000. He was rich. In 1975, Catfish Hunter signed as a free agent for five years with the Yankees, making more than $3 million. He was richer. In 2012, Albert Pujols signed a 10-year deal with the L.A. Angels for more than $250 million. He is very rich.

There is a permanent way to become “rich.” When a person acknowledges he is a sinner and trusts in Jesus as his Sin-Bearer, he becomes rich in at least three ways. He becomes rich in grace. Ephesians 1:7 says he has redemption and forgiveness “according to the riches of His grace.” How do you put a price tag on that?  Second, He becomes rich in friends. Psalms 119:63 says, “I am a companion of all who fear You…” Christians have a blood-bought bond with other Christians. They are friends forever.Third, he becomes rich in blessings. Proverbs 10:22 says, “the blessings of the LORD makes one rich…”

Do you want to be rich? If you choose Jesus as your Savior, He may (or may not) bless you with possessions, goods and property. He may (or may not) bless you with wealth, dollars and cents.

But he will definitely bless you with eternal life and a new identity as He welcomes you into His purposes, which is priceless.

By Stanley Tucker

Stanley Tucker writes devotionals for Sports Spectrum magazine. This devotional is taken from our most recent Training Table. Log in here to access our most recent Training Table. Subscribe here to receive 12 issues a year and a daily sports-related devotional.

Randy Johnson, Big Man in Seattle

Mister Big

Randy Johnson.

Just the mention of his name elicits a collection of defeated, almost fearful responses from major league hitters.

Some shake their head and laugh nervously. Others ponder their fate for a moment…then shrug their shoulders in resignation. Still others take a deep breath and slowly exhale as if they’ve narrowly escaped death.

Remember the 1993 All-Star Game? The always colorful, left-handed hitting John Kruk stepped in to face Johnson. The 6-foot-10 inch southpaw promptly sailed a fastball over the first baseman’s head. That’s all Kruk needed. He was finished.

He was transformed into a wide-eyed little leaguer batting for the first time as he bailed out against Johnson’s next two offerings. One feeble swing later — Kruk K’d.

“It’s tough to hit when you’re dead,” said the now-retired Kruk in a post game interview after his brush with fate. “If he was going to hit me, he was going to have to hit a moving target. It would be embarrassing to die on national TV.”

Imagine stepping into the box just 60 feet, 6 inches from the game’s hardest-throwing, most intimidating hurler. Facing the long, lanky, lean, and sometimes loose lefty isn’t exactly a walk in a roadside park — it’s more like a night-time stroll through Central Park.

“He’s a very intimidating person,” says Brewers slugger Dave Nilsson after a long sigh. “When you step in the box against him, you know you have to be at your best. Everything really has to come together for you to be successful against him.”

That rarely happens. Not just in Nilsson’s case, but for the entire league.

No matter what statistical formula is used to calculate effectiveness, Johnson is simply the best pitcher in the American League:

Wins: Over the last three seasons nobody in the American League has won more. Johnson has 50 wins.

Earned Run Average: Randy’s three-year ERA is 2.97, tops in the American League.

Strikeouts: Nobody in the American League even comes close. He’s racked up an unbelievable 806 K’s in three years! Dominant? California starter Chuck Finley is second with 530 strikeouts in the same time frame.

In this decade, no pitcher in either league has sent more men dragging their lumber back to the dugout as often as Johnson. He has rung up 1,469 batters — leaving a healthy distance between Johnson and second place strikeout artist David Cone with 1,249 K’s.

Johnson is the first pitcher in history to post five consecutive seasons averaging 10-plus K’s per 9 innings.

But statistics don’t tell the complete story of his dominance. The respect Johnson has from his competitors fills in the details. They voted him as the pitcher with the “best fastball” and “best slider” in the game today, according to a Baseball America poll.

“He’s got a great slider, and his fast ball just seems to explode,” says Paul Sorrento, Johnson’s first-year teammate and former Cleveland Indian. “There are some other hard throwers in the league, but none of them compare to Randy. It’s not even close!”

Why is the 32-year-old southpaw so dominant?

Yes, he has awe-inspiring stuff. And yes, he has a warrior-like competitive spirit. But combine those things with the third and most important aspect of his life, and you’ve found the secret to his success — Randy Johnson is a follower of Jesus Christ.

“About three years ago, I had a traumatic experience in my life — my dad passed away,” explains Randy with a photograph of his father atop his locker. “I was on the brink of becoming a Christian anyway, but when my dad passed away I finally made the vow to the Lord that He could have my life, and I would glorify Him on and off the field.

“In the last three years, I have had more heart and more desire, and I feel that’s a direct reflection of my Christian beliefs and lifestyle.”

Glance at the last three years of his career, and who could argue? Johnson’s game has risen to another level. From good to great. From tough to nearly unhittable. From simply a thrower with good stuff to a pitcher with total command of his repertoire.

“He was tough a couple of years ago when he really didn’t have command of his pitches,” explains Sorrento. “Now he’s really got control of the strike zone. It’s scary.”

The improvement in Johnson’s game is no mistake. When Randy made a dramatic change in his life, his game changed too – for the better.

When Randy’s dad died, the big lefty evaluated his life. He knew what was missing and what was needed.

“Sometimes people need to go through a traumatic experience to turn to God,” says Johnson. “I believed in Him, but I didn’t dedicate my life to Him until I had a tragic experience in my life.”

“When you make that commitment to the Lord, you’re gonna have lots of confrontations, and there’ll be lots of tugging. I feel that myself. But there’s only one way to be on this earth, and that’s to be a Christian!”

Johnson, always candid and never shy, speaks about his faith as openly as he talks about his pitching. Ask him question, and get out of the way-Randy’s got plenty to say!

Ask him about the notion that Christian athletes are soft. He replies with passion, “The Christian athlete is misconstrued as being like an ostrich. When things get tough they bury their head in the sand.

“I would confront any fan or professional athlete to say that to me, because that hasn’t been me in the last three years.

“There have been several times in the last three years where I could have been soft and been that ostrich burying my head in the sand because the going got tough. I got through those situations because I believed that the Lord would get me through them, and because I dedicated myself to doing the things I needed to do to be the best. Thats’s one way I can glorify the Lord.”

Johnson’s performance in 1995 was certainly no ostrich act. No other pitcher came close to his accomplishments. Big No. 51 led the league in earned run average (2.48), winning percentage (.900), strikeouts (294), batting average against (.201), and strikeouts per 9 innings pitched (12.35 – A new Major League record).

Randy finished the season with an unbelieveable 18-2 record, just one win short of capturing the pitching Triple Crown (wins, ERA, and K’s). Had he captured that, Johnson would have been he American League’s first Triple Crown winner in 50 years.

The fact that he got only 26 of 28 first place votes for the American League Cy Young Award is a travesty! Not voting for Johnson after the season he had in 1995 would be like putting artificial turf at Wrigley Field. It’s just wrong.

But Johnson doesn’t revel in his amazing success. He knows hitters respect him. He knows he’s good. But he also recognizes that it isn’t all his doing.

“There are a lot of professional athletes who think they are doing it all on their own,” says Randy. “I was one of those athletes at one time. I felt that when I struck out a bunch of guys, that it was solely me doing it-but not anymore.

“The Lord’s given me the ability to go out and do the things that I do. It’s being done by the Lord.”

Johnson has been gifted with a Kingdome full of talent. He’s tall, he throws amazingly hard, he’s smart, and his competitive spirit is second to none.

“He does not like to lose,” says Mariners catcher Dan Wilson. “He is a very competitive person-a real warrior-type!”

Although he doesn’t go to battle with a javelin in his hand, as Wilson’s comment suggests, some hitters would rather stare down a flaming spear than a Johnson fastball.

“As a hitter, you’re hoping to get a couple walks and maybe chink a flare in somewhere and beat him 1-0,” says Sorrento. “It feels good to be on the other side of it now.”

Others aren’t so fortunate. They have to face the slants of Johnson every fifth day, which usually means success for the Mariners. In 1995, the M’s went an amazing 27-3 in games Johnson started. When an irritated nerve in his lower back sidelined the 1995 Cy Young winner for much of the current season, Johnson was already 5-0 and leading the league in strikeouts-again! Before the injury Randy had won 25 of his last 27 decisions, and he was 34-5 in his last 52 starts.

Although he has missed several “fifth days” this season, the California native takes great pleasure in taking the hill and representing the Lord.

“The greatest feeling I get playing baseball right now is knowing that I can go out every fifth day and be a warrior for the Lord,” says Randy. “I can go out behind the mound and crouch down and say my prayer and then be a very aggressive, warrior-like pitcher, glorifying Him in that sense.

“Knowing that I can go among 50,000 fans and pray, and people take notice of that-it’s very gratifying to me.”

Randy’s relationship with God isn’t something he uses as a showpiece or as a good-luck charm. His faith in Jesus Christ is authentic. And more than being just a warrior-like pitcher, Randy Johnson is a prayer warrior.

He prays before, during and after games. He enjoys close communication with God through prayer.

“I do a lot of praying. I do a lot of talking to the Lord. It’s something I really enjoy,” says Johnson. “When people think I’m talking to myself-I’m doing a lot of praying. So I’m in constant contact with Him.”

The 32-year old pitcher is very honest about his relationship with Jesus Christ. He knew about Jesus for years. But he didn’t live for Him. Today, Randy knows the Lord in a very personal way. He knows the Lord in a way that many people don’t, but in a way that he would like them to.

“I’m sure a lot of people believe in the Lord, but they’re not committed to Him-they haven’t given their life to Him.”

“I think everybody realizes there is a Lord Jesus Christ. Whether they’re committed to Him or not, it’s gonna be important to them before they die to make that decision. We’re talking eternal life-we’re talking forever.”

Sound like a guy who is timid about the Gospel? Not a chance! Randy makes no more apologies for talking about his faith in Christ and his source of blessing than he does for tucking a fastball under somebody’s chin. Even when normal media types don’t want to hear it, Randy gives the credit for his success to the Lord Jesus Christ.

“I realize a lot of media people shut that out They want to know why you have so much success, but they don’t want to hear the real reason-because the Lord has given you the abilities.”

And the Lord has definitely given Randy Johnson extraordinary abilities. Abilities he has worked hard to develop, hone, and master.

Unlike the thrower who broke into the majors with the Montreal Expos in 1988, Johnson has mastered the slider, the fastball, and the art of intimidation. He is a compete pitcher-in every sense of the word.

His peers’ responses don’t lie.

“You just hope to see the ball out of his hand,” says Oakland A’s infielder Scott Brosius after he smiles, chuckles anxiously, and responds to an inquiry about the Mariners’ ace. “He is the ultimate power pitcher!”

Just mention the name and the players will tell you. Randy Johnson is the big league’s Mister Big.

By Rob Bentz

This story was published in the August 1996 issue of Sports Spectrum magazine. Click here to view the entire issue. 

Assured of Ultimate Victory

618_348_michael-wacha-cardinals-starting-pitcher-players-to-watch-at-spring-training“But whoever listens to me will dwell safely and will be secure, without fear of evil.” Proverbs 1:33  

Game 2 of the 2013 National League Championship Series was a classic for baseball purists. The St. Louis Cardinals beat the L.A. Dodgers 1-0 behind 22-year-old rookie pitcher Michael Wacha.

Each batter Wacha faced represented the tying or go ahead run. The tension was thick in every inning.

In the sixth inning, trailing 1-0, the Dodgers had runners on second and third with no outs and later had the bases loaded with one out. Wacha was able to get out of the jam, striking out the next two batters. In the post-game interview, he was asked how he dealt with the pressure in those situations. He simply said, “I listened to Yadi.”

Catcher Yadier Molina is the Cardinals’ team leader. He is their best hitter and best fielder. He has nurtured several rookie pitchers this season through tough spots.

James 1:19 says “let every man be swift (ready) to hear…” As Christians, our team leader is Jesus. He endured more pain and suffering than any human in history during His arrest, trial and crucifixion. After rising from the dead, He sent His Spirit and His Word to be there for us through all the tough spots in our life.

Are you ready to listen to Him? He’s ready to help out at a moment’s notice.

He is our team leader. Put your trust in Him. Daily victories are likely; ultimate victory is assured. 

By Stanley Tucker

Stanley Tucker writes devotionals for Sports Spectrum magazine. This devotional is taken from our most recent Training Table. Log in here to access our most recent Training Table. Subscribe here to receive 12 issues a year and a daily sports-related devotional.

Multiply

Bobcats Spreads

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 what transpires in the 2014 postseason, it’d be foolish not to recognize the breakthrough season the Bobcats have had merely two years after finishing with the worst winning percentage in NBA history.

But their number of victories isn’t the only thing that has multiplied this season. The stories of three newly acquired Bobcats players—Anthony Tolliver, Cody Zeller, and Luke Ridnour—can teach us about multiplication in a different realm.

Anthony Tolliver

Anthony Tolliver was on the Bobcats plane one evening when a teammate asked him about the book he was reading. Tolliver told him that it was a book called Multiply by pastor and renowned speaker Francis Chan. His teammate expressed interest, and the two of them started meeting together on road trips to talk about the concepts in the book.

Other players noticed the two of them meeting and asked if they, too, could join. Before Tolliver knew it, his little conversation on the plane had turned into a seven-person Bible study that met in hotel rooms on road trips. The title of the book Tolliver was reading couldn’t have been more ironic.

“God literally used the title and meaning of the book,” Tolliver laughs. “The book is about discipleship and teaching other people about the Lord—so it couldn’t get any more direct. I was like, ‘Wow, this isn’t me.’ It’s funny because I always looked at myself as someone who doesn’t know a lot, but there are always people who don’t know as much as you do who you can help.”’

Tolliver, who has bounced around between six NBA teams in six seasons and has experienced inconsistent playing time this year with the Bobcats, has been reminded this season that, no matter what his circumstances might be on the basketball court, God still may have him in a specific place at a specific time for a purpose. All he has to do is look around any given Bible study he is leading to realize that.

“It’s one of those things that is kind of surreal—to think that these guys are listening to what God might say through me,” Tolliver says. “It’s crazy. It’s not something I’ve done before. It’s out of my comfort zone.

“Every time I think about that, I’m like, ‘Yeah, God is always going to put you where you are supposed to be. I’m always going to be in the right spot. If I play a lot or don’t play at all, it will still lead me to my next journey and next place.”

Amidst the challenges facing Tolliver on the hardwood, he positioned himself before the Lord, and God used him in a way he never imagined and multiplied it.

Cody Zeller

For rookie Cody Zeller, this season has been an exciting season, but also a transitional one, as he turned professional after his sophomore year at Indiana University and was drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats fourth overall in the 2013 NBA Draft.

In an instant, his life and surroundings changed.

“College is a lot of fun, but now you’re playing basketball for a living,” Zeller says. “I had to pick up my concentration and focus playing against the best players in the world every day, whether that’s back-to-back games or four games in five nights. I think that’s been an adjustment for me. In this league, it’s more of a job, and they can always find someone else to do it. I feel like I’ve grown up a lot this year.”

Zeller is naturally a go-with-the-flow type of person, anyway, but his transition into the NBA was also made easier by the ingredients in Charlotte.

“I think it’s uncommon to have as many believers as we have on the team,” Zeller says. “That’s definitely made it a lot easier. On other teams, I might have to look elsewhere for close friends or guidance on different things. We have a great group of guys, and that has made the transition a lot easier on me.

“The other thing about the Bible studies we have is that it’s fun because a lot of us come from different backgrounds. Different ages. Different homes—one might have grown up in the city, another might have grown up in the country. Some might have come from single-parent households. Others might have had two parents. Luke (Ridnour) is in his mid-30’s. I’m 21. Al has a little kid. Our discussions are really good because guys are in different points in their lives, have been brought up different ways, and are in different phases of their walks with the Lord.”

NBA Hall of Famer and Charlotte native Bobby Jones has also had an impact on Zeller in his transition. Whether it’s offering guidance with the NBA lifestyle or simply playing Ping-Pong at his house, Jones has become a spiritual and professional mentor for Zeller, inviting him to his house at least once a week.

“He is so low-key that you would never think that he was an NBA Hall of Famer,” Zeller says. “He lives out in the middle of nowhere on a dead-end street, and it’s very humbling talking to him because he is so down to earth and never makes a big deal out of anything. He is a great Christian man, and he’s had a big impact on me.”

Jones’ influence and humility, perhaps, has been a reminder of the importance of slowing down, especially in the helter-skelter lifestyle of an NBA basketball player, where wealth, power, and fame are at one’s fingertips.

“I have more time to study and more time to pray,” Zeller says. “It’s kind of cool because a lot of times on plane trips, I can’t sleep after just getting done playing, and I find it really peaceful for me. It’s dark on the plane and a lot of guys are doing their own thing. I read the Bible app on my phone, and I throw on some music. Since you can’t get service in the air, you don’t receive any texts, or get on Facebook or anything else like that. It puts me in the right frame of mind, whether I played well that night or played bad that night. It reminds me what is most important in life—my relationship with the Lord. That is my routine now.”

Amidst the transition—a new city with a new lifestyle and new responsibilities—Zeller positioned himself before the Lord, and God brought people and scenarios around him in ways that he never imagined—multiplication. Through teammates. Through an ex-NBA player. And through hanging out with God in the dark cabin of an airplane.

Luke Ridnour

One player’s story that is oddly similar to the Bobcats recent history is that of Luke Ridnour.

Before his arrival in Charlotte, Ridnour had been to the playoffs only twice in 10 seasons: once in 2005 with the Seattle Supersonics where he spent his first five seasons, and again in 2010 with the Milwaukee Bucks where he spent the next two seasons.

Ridnour was then traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves where he, like the Bobcats, experienced the frustrations of season after season when the losses significantly outnumbered the wins. The Timberwolves finished 17-65 in 2011, 26-40 in 2012, and 31-51 in 2013. In the offseason, Ridnour believed it was a positive sign that his old team, the Milwaukee Bucks, decided to trade for him with the intentions that he could help them make a playoff run in 2014.

When their season began with an abysmal 3-15 start, however, and a 9-43 record before the All-Star break, Ridnour saw his minutes slip as the Bucks began to invest more in their younger players. The experience was a continual mental battle.

“It was a tough situation of me being a veteran, wanting to get to the playoffs and win and play, and none of that was happening,” Ridnour says. “It made me really focus on God and not the circumstances. It really affects who you are, your character and what you are doing. My wife really encouraged me that I’m just not here to play basketball, but I’m here to be a light and represent Him.”

Of course, by the time the All-Star break rolled around, it was the Charlotte Bobcats who were trading for him.

“When I was in Milwaukee, I felt like it was a test for me to stay positive and stay encouraged and still be a light in a tough situation basketball wise,” Ridnour continues. “I was able to do that, and I look back on it and I think God kind of rewarded me or honored me and brought me to a place with a playoff team. I think God is always watching to see if you give Him the little situations and if you honor Him still when it’s not going well. That’s what I kind of feel like this year has been for me. It’s been exciting to be able to go from that…It’s my 11th year, so to be able to play in the playoffs is fun.”

Amidst the discontent and feelings that he was running out of time, Ridnour positioned himself before the Lord, and God brought him to a place he never imagined, multiplying his wins, minutes, and influence.

Positioning and Multiplying

So much of this life comes down to positioning, doesn’t it? Positioning our hearts. Positioning our minds. Positioning ourselves before the Lord so He can use us, so He can take a seed on good soil and multiply the crop (Matthew 13:8).

And after that, it’s just simple math.

By Stephen Copeland

Stephen Copeland is a staff writer and columnist at Sports Spectrum magazine.

A look back at Hoosiers star and UCLA head coach Steve Alford

Yawn…yawn. Seemingly just another day at the office for point guard Steve Alford. The smooth 6-foot-2 senior led Indiana University to the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball championship this season, averaging 22 points a game. But his fluid movements on the floor belie the effort and diligence away from the camera that went into his contributions toward the team’s national title.

Alford ended his career as the Hoosiers’ four-time Most Valuable Player. He finished as the number 2 all-time scorer in the Big 10 Conference–a mere deuce behind Michigan’s Mike McGee…

To read our story on Hoosiers star and UCLA head coach Steve Alford from our Volume 1, Number 3 issue, click here.

Uncommon Challenge