Athlete Profiles:

Mike Rupp

All Mike Rupp wanted was to go home.

Rupp was called up in mid-April by the NHL's New Jersey Devils from their American Hockey League affiliate in Albany, New York. He was one of five "Black Aces" - warm bodies being kept around by the Devils as insurance during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

"I thought to myself, 'What am I doing this for?'" Rupp recalls now. "I'm not even playing. I'm not with the team...Just let me go home and enjoy the summer."

New Jersey had a different plan, however. And so, Rupp thinks, did God.

After an injury to New Jersey forward Joe Nieuwendyk, the Devils activated Rupp for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and then again for Game 7.

Rupp came ready to play in the decisive game, as he scored the winning goal, and then added two assists in New Jersey's 3-0 victory.

Rupp's life has not been the same since. "When I look at everything that happened to me over a 3-month period, I realize it wasn't me that did any of it," Rupp said. "It was obviously the work of God. He showed me His power, and He showed me what can be accomplished if you work hard and stay faithful to Him."


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Tim Tebow

TEBOW / MCCOY
As the current quarterbacks for the last two national championship teams, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow have taken center stage in two of the most intensely scrutinized college football programs in America. Even as sophomores, this concept is not lost on McCoy and Tebow. They know they are being watched. They also know that with the immediate access they have to so many people, the opportunities to be a model and a spokesperson for Jesus Christ are preeminent. "In some places it's not the cool thing to do or the popular thing to be and God is not No. 1," says McCoy.

Tebow and McCoy were both hatched from close-knit, deeply Christian upbringings that saw them come to faith at an early age. Tim Tebow's fater, Bob Tebow, heads the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association, which claims to be the conduit of close to 9 million people coming to faith in Christ in the last 8 years.

An NFL career is a goal for both of these young quarterbacks, but they are realistic enough to know there are no guarantees. McCoy looks forward to what God has in store. "God willing, I'd like to be in the NFL, but the important thing to do is His will."

Shaun Alexander

ALEXANDER
Whether Shaun Alexander spends his Sunday morning wearing a football jersey on a field or a suit in a pew, he's the same guy. "Shaun is a Christian 24/7," says close friend and teammate Mack Strong. "He's a great example. It's a testimony to him, to God."

Alexander has made a lasting name for himself in the NFL. The accomplishments and praises he's received are only dreams for many. He's not surprised by his success; he's always set lofty goals and worked hard. Now he's a household name, but he says, "This is no time to say, 'Look at me.'" That's because, for Alexander, it's not just about football. "I play football to make a difference in people's lives."

The difference he wants to make is a difference for Christ. He has a heart for providing hope, especially for youth, and giving to others as unto the Lord. That's the purpose of his foundation and the community center he started with his brother. "You can't outgive God," he says.

The best day in his life? Being valedictorian of his graduating class? Setting NFL records? Becoming 2005 MVP? No. "It was the first time I led someone to Christ," says Alexander. What else would we expect?

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