Category Archives: christian athletics

Quanesha Burk, Christian track star, started flipping burgers, now represents America at Olympics

Two words turned track star Quanesha Burks around after an injury dimmed her chances to make it to the Tokyo Olympics: BUT GOD.

“A few months ago, I was dealing with severe bone bruising in my femur and two strained tendons in my patella and popliteus,” Quanesha wrote on Instagram June 30th. I couldn’t physically bend my leg yet alone walk or run properly.

“BUT GOD,” she declared in faith.

Then the Olympic star explained how her attitude, prayer and positivity allowed her not only compete but make it on America’s Olympic team.

“I couldn’t control the injuries or what my future held. But I decided to embrace every day with prayer, positivity, and continuing to be a blessing to others,” Quanesha says. “I refused to let the setback determine my outcome and I knew God didn’t bring me this far to leave me.”

Born in Ozark, Alabama, Quanesha Burks had a small-town girl mentality. She even worked at McDonald’s after track practice to pay her grandmother’s car insurance. (But judging from the shape she’s in, perhaps she didn’t over-indulge on fries and shakes.)

“When I worked at McDonald’s, I thought it was the best job ever,” Burks told Sports Illustrated. “I was making $100 every two weeks. It’s terrible, but I came to work every day happy and I knew it was all part of my goal to go to college.”

Quanesha is a hard-working Christian girl who put her life into God’s hands.

At Hartselle High School, she placed third in the triple jump at the 2012 USATF Junior Olympics and won a 100-meter dash/long jump/triple jump triple at the 2013 state championships.

All the while, she drove grandma to work every morning at 4:30 a.m. and her sisters to school and after track practice, she logged hours flipping burgers and ringing up orders at McDonald’s from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Since she excelled in sports, she hoped she might get a scholarship to college. She would be the first in her family to attend higher education. She researched and found she needed to… Read the rest: Quanesha Burks Christian

Michael Chandler, Christian UFC fighter, on what it takes to win

Some dragons you can slay once and for all, others, come back.

That’s what Christian UFC lightweight contender Michael Chandler says. He should know.

Plagued by a small-town mentality for most of his life, Chandler — who is widely regarded in the arena of glove-less grapple — went 688 days without a win. He suffered three straight losses.

“That small guy from that small town inside my brain still tugs at me from time to time,” he says on the Ed Mylett podcast. “It was definitely the hardest time of my life. Some dragons, you slay and you slay them they’re dead. You cut them off at the head. You never see them again.

“But then some dragons you just get good at pinning them,” he adds. “I’m probably never ever going to be able to slay him, but I have gotten really, really good at duct-taping him to the basement of my mind, with a big old roll of duct tape and taping over his mouth.”

Today, Chandler fights, owns a mixed martial arts gym, and speaks on the motivational circuit. He’s a devout Christian who says God called him into the arena to use it as a platform to talk about Jesus.

“God pulled me into this sport and pushed me in the direction of mixed martial arts to be put on a platform not just to be good, but to be great, not just to be great, but to be impactful,” he says.

A God-fearing man feared by many men, Michael Chandler was born in High Ridge, Missouri, population 4,300. His father was a union carpenter.

In high school, he played football and wrestled, the latter at which he excelled, being selected to the All-St. Louis Team his senior year. He walked on to the University of Missouri wrestling squad, where he collected 100 wins and was four-time NCAA Division I qualifier.

Training in mixed martial arts, he excelled at Strikeforce in 2009 and then Bellator MMA where he won his first 12 bouts.

“I came out shot out of a cannon, won my first 12 fights, finished most of most of them in the first period or in the first round,” he remembers.

There was a buzz in the fight media. Was Michael the next big unbeatable? Read the rest: Michael Chandler, UFC’s Christian champion.

Allyson Felix, Christian Olympian and mother

Allyson Felix, America’s most decorated Olympic runner, just qualified for her fifth Olympics and celebrated that awesome feat by having a mommy-daughter moment on the track.

“Guys, we’re going to Tokyo,” she said to her 2-year-old daughter Camryn, who met with another qualifier, Quanera Hayes,’ and her son Demetrius in front of cheering crowds after both runners burned through a 400 meter dash.

As a Christian, Allyson Felix has pushed back against a growing, secular, anti-mothering sentiment in our nation, that can be said to be iconized by Joe Biden’s recent budget that called mothers “birthing persons.”

Nike attempted to cut Allyson’s sponsorship deal by 70% when she got pregnant. Why? Because pregnant women can’t compete in track? Because they’re less attractive (according to some sexists) and therefore less marketable?

Whatever Nike’s reasoning, there is an obvious pressure on women to eschew having children that seems very much a part of the current social/political milieu of our country. According to this thinking, overpopulation is a grave concern and abortion is a huge remedy.

To her shame last January, actress Michelle Williams accepted her Golden Globe award and credited killing her fetus with enabling her to attain her professional goals. “I decided to start a family in 2018 knowing that pregnancy can be ‘the kiss of death’ in my industry,” she wrote in the New York Times.

Nike walked back the threatened pay cut and granted maternity privileges to its athletes only after a public outcry and congressional inquiry aimed at them.

So it was fitting that Felix — the athlete and Christian mother — would bring her cute toddler to the qualifiers in Oregon and take her to the Tokyo games later this summer.

“My faith is definitely the most important aspect of my life,” she says on an Athletes in Action website. “I came to know Jesus Christ as my personal Savior at a very young age. Ever since then, I have continually been striving to grow in my relationship with God.” Read the rest: Allyson Felix motherhood spat with Nike

When Morolake Akinosun Christian track star ruptured her Achilles

The end of her running — the end of her very identity — came when Olympian Morolake Akinosun hit a wall at the end of a race in 2018 and ruptured her Achilles tendon.

“The Achilles is the strongest tendon in the human body, and you need it to do literally everything: walk, jump, crawl, climb stairs, stand up, sit down,” Morolake says on an I am Second video. “I had it surgically repaired but I was being told, ‘Hey, you might never be the same runner that you were ever again. This may be a career-ending injury for you.’”

What rescued Morolake was her spiritual community.

“For the first time I realized that I was surrounded by people who believed in me and not only did they believe in me, they believed that God had a plan for my life and that He was still going to be faithful through it all,” she says.

Morolake Akinosun was born in Lagos, Nigeria, to parents who were Christian pastors. The family immigrated to America when she was two years old, and she flourished at track and field at the University of Texas at Austin, where she won consistently.

“Every training cycle is about figuring out how can I break my body,” she says. “We push ourselves to the limit, breaking your body apart and coming back the next day and doing it over and over again.”

In prelims for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, her teammates dropped the baton in between the 2nd and 3rd leg of the relay race. Morolake, who stood waiting at the 4th spot, was stunned.

“In that moment I had that thought of like, ‘Wow, I’ve trained what feels like your whole life for a moment that now seemed to be gone and stripped from me within the blink of an eye,’” she remembers.

As it turns out, the American women’s team was allowed to re-run the qualifying race. In the final competition, they took gold.

But everything she trained for her entire life was stripped away when she crashed into the wall on that fateful day in 2018.

Angry thoughts ran through her mind toward God: I thought this is what I was supposed to be doing and if this is what I’m supposed to be doing then why did You take it away from me? she questioned. My identity was built in track and field. Read the rest: Morolake Akinosun Christian track star ruptured her Achilles

Rod Carew gave out of his heart, then one of the youths he mentored gave him his heart

Ed Mylett was still smarting from a humiliating performance at the basketball championship game earlier in the day. That evening, he was hitting line drives — his true love – into center field.

He was holding and swinging the bat flat and choppy like his hero, baseball legend Rod Carew, when he heard a voice from behind the backstop. “Who’s the little lefty? I like this kid’s swing.”

Ed glanced back. It was #29 himself, Rod Carew, MLB’s hitting maestro for 19 seasons. Ed was flabbergasted.

“Hey, kid, how would you like me to work with you and train you? Can you make it to my batting cages every Tuesday night?”

Wilting before his hero, Ed struggled to find the words. Yes, yes, yes. He would be there.

In the following months, Rod altruistically gave of himself and mentored 8th-grader Ed Mylett, as he did selflessly with hundreds of other talented young people throughout Southern California. Not only did he provide technical expertise, but he also spoke words of confidence into the kids’ lives.

Rod is a born-again Christian. His generosity eventually proved the Bible’s admonition, “Give, and it will be given you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be put into your lap.” (Luke 6:38)

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One of those hundreds of kids saved Rod’s life, Ed says on his Aug. 24, 2017 Elite Training Library video.

In September 2015, Rod suffered a massive heart attack on a golf course. Golfing by himself, he was on the first hole at the time. He drove his golf cart to the clubhouse and someone called paramedics. Read how the kid he mentored blessed Rod Carew with a heart.

He killed her dad. How could she ever forgive him?

Figure skating brought moments of peace to Katherine Thacker. She needed a healthy outlet because her mind was obsessed with hateful thoughts directed toward the suspect who killed her father, a cop, while he was on duty.

“I started writing very angry letters to the man who killed my dad and expressed my hurt,” Katherine says on a 700 Club video. “But not only did I express my hurt, I also expressed what I wished could happen to him. And they were really really hateful.”

Her ever-present hatred started in 1998. That’s when three Kentucky police officers arrived at the front door of their home to break the bad news to the family.

“It was like being hit by a Mack truck,” she says. “Watching the relationships that my friends had with their dads, I definitely envied them.”

Ice skating was a moment of beauty in her life. “It was always an outlet for me,” she remembers.

Broken in spirit, she turned away from God.

“Why did God let my dad die?” she asked. “If God’s good, why did He let the man who killed my dad do this?”

Her distancing from God continued until she became a junior in high school when she went to a week-long summer Christian camp. The motivational speaker displayed a genuine joy that Katherine realized she lacked. Read the rest: Forgiveness for her dad’s murderer.

Career-ending injury brought Inky Johnson his dream life

The dream from age 7 was coming true. Inky Johnson was in his junior year in college with all the paperwork signed for the NFL draft. He was among the top 30 and was guaranteed to make millions doing what he loved.

All he had to do was play 10 more games and his future would be set, but when he went to make a regular tackle against an Air Force player in 2006 — a tackle “I could make with my eyes closed” — the cornerback ruptured his subclavian artery and could not get up.

“I never thought about a career-ending injury,” Inky says in an Above Inspiration video. “I woke up from that surgery and the thing I placed my identity in was now gone.”

His right arm was paralyzed. Every day he lives with pain. But he rose above the crushed spirit and now delivers motivational speeches, encouraging people to serve Jesus and trust Him with their destiny.

Inquoris Johnson was raised in a 14-member household crammed in a two-bedroom home on Atlanta’s poor and violent side. His mom pulled double shifts to put food on the table, and Inky says he wanted to pull the whole family out of poverty.

Every day was dedicated to training to fulfill the dream. He drilled, worked out and practiced. His family attended church, and he asked God to bless his dream.

When he joined the Volunteers at the University of Tennessee, he became their starting cornerback and was on the trajectory to success; the commitment and effort was paying off.

Then he woke up on the fateful day and followed his usual routine: run two miles to the fire station and two miles back to warm up. Throw the football at the ceiling to practice catches at all angles by surprise. Visualize himself performing to perfection.

“Two minutes left in the game, and I go to make a tackle – that I can make with my eyes closed And I hit this guy and as soon as I hit him, I knew it was a problem, but I didn’t think it would be this type of problem. When I hit him every breath from my body left, my body goes completely limp. I fall to the ground.”

Inky blacked out. His teammates came over to him and told him to get up. “Let’s rock man,” they said. Read the rest: When bad things happen to good people: Inky Johnson’s career-ending injury.

Only a dagger could stop volleyball sensation Jenny Johnson Jordan

“You would have had to put a dagger in her heart to stop,” her coach said of Jenny Johnson Jordan, team captain of the under-manned UCLA volleyball squad that triumphed in semi-finals against Penn State in 1994.

With only nine healthy players, the team had to fight for every single victory in their second place finish nationally.

Jenny never left her faith on the bench.

“The culture is trying to say, ‘Hey, you leave your faith over there and now you can come play your sport. Pick it up when you’re done. We don’t want to see it,’” Jenny says. “I was like, ‘How can you be super competitive and fiery (which I was) and also honor the Lord. I learned very quickly that me and my fire and desire to win and to honor the Lord came when I would do it the right way. “

That zeal led Jenny and her team to a national championship and two runner-ups in 1992 and 1994. She won All-Tournament Team honors in 1994.

Later, she won the silver medal at the 1999 Beach Volleyball World Championships in Marseille with her partner.

The daughter of 1960 decathlete gold-medal winner Rafer Johnson, Jenny grew up in the world of sports. Naturally, she wanted to join a highly competitive college program, so she went to UCLA.

“When I made it to the collegiate level I was just learning how to own my faith and what it means to have God in my sport, that they’re not separate things because that’s how I saw it,” she told Gospel Light Society.

Even in the locker room, she says, you’re pressured to listen to certain pump-up music. “These are places we can take stands as believers, which I know is not always comfortable or easy,” she says. “But it’s important.”

She had one coach at UCLA who was a Christian and encouraged her to keep up her Christian testimony. As she accepted the challenge, she got even better at volleyball and became the team captain.

Upon graduation, she transitioned to beach volleyball, where she made an even bigger name for herself. Read the rest: Christian volleyball star Jenny Johnson Jordan brings Jesus to the sport.

Mahomes, hot arm, cool character, Christian QB

chiefs_0QB Patrick Mahomes, whose confident leadership and hot arm provided the edge for the Kansas City Chiefs first Super Bowl win in 50 years, is very open about his convictions.

“Faith has always been big with me,” the Super Bowl MVP told Fox News. “I’m glorifying Him every single time I’m out there. I understand that He’s given me a lot of blessings in my life, and I’m trying to maximize them and glorify Him.”

The young QB kept his poise under pressure as the Chiefs were squelched for three quarters and appeared ready to lose their first Super Bowl appearance in half a century. But in the last seven minutes of the game, trailing 20-10 to the San Francisco 49ers, the 24-year-old reignited his precision passing and overturned the score.

440px-Patrick_Mahomes_IIMahomes made his decision to accept and follow Jesus in the seventh grade when his parents got divorced. He wanted to be a man of the church, attended youth group, raised his hands to worship God, declined invitations to hang out so he could do more chores and watch over his siblings at home, according to Belief Net.

His dad, Pat Mahomes, was a Major League Baseball pitcher, and Mahomes almost followed in his father’s footsteps, pitching a no hitter with 16 strikeouts his senior year at Whitehouse High School in Whitehouse Texas.

He also played basketball, but football intrigued him with the vast amount of plays and strategies to learn. During his senior year, Mahomes threw 4,619 passing yards and 50 passing touchdowns. He rushed 948 yards, including 15 touchdowns.

Being a two-prong attacking quarterback proved critical during the Super Bowl. One of the Chiefs’ touchdowns was by Mahomes, who ran the ball in.

Mahomes was a top prospect for MLB draft in 2014, but he committed to Texas Tech University with a football scholarship. As a junior, Mahomes led the country in yards per game (421), passing yards (5,052), total offense (5,312), points responsible for (318) and total touchdowns (53).

He opted out of his senior year to go pro and was drafted by the Chiefs in 2017. He became the starting quarterback the next year and cultivated a great rapport with the team. “He was always about the team, always about his teammates, always about the other person,” one coach told the Christian Post.

His Christianity played out in humility. “There would be a play where he’d make an incredible throw or he’d scramble around and make a big run for a touchdown and he’d come off the field saying to his teammates, ‘great catch’ or ‘great block,’” said Brad Cook, who was Whitehouse’s offensive coordinator Mahomes’ senior season, in Yahoo Sports. Read the rest: Patrick Mahomes Christian.

How can a brain tumor be a good thing? Ask Scott Hamilton

Scott_Hamilton_olympicsFigure skating sensation Scott Hamilton owes his Olympic gold medal to… a brain tumor.

It limited his growth as a child and baffled doctors who could never find the cause of the problem. Through an unlikely series of events related to his frequent visits to doctors, he wound up in figure skating.

“Who would I be without a brain tumor?” Scott reflects in a White Chair Productions video. “I could choose to look at it as debilitating, to choose to focus on the suffering. (But) I choose to look at that brain tumor as the greatest gift I’ve ever gotten because it made everything else possible.”

In 1984, the United States hadn’t won a gold medal in men’s figure skating for 24 years. Hamilton’s feat made him one of the top eight most popular American athletes, according to an Associated Press study.

The 5’4” athlete was adopted by two college professors who raised him in Bowling Green, Ohio. Badgered by health issues from childhood, his lack of normal growth caused experts to search in vain for a cause.

“When I came back from being in and out of hospitals, I ended up going to the skating club by accident,” Scott remembers. “I found skating.”

Scott_HamiltonHe excelled on ice. His progress in the sport caused him to move away from home to receive training by better coaches.

His first awareness of a need for God arose after his mother lost a battle to cancer. “Something awakened in me,” he says. “I knew I needed something better. I knew I needed some strength.”

Beginning in 1981, Scott won 16 consecutive national and international championships. He loved entertaining spectators. His signature move was a backflip, a move so dangerous it was banned by U.S. Figure Skating and Olympic competition rules. Because it was risky, it was also a crowd-pleaser.

B9315966892Z.1_20150124003822_000_G7A9OQ2N3.1-0After bringing Olympic gold to male figure skating, Scott won another world championship and retired from amateur competition to the professional, entertainment sector, where he performed until 2001.

In 1997 Hamilton was forced to leave figure skating to undergo chemotherapy for testicular cancer. It was a scary moment because cancer had claimed the life of his mother. With God’s help Scott overcame the health battle, but it was emotionally staggering.

“I survived something that took the most important person, my mother, off this planet,” he says. “My mom died. I survived. Why?”

He started to ask what his purpose was. His soon-to-be wife helped answer that question. Tracie Hamilton introduced him to Jesus and they began to attend church together.

As he was getting to know the principles of Christianity, Scott and his wife prayed to be able to have a child — no easy thing for a survivor of testicular cancer.

But God answered their prayers. Nine months after their wedding in 2002 they were blessed with a baby boy, Aiden.

Anyone would say that Scott had already suffered through more than his share of health issues. But after the growth deficiency and his battle with testicular cancer, Hamilton discovered he had a brain tumor.

His wife took his hands in hers and they started to pray.

“It was in that moment I knew where I was going to put everything, my trust, my faith, everything,” he remembers. “That was the most powerful moment in my life. From that moment forward, we just said, whatever it is, whatever it takes.”

The biopsy was fear-provoking in itself. Doctors drilled a hole through Hamilton’s skull, weaved their way through the coils of the brain, cut out a small piece of the tumor, extracting it for later analysis.

“We seem to have found a safe corridor to do that,” the doctors told him at the time. Read the rest: Scott Hamilton Christian.