This blog was written by Darla Kernell, Seabreeze Sports Director.
Lively music was playing along with a memorable slideshow as the Seabreeze auditorium began to fill with excited Upward basketball players, cheerleaders and their family and friends. The closing ceremony was about to begin and it was hard for everyone to believe that the unforgettable, successful, ten-week season was coming to end.
We have God to thank for that. Each week, our devoted Prayer Commissioner emailed the team of 100 prayer partners, lifting up the needs of our league and giving praise when prayers were answered. We have so much gratitude for the devotion of these members, and of course it is no coincidence that gratitude was one of our virtues we learned about all season.
“Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank Him because you believe in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Parents and extended family took notice of the prayer going on during the games and expressed gratitude that their child was learning how to pray. Here’s what some had to say:
“My child has played in several leagues and attends a public school. This was his first experience seeing kids his age pray. It was so good for him! Thank You!” Upward Mom
“Prayer before each game sets this league apart. That’s why we love Upward!” Upward Dad
“Teaching the kids to pray and passing out the game stars started a lot of conversations in my car that I’ve never had with my children. Thank you!” Upward Mom
The next part of our ceremony involved friendly competition amongst some of the coaches. They were all such good sports and didn’t hesitate to say “Yes!” when asked to participate in some of our minute-to-win-it type games. The games included a balloon relay which involved everyone in attendance. The winning coach had to be the first to get the balloon from their designated section, run onto the stage and then pop it by sitting on it. Of course the kids loved it! Cheering and laughter was coming from all corners of the auditorium and when the first coach achieved the goal, VICTORY! The next game was a little sweeter, as the coaches had to get a cookie from their forehead to their mouths without using their hands. A classic game that all kids love. It was a perfect opportunity for the children to watch coaches from all divisions participate in competition, displaying a great attitude of sportsmanship and respect, even if they didn’t win. All of our coaches modeled these virtues throughout season which was our main theme:
“Show proper respect to everyone.” 1 Peter 2:17
This is what some parents had to say about this:
“We Loved the focus on character, sportsmanship and respect towards one another over competition.” Upward Dad
“Please continue teaching sportsmanship and respect and what it looks like in the Christian life. Each child needs this!” Upward Dad
Next up, our cheerleaders! They performed several cheers and a dance routine. The little ladies learned cheers and chants that supported all teams, all divisions and took turns cheering for both home and away teams. Upward is a unified league with a common goal, promoting the discovery of Jesus through sports.
“My daughter has been in the league for four years. This is the best cheer league ever!” Upward Mom
“This league has made all of the difference in my daughter. She has made friends, something hard for her to do, learned how to trust people other than us (her parents) and has stepped out of her shell and broken free of her shyness. I’m so grateful!” Upward Cheer Mom
Trust. That was our last virtue we focused on this season. It was a great experience to watch the coaches gather the athletes around mid-practice and begin a discussion on this topic:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
Our celebration ended with an exciting parade of basketball players and a gospel presentation that brought all three of these virtues together.
So here’s the long and short of the 2015-16 Upward Season:
We give thanks to every volunteer for devoting many hours throughout the season, to the parents who trusted us with their kids, and more than anyone else, we thank God for the campus, this ministry and the opportunity to serve our community. We rejoice in the fact that, “God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16