Teaching about more than sports



July 25, 2013 - 12:00 AM

Scores of youngsters are coming “off the bench” this week to learn about sports, as well as their relationships with God.
Iola’s First Baptist Church, in conjunction with Uncharted Waters Sports Ministry, is in the midst of its weeklong summer sports camp, geared to youngsters ages 4-12.
A team of visiting coaches from UW, based in Colorado Springs, is at the church through Friday to instruct the children on soccer, football and basketball, as well as cheerleading and drama, said Levi Marti, head coach of the six visiting instructors.
Marti also oversees soccer drills.
Each day begins with a group song and dance session before the students break into their various sports, where they go through a number of warmup exercises and visits with other FBC members to talk about reflections on God, life or other topics.
Then, the drills begin. The week begins with the basic fundamentals of each sport, then slowly begins adding more developed concepts.
Each day has a theme, tied to the “B-E-N-C-H,” Marti explained.
Monday’s theme was “Be Prepared,” while Tuesday’s focused on “Encouragement.”
On Wednesday, the instructors taught the youngsters how to “Narrow Your Focus,” Today’s will be “Change the Outcome” and Friday will wrap up the week with “Bring Hope to Others.”
“The kids get a lot out of this, and I think we instructors do, too,” said Marti.
The visiting instructors have hosted camps from across the country — 11 other teams are doing likewise — for the past seven weeks.
“We have camps from Virginia and Florida to California and Hawaii,” Marti said. “We have a lot of fun doing it.”
The impetus behind the summer sports camp was to find a new approach for summer activities for youngsters at First Baptist, explained Becky Quinn, wife of FBC pastor Mike Quinn.
In years past, Vacation Bible School sessions might draw around 45 youngsters, she said.
The numbers for the sports camp have exceeded 90.
“The turnout has been great,” she said. “This week has gone well.”

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