BUMP SET SPIKE!

volleyball-for-funVolleyball is one of many sports that I enjoy and play frequently. My enjoyment of volleyball came to me when I was in Middle School. It was introduced to me while in physical education class. I can still remember the first time I spiked the ball. The thrill of it excited me so much that I instantly wanted to play on a team. Unfortunately, the thrill was short lived as the unit in class was only a few weeks long, and at the time, there was not even a men’s volleyball program at the high school I would be attending. However, during my sophomore year a men’s volleyball team started at both the junior and varsity levels, and I was ecstatic. I tried out and made the JV team.

Ever since then, I have actively been playing on teams…… intramurals in college, leagues at rec centers, and even leagues here in prison. This is my second full summer at this prison in Seagoville, and my second summer being involved in the volleyball league. The spring season is a three-man sand volleyball league, while the summer league is two-man. Last year’s three-man league was a random pick out of a hat draft for the teams. It was basically luck of the draw.

This year’s three-man season was an actual draft. There were 48 guys that signed up to play, so there would be sixteen equally divided teams of three. Sixteen captains were selected, me being one of them. There would only be two rounds of picks, and we randomly drew for draft order. We would go in order from #1 through 16, followed by sixteen again down to 1. I selected #4 spot, which meant I would have picks #4 and #29. When it came to my turn to select my first teammate, I decided not to choose a talented volleyball player, but I chose someone who had never played volleyball before. Then when it came around to me again for pick #29 and only four guys remaining, I again chose someone who never played volleyball before.

Many of you know how competitive I am, so you may ask why I chose the people I did. Let me say that coming to prison has definitely changed my perspective on life. When competing in sports now, I know it’s not all about winning. I have had my share of winning back in the day, and had my moments to shine. These days especially in prison, I want to help people out, teach them, and coach them. I want them to have a chance to shine. It’s not all about me anymore. It’s about them. And let me tell you, the two guys on my team are awesome. Not necessarily awesome at their volleyball skills, but awesome team players, very easy to coach, great listeners, respectful of my suggestions, easy to talk to, and guys who want to practice and get better. Here in prison, there aren’t a whole lot of people like that. I feel blessed that they are on my team, considering I didn’t even really know these guys before I chose them.

We started from square one, and are gradually working our way up. Right now we are halfway through the season and everyone is saying we are the most improved team thus far, playing better and better every game. And besides that, we all are having a great time, with a constant flow of smiles and laughter. All three of us agree that prison volleyball is not about winning, but about having a fun time, getting some exercise and enjoying our time together. That we are definitely doing!

You see, selecting and training a volleyball team is similar to leading someone to Christ. One must start from square one – form a relationship, build the relationship, and teach God’s Word, which can lead them to Christ. And in volleyball – form a team, build the team, and teach the skills, which can lead to positive results. It sounds simple enough, but it does take work. Every ministry and sports team has encountered trials before becoming successful. It takes practice and training to get on top. With God’s help and the right attitude it can happen. That is all God asks of us….. to give others a chance. Don’t give up on people no matter how “lost” they are. I took a chance with my volleyball team, and I pray that you’ll take that chance with leading others to Christ. It’s funny how a simple game of volleyball can help me to become a better witness for Christ.

I can’t say I love prison, but what I can say is I do love what prison is doing to me.

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America’s Sport: Baseball

Busch2BIG“Swing, and a long one… way back, way back… go crazy, folks, go crazy!!”

“Peanuts, popcorn, crackerjacks”

“Get up, baby, get up… Oh yea it’s gone!!”

“Anybody want a sodee and a free straw?”

Oh yea, it’s here! The sounds of baseball! After a 5 month lull the 2016 Major League Baseball season is finally underway. I’m excited since baseball is my favorite sport. It helps being a St Louis Cardinal fan that makes my love for the sport skyrocket since the Cardinals are always one of the frontrunners to make a deep run into the playoffs. This season is no different, although the Chicago Cubs finally have a good team and will give us a run for our money. I’m excited, as I know it’ll be another great year, and thankfully I’ll be able to pick up KMOX 1120, the Cardinal radio station in St Louis, in Dallas, Texas. Soon I’ll be able to watch the games on television , and some day attend their games again.

Before being incarcerated I would attend approximately 10 – 15 major league games each season, with a majority of those being Cardinal games. Even when I was living in Wisconsin I would buy the cable MLB package just to watch every Cardinal game. Some people would say I’m obsessed, but I just have a passion for the sport.

It’s funny being here in Texas, there are a handful of inmates from St Louis. One thing we all have in common is that we all love the Cardinals. St Louis every year is rated the # 1 baseball city in all of America. While all of Green Bay and most of Wisconsin bleeds green and gold for the Packers, all St. Louisians bleed Cardinal red. I have a lot of memories attending , as well as watching, the Cardinals throughout my life.

Here is a list of my memorable moments:

  • Attending the game Mark McGuire smashed a 545 foot homerun
  • Watching Game 6 of the 2011 World Series on TV… need I say more?
  • Attending the game at Wrigley Field in Chicago watching Greg Maddox pitch his 300th
  • Watching my brother Eric catch a Barry Bonds foul ball, while my other brother claims that he got a fingernail on the ball as it entered the stands and that’s why Eric caught it.
  • I have attended four Cardinal Playoff games without ever seeing them lose.
  • Attending County Stadium last home opener game in Milwaukee WI…. “It was Freezing”!!!!!!!
  • Tailgating prior to a Brewer’s Games
  • Watching batting practice
  • Getting a Field pass to watch batting practice before the game….Thanks, Tim!
  • Attending the Easter Sunday game and watching Albert Pujols hit three home runs
  • Meeting in front of the Stan Musial statue
  • Buying pretzels from the pretzel man – a street vendor – before the game….way cheaper!!!
  • Bringing my baseball glove to every game as a kid in hopes of catching a ball—even though we were sitting in the upper deck
  • Ozzie Smith’s back flips to start every Cardinal home game.
  • Besides Ozzie, watching my favorite players Willie McGee, Tommy Herr, Bob Forsch, Vince Coleman, and Ray Lankford
  • Collecting hundreds of baseball cards
  • Riding my bike with my brother to the baseball card shop and just looking at all the cards under glass without ever intending on buying any
  • How about those Anheuser Busch Clydesdales?
  • Singing “Take Me out to the Ballgame”
  • Ernie Hays at the organ for years and years
  • Parking a mile away from the stadium because my dad hated to pay for parking
  • Fireworks after a win
  • See the St. Louis Arch from inside the stadium
  • A sea of red in the stadium

I know with my love of the sport, I’ll have many more memories and experiences of baseball in the future. If you’re a baseball fan, enjoy this upcoming season and attend a game or two. I can almost guarantee something will happen inside the stadium that you’ll remember for a lifetime.