Athletics: It’s About More Than Just Sports

WANTED: The Next Generation of Christian Leaders

Volume 7 | Issue 1 | Spring 2011

Homecoming — Charlie McMahan
Jersey Retirement Ceremony

Athletics: It’s About More Than Just Sports

In many athletic arenas, the retirement of a jersey is a testament to above-and-beyond athletic achievements. Everyone knows Michael Jordan as the wearer of number 23 and Magic Johnson for the number 32. But at CCU, the retirement of a jersey is about so much more than athletic achievement. It’s about how the person wearing the jersey has taken what’s been learned at CCU and put it into practice for the kingdom.

Basketball in a Christian Context

For Charlie McMahan (BA ’86), it was “basketball in a Christian college context and a girl named Sherry” that led him to CCU. While at CCU, God used people like Coach Tony Wallingford, Steve Hooks, Tom Friskney (BS ’51, MA ’55), and Bob Stacy (BS ’51) to make an impact on his life. On and off the court, God was preparing Charlie, who has been serving as the Senior Minister at SouthBrook Christian Church in Miamisburg, OH, since 1992. On January 22, 2011, Charlie’s jersey was added to the CCU rafters along with Bob Russell’s (BS ’65) jersey, which was retired in 2008 as a testament to a great athletic career and an even greater kingdom career.

“While I was at CCU, I became more confident to lead due to clarity of purpose. I went from a student without any vision to one with a dream of building a church. I’m living my dream. CCU gave me a love for Jesus’ church,” Charlie says. Athletics played a role in the change that took place in Charlie during his four years as a student. “The confidence Tony Wallingford built in me and the adversity I had to overcome in athletics are invaluable tools I use every day in life and leadership.”

Through athletics, students learn life skills that aren’t just important on the basketball court or soccer field, but for the rest of their lives. “Athletics gives young people an opportunity to develop interpersonal skills and deal with situations that prepare them for anything life can throw their way. It teaches them a work ethic, collaboration, teamwork, trust, and many other positive traits that can shape a young person’s character. When anyone has been an athlete, they seem to be more prepared to impact any group they are a part of,” says Mark Harden, former Men’s Head Basketball Coach.

Athletics Builds Character

CCU continues the tradition of cultivating these qualities in our student athletes. Head Men’s Basketball Coach Jason Gillespie says, “Athletics is an incredible way to build and cultivate character. Challenging young men and women to be Christian examples in the arena of competition will help them continue to do so when they are finished with their time here.”

For Charlie McMahan, the lessons he learned from Coach Tony Wallingford and his teammates did just that. Charlie thinks that the responsibility of CCU alumni and the church is “willingness to change and give the next generation what was given to us: the freedom to innovate and see the church as being more than we can often think or imagine.”

Now when student athletes set foot on Jill Rendel Court, they will see the jersey of CCU greats Bob Russell and Charlie McMahan. And maybe, just maybe, one day their jersey will hang alongside these two as a tribute to the lives that Jesus has called us to live.