1999 march

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Sports Spectrum Readers Respond


Nuthua ~ RaadaD's Right, Atlllete Ba.dos

I Fanspeak I like to hear athletes testify for Jesus Christ, but I expect them to walk their talk. - MARSHA LEACH

Cerro Gordo, IL

Out Of The Grey I really enjoyed your articles on Mike "Pinball" Clemens and Catriona Le May Doan. It was very nice to read about the CFL and about Canadian athletes. I think your article about "Pinball" gives the CFL some exposure to Americans who might not otherwise hear about the greatest football league in the world. The CFL season ended with a thriller that was decided in the final two seconds by a field goal. It was the most exciting Grey Cup I have ever seen.

know what you truly believe and what is important to you in life. However, few people's testimonies can compare to what Randall Cunningham did this year after the Vikings' Monday Night Football victory over the Packers. He let us all know in a very positive way that he enjoyed the success that God had given him that day, but that his real joy came from kno wing Christ as his personal Savior, and from his family. He talked about how God had been there through the down times. It was not pushy or showy, it was done in a very humble and sincere way. -JOHN DOORNEBAL

Hull, IA

55 Fo:rulll What Christian sports figure impressed you the most in 1998?

-JOEL SLOMP • Scott Brosius. After he joined Brooks, AB, Canada the Yankees, the team set an AL record by winning 116 games in a season with him at the "hot corPepper's Profession I want to take this opportunity ner." He was in my favorite SS to commend you on your recog- article, "All For One ," about nition of Green Bay Head Christians on the Yankees. After the Yankees swept the Athletic Trainer, Pepper Burruss and the profession of Athletic Padres in the 1998 World Series, Scott became the Most Valuable Training in general. I too, am a Certified Athletic Player and then went on to give Trainer with over 24 years expe- glory to God. I'm happy that God rience. As a Christian, I am in a blessed Scott with his first World position to not only treat injured Series championship, and I'm athletes physically, but also happy for the Yankees because offer them spiritual guidance. they were blessed with Scott. -JOSIAH D. ANDERSON Our profession is unique in that Milpitas, CA we see these athletes in various states of distress, and I know that God uses us to provide • The Christian sports figure that impressed me the most in 1998 strength and wisdom. -KENKLADmK was golfer Casey Martin. Casey Eastern Oregon University isn't ashamed or embarrassed about his faith in God. Whether it is on national TV, in an article, Rootin' For Randall We hear many athletes today or on the radio, I noticed that thanking God for something. This Casey doesn't hesitate to share is a great way to let other people where his source of strength 2


Inside Scoop "Are you ever going to run out of athletes to cover?" That's a question a friend asked me the other day, wondering if we'll someday get to the end of our list of qualified Christian sports people. So far, it's not been a problem. Our files are crowded with talented, dedicated Christian athletes. But how did we find out about these people? Here's a look at how we discovered that the athletes inside this edition of SS are people of faith. Hersey Hawkins: from Bruce McDonald, chaplain of the 76ers. Danny Sheaffer: our kindred spirits at Unlimited Potential, Inc. told us. Joey Buran: suggested by a reader. Jonty Rhodes: through Christians In Sports, a sports ministry in England. Kevin Malone: he's been a friend of SS since his days in Montreal. David Robinson: everybody knows about him. Tubby Smith; Cameron Mills: writer Ken Walker filled us in. Mike Lightfoot: several readers bragged about him (they were right). Matt Diaz: his mom writes for Sports Spectrum. Vaughn Schill: his dad, a college friend of mine, told me. Jessica Field: writer Mike Malony let us know about her. Becky Varnum: several folks from her hometown contacted us. Tracy Hanson: Cris Stevens, LPGA Bible studies leader, told us. Jean Pronovost: When I interviewed another NHL player, Ryan Walter, he mentioned Jean. So, it's a mixed bag of contacts that leads us to each edition of SS. With all the help we have in getting new names, I don't think we'll ever run out of them. Dave Branon managing editor comes from. Casey reminds me of something C.S. Lewis wrote, "Suffering is God's megaphone." Casey is using his situation to honor God and to be a godly testimony, and I respect that very much.


with Jesus, he is a man who wants to bow instead of bask in success, for he understands Who really deserves the glory. -GREGMURKS Gulf Breeze, FL


Rochester Hills, MI New Forum Question What effect did the NBA lockout • Randall Cunningham made the have on your interest in the NBA? most lasting impression on me. The sight of Cunning ham Just Write It! being interviewed on his knees To send us your opinion, write after leading the Vikings to a win to this address: on national TV last season was Letters of Intent unforgettable. This act of contriSports Spectrum tion must have impacted people Box 3566 around the country-including Grand Rapids, MI 49501 the reporter who conducted the Fax: 616-957-5741 interview while kneeling! E-mail: ssmag@sport.org Because of his relationship










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The Artful Dodger As the GM of one of baseball's most storied franchises, Kevin Malone faces a life that's one big deal after another by Victor Lee

Hersey Hawkins with Bruce McDonald


Lee'd Stories Sports news potpourri by Victor Lee

Noted as one of the sports world's top Christians, David Robinson readily admits he hasn't arrived by Christin Ditchfield


ADVISORSMichelle Akers, US national soccer team. Tim Cash. Unlimited Potential. Inc.. : Clark Kellogg, CBS college basketball analyst; r Vince Nauss, executive director, Baseball Chapel; r Kyle Role Jr.. Athletic Resource Management; : Alice Simpson, chaplain, Cleveland Rockers; r Bruce Smith, Hockey Ministries International; : Cris Stevens, LPGA Bible studies leader; Chuck 1 Swirsky, play-by-play announcer, Toronto Raplors; 1 Claude Terry, director, Pro Ba~ket ball Fellowship SPORTS SPECTRUM is produced t 0 times a year by Discovery House Publishers, Box 3566, Grand Rapids, Ml49501-3566, which is affiliated with ABC Ministries. a nondenominational Christian organization whose purpose is to lead people of all nations to personal faith in Jesus Christ and to growth in His likeness by teaching principles from the Bible. Printed in USA. Copyright @ t999 by Discovery House Publishers. Bible quotations, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright @ 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.


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Dismrry House PubUshers

Joey Buran, Jonty Rhodes, Danny Sheaffer, Amy Wiersma compiled by Dave Branon

The SWirsky Report


by Chuck Swirsky

A selection of top college athletes who live for more than sports by Jim Crosby, Mike Malony, Christin Ditch field, Dave Branon, Rob Bentz


5 Campus Classics




Permissions, Reprints Contact: Debbie Miller Fax : 1-616-957-5741 E-mail: dmiller@rbc.org



Tall Order

General correspondence, Letters to the Editor, or Writer's Query (no unsolicited manuscripls, please) Mail: Managing Editor, PO Box 3566, Grand Rapids, Ml 49501-3566 E-mail : ssmag@sport.org Fax: 1-616-957-5741



Straight Talk


Pilot Light National championships are becoming routine for this small college giant of a man, Mike Lightfoot by Dave Branon


Tracy Hanson with Roxanne Robbins


Legends Jean Pronovost by Tom Felten


Airing It Out A Real Man by Rob Bentz


Tubby and Me Former Kentucky Wildcat player and current team chaplain Cameron Mills talks about his coach, Tubby Smith by Cameron Mills with Ken Walker



Str~ight T~lk

With .. .


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Guard, Seattle Sonics 1988 College Basketball Player of the Year 1991 NBA AU-Star 1998 Pacific Conference Sportsmanship Award s an NBA rookie, there were times when I felt that everyone was pulling me in different directions. The coach wanted more practice time, my wife wanted me to talk to her more, my family needed more money, and my friends wanted me to "hang out" with them more. At the same time, investors were calling, reporters wanted more interviews, and to top it all off, I was in the midst of my first slump as a professional ballplayer. It was during this time that someone approached me about the claims of Christ. However, I felt that I didn't have time for Christ. Two things were in the way of considering Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. First, my life was already overflowing with things to do, and Christianity seemed like just another thing to add to my busy life! Second, when I heard the gospel of Christ, I did not see how it related or could help me. The answer to the first obstacle was found in a Bible verse that today is one of my favorites. Mark 8:36 asks the question, "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" Christ is not just another option among many. He is the only way to God. In John 14:6, Christ says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." The answer to the second obstacle was not found quite as easily. God had to show me the value of the gospel over a period of three to four years, because I had always thought I was basically a good person with a good heart, and I had never cheated on my wife. However, being good will not get us into heaven. I can best illustrate it this way: God blessed me with good shooting skills. I have consistently placed in the Top 10 in free

throw percentage, usually shooting between 86 and 88 percent. That's better than all but a few NBA players. So, if I compared myself with others, I rated very well. But I'm still not perfect. In life, God says we have to be perfect (Matthew 5:48), and we have to keep all His laws (James 2:10). He is the standard, not others. So, in God's eyes, 88 or even 98 percent isn't good enough. We all break God's laws and fall short of God's glory (Romans 3:23). The result of this is serious; the Bible says in Romans 6:23 that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life." This is why we all need a Savior. I had to admit that I am a sinner, and I had to ask God to forgive me and Christ to save me-and He did! You too can have your sins forgiven. Pray, "Dear God, thank You for Your Son, Jesus, and the sacrifice He made by dying for our sins. Jesus, please come into my heart and forgive me of my sins. Change me and help me follow Your Word. Amen."

Free Booldet It took Hersey Hawkins a while to decide that faith in Christ is important. If you've ever wondered about why this issue is so vital, you'll want to get the RBC Ministries booklet, Why Does It Make Sense To Believe In Christ? Request it by writing to Sports Spectrum Booklet Offer, Box 3566, Grand Rapids, MI 49501. Ask for the free booklet by title and this number: Q1104.

Oij Victor ~ee N~News Fwoaa The Wodd OISpollts ~ee ' d




The Gift of Life • Spring football practice is about to get under way at Oklahoma State University. It is a time of fre sh starts. Head coach Bob Simmons knows all

be glorified. At first I tried to keep it private, but no matter how hard I tried, He got the glory." One of Simmons' first acts when he was hired as head foot· ball coach at OSU was to gather all his coaches with Fellowship

ing memory. The ABL folded in December, unofficially overcome by the big-money WNBA. Yet no one within the WNBA is foolish enough to be cheering, least of aU Nancy Lieberman-eline, the first great women's basketball

same talent. "They put women's basketball out front for a year instead of three or four months," says the Shock coach. "They had a great quality of play, and we have a great quality of play." Now that influential players such as Jennifer Azzi are free to go to the WNBA, its quality of play will increase, but the WNBA's gain is women's basketball's loss. Applying a principle of her Christian faith, Nancy says, "No one should ever want to succeed because of somebody else's crisis."

Lockout Lessons



DECEMBER 2 5 , 1998

.A Sharing everything. On March 16, 1996, Linda Simmons gave a big part of herself to her husband.

about fresh starts in a context far greater than football. Simmons might not be alive today had his wife, Linda, not given him one of her kidneys. In the crisis of their lives, the Simmons, married 27 years, turned to Christ for solutions and support. Linda Sin:~mons couldn't bear the idea of a possible twoyear wait for a kidney donor match, so she gave her husband renewed life. "Talk about the gift of giving-this is a truly unselfish thing done by my wife," says Simmons, 50. "But this whole experience has not been about Bob or Linda Simmons. It's about what God can do in your life when you believe and have faith. This happened so His name could

of Christian Athletes representative John Talley and set up a regular FCA meeting with the team. Now Simmons gives his players a living illustration of new life in Christ. "Jesus was the first example of giving when He came and died for our sins," Simmons says. "His was the gift of eternal life. I believe that when we are in a position to give life-whether through telling others about Jesus or being an organ donor, or in whatever way-He wants us to do it."

A Big Loss • The American Basketball League (ABL) should be heading into its playoffs right about now, but instead the league is a fad-

player, t he sport's greatest ambassador, and a survivor of two failed leagues. Lieberman-eline was so excited to see professional women's basketball make it that she played in the WNBA at age 39 before becoming the coach of the Detroit Shock before the 1998 season. "In my opinion, it is never good when women's basketball or women's sports closes down shop," Nancy says. "I was a fan of the ABL. We lost about 110 jobs for women." Lieberman-Cline says, "They weren't our rivals." In fact, the argument can be made that the two leagues-the ABL playing a traditional season and the WNBA, a summer seasoncomplemented each other, even though they competed for the

• As the NBA moves through its shortened season, we can reflect on what we learned from the lockout. Namely, that we can live without the NBA. Here's hoping the players and owners learned this sobering truth. "People who at one time thought the NBA was irreplaceable in their life learned through the lockout that it was a luxury they could live without," says Michael Wozniak, for five years part of the NBA marketing team and now market ing director for Sports Outreach America. "As marketers, you never want to put yourself in that position. It's very hard to convince people a second time that they need something." AU of sports could learn from the NBA experience. The landscape of athletic competition worldwide is so vast and the media covers it so expansively that virtually any one element can be removed and the void can be easily filled. It is never wise to overestimate one's value. Veteran sportswriter Victor Lee lives in Wake Forest, North Carolina. _.. Comments? vlee@sport.org

or Fax 1-616-957-5741



Champions ~



Dave Branon

----------------------------------------------SDa_pdi.QCs CN B_eoJl Wia&O&'S


In Joey Buran's surfing world, impeccable timing is everything. Fifteen years have passed since Buran's name was commonplace among his surfing brotherhood. That's when he became the first Californian ever to claim the prestigious Pipeline Masters championship in Hawaii. Since then, Buran's life has had as many ups and downs as the ocean tide. Over the past decade and a half, he has gone from being the world's seventh-ranked surfer to spending 7 years away from the sport in exchange for a life of fulltime Christian ministry. "Just like Jesus told Andrew, James, and John to drop their nets and follow Him, I felt that Jesus was telling me to drop my surfboard and follow Him," says Buran, 37, a pastor at a church in Vista, California. After winning at Pipeline in 1983, Buran, who once made his livelihood riding the crest of the mighty Pacific, found himself 2,000 miles away, starting churches on the East Coast. "In everything I do, I want to put Christ first," Buran says. "I just kept asking Jesus, 'How do You want to use me?' For a while, Joey Buran. The father of four that meant pastoring a church of kids under 8 rejoins surfing's elite. only 30 people and making minimum wage working room service at a hotel. But I knew Jesus was in it." But now, God's impeccable timing has brought Buran back to the beach. ''I'm just a servant filling the vessels with water," says Buran, who won the Oxbow World Master's Championship in Mexico last August. "If God wants to turn it into wine, that's His business."

idea a reality. He talked with a few of his baseball buddies to see if they would come on board. Some did, some didn't. But the two friends from different sporting worlds continued to pursue their idea. The turning point that really revved their engine came as a result of a midnight prayer. Outside a hotel in downtown St. Louis, after a Cardinals game, Bobby and Danny prayed together about their idea. "We just prayed," says Sheaffer. "If this race team is of God, then we need Him to put things together." And put things together He did-financing, equipment, personneleverything!

Danny Sheaffer. A 40o-game vetJ onty Rhodes. Jonty has played eran of MLB moves into NASCAR. field hockey for South Africa.

As the Clean Shower Racing Team lathers up a track near you this season, know that their goal is more than winning races. "We want to operate this team on Christian principles," says Hillin. Sheaffer adds, "Whether it's in the stands or in the garage, there is just such a need for Jesus in racing. And we just want to be used. We -Jeff Arnold want our team to be a witness for Christ." -Rob Bentz What do you get when you bring ~II IJWJiJI ( together major league baseball players Danny Sheaffer, Andy Benes, Gary Gaetti, and a few of their peers, combine them with a couple of Charlotte area businessmen, then add NASCAR driver Bobby Hillin to the mix? game. Two reasons may be given for his extraordinary popularity. The cleanest team in NASCAR racing, that's what! The first is his speed and agility on the field. Jonty is the most The Clean Shower Racing Team is now in its first full season on dynamic fielder in the world. He has an uncanny sense of anticipation NASCAR's Busch Grand National series. But this team didn't come to be and manages to get to balls that others would flag through. He is also overnight. As with most business ventures, plans for this race team quick, both to the ball and back on his feet and throwing. He gets rundeveloped over time. outs, but he also prevents batsmen attempting runs they would cruise "Bobby and I met at a Motor Racing Outreach conference back in 1990 against lesser fieldsmen. Judged by any standard and in any generation, or '91," explains Sheaffer. "We became friends- his family and my fami- Jonty Rhodes is a great fielder. ly-and we stayed in touch. Then in the fall of '96 we started to throw The second reason is his personality. He is bubbly- at the end of around the idea of being partners." every over he runs to the bowler to see if he can help with sweaters In the spring of 1997, Hillin- the NASCAR veteran- found himself and caps. He smiles a lot-he appears to be enjoying his cricket at aU without a ride. Sheaffer, feeling that Bobby was a solid driver who'd just times. He is hyperactive-whether batting or fielding he never seems been stuck with inferior equipment, set out to make their partnership to be still. And as everyone involved in cricket knows, he is a Christian.

. N• JWJI•



• The Swiwsky RepoJrt Could you name the last Division I college basketball Q team to have an unbeaten season? Chuck: Bob Knight's Indiana Hoosiers were loaded during the 1975-76 season. How good were they? How about four No.1 NBA picks in the starting lineup? Scott May (Chicago), Kent Benson (Indiana), Quinn Buckner (Milwaukee), and Bobby Wilkerson (Seattle). May and Benson combined to average more than 40 points and 16 rebounds for IU during their perfect season. Buckner provided the leadership and played outstanding defense. The Hoosiers beat UCLA in the semis and went on to beat Big 10 rival Michigan 86-68 in the championship game at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. The Hoosiers finished the season at 32-0.

He wears his love for Jesus and his desire to serve Him on his sleeve. As Jonty puts it, "I had always considered myself a Christian as I attended church most Sundays. However, I had no personal relationship with the living Lord, Jesus Christ. In 1990 I committed my life to the Lord, and suddenly my priorities changed. I knew that the Lord had blessed me with certain talents, not for my personal gain but rather to bring Him glory." - Stuart Weir

women's basketball caught on Q Has with the general public?

• After being named Wisconsin high school Miss Basketball and a Parade magazine AU-American in 1995, Amy Wiersma headed for the University of Wisconsin with high hopes. "Coming to play for the Badgers, I knew there were tons of expectations. But I didn't really feel the pressure. I thought I could live up to them." Badger followers expected the 6' 5" Wiersma to replace graduatAmy Wier sma. The tallest Badger ing All-Big Ten forward Barb on the Big Ten's tallest team. Franke and continue the type of play Amy exhibited at Randolph High School. Four years later, the only things Wiersma leads the team in are training room minutes and bench cheers. Hobbled by injuries (knee, hand, finger), which have cost her nearly one-fourth of her career games, Wiersma is understandably disappointed. With the weight of unfulfilled expectations bearing down on her, one would expect Wiersma to succumb to feelings of doubt and blame. "I don't doubt myself," she explains. "I just question why I'm not being able to perform and succeed on the court. It is a struggle because I know I have the ability to play well." While Wiersma may not dominate the hardwood, she has learned some hard lessons. "I have to remind myself how much I've been blessed. God has given me physical abilities, great relationships with family and friends, and the chance to get a free education," she says. "I'd be silly to blame anyone for my career when I see how many things I take for granted." For Wiersma, her most vital lesson has nothing to do with hoops. "Most of all, I've learned not to depend on outward success. I can't let how others feel about me affect me. I must focus on Christ," she says. "If I give Him 100 percent, the outside world doesn't matter. I am accepted by the one Person who does matter." -Shawn Pearson

_..Know a Champion? Send us your idea. E-mail: ssmag@sport.org Subject: Champions. Or fax: 1·616-957-5741 AITN: Sports Spectrum.

Chuck: The women got game! They are sound fundamentally, well-coached, and disciplined. The future is very bright, despite the fall of the American Basketball League (ABL). Some think this will make the sport stronger by putting all the best women in one league. Two ex-players deserve much CHUCK SWIRSKY Is the credit for the early growth of the sport. host of Sports Spectrum on Saturdays, Nancy Lieberman-eline was an All- radio noon Eastern time. Call American at Old Dominion and the 1980 1-800-653-8333 for the college player of the year. In fact, she station In your area. was so gifted she made the 1976 Don't miss it! Olympic team as an 18-year-old. An outstanding scorer and passer, Nancy now coaches the WNBA Detroit Shock. The other important Hall of Famer is Ann Meyers. Ann's brother Dave was an All-American at UCLA in the mid-70s. Ann averaged 17 points and shot 50 percent from the floor. She was signed by the Indiana Pacers in 1979, becoming the first woman to sign a contract with an NBA team. Today, superstars like Nancy and Ann come through the ranks all the time. spring training too long? Q IsChuck: There is no doubt that the spring training season ,could be shaved a good 2 weeks. The ballplayers come to spiling training in fairly good shape. They know the importance of keeping their jobs so they can maintain a lifestyle that is beyond their wildest dreams, so it's important for them to stay in shape during the offseason. To play 30 pre· ' "season games is too much. Let's play 20.

Compare playoff hockey with postseason play in the other sports. Chuck: In the NFL, it's one and out, which puts a ton of pres. sure on everyone. In the other pro sports, you have a best of 1 five or seven series, so even if a team has an off night it isn't through. I think the most pressure anyone faces in sports playoffs is faced by NHL goalies, because each goal is monumental. If a team comes into the playoffs with a shaky netminder, it's in trouble. I've seen goalies carry a team for 3 or 4 weeks and surprise people. However, a fluke goal can create tension like you wouldn't believe. A hot goalie in the Stanley Cup playoffs is a joy. 1


Send your questions to The Swirsky Report, Box 3566, Grand Rapids, Ml 49501. SPORTS SPECTRUM · MARCH 1999


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at Grace Community Church in Panorama City, California, just north of LA. The pulpit of

renowned preacher John McArthur electronically rises from the platform as he approaches and it descends as he steps down. Transition from announcements-to-prayer-to-music-to-preaching are as polished as the hand-offs of a champion relay team. The power and love of Jesus Christ flows over the congregation of several thousand, including Los Angeles Dodgers vice-president and general manager Kevin Malone, his wife, Marilyn, and children Shannon and Sean. This is a respite for the Malones-a safe haven away from the intense excitement and pressure of overseeing a major league baseball team. Here Kevin and his family are part of a larger family. Here few people quiz him about the Dodgers or ask for autographs. Here Kevin is simply another worshiper. After the service, the Malones walk from the rest of the cool, calm sanctuary into bright Southern California sunshine and

What is a man of faith like Kevin Malone doing in the deal-making business of running the Dodgers? Plenty.

By Victor Lee Photos By Jon Soohoo

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Dodger-blue skies. Panorama City is so-named because it is surrounded by mountains, presenting a breath-taking panorama. Everyone can see it, just as everyone in the world of the Los Angeles Dodgers is watching Kevin Malone to see what the new leader of one of the most storied franchises in sports history will build. The glare is no less intense than that of the sunshine. Last year media-mogul Rupert Murdoch purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers for a record-breaking, mind-boggling, market-rattling price of approx imately $350 million. A few months later he turned over the baseball operations to Kevin Malone, a 41-year-old Christian. To Murdoch, the fact that Malone is a follower of Jesus Christ was probably unimportant. To Malone, it is at the core of his being and is related to his hiring. "That shows me the sovereignty of God," Kevin says. "That shows me who is in control, and that God has a plan for each of our li ves. Every day that I wake up and realize that ! am executive vice-president and general manager of the

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Home Malone. For Kevin Malone, the most Important home team consists of his wife Marilyn and their children, Sean and Shannon. Malone cherishes time with his family on Sunday mornings at Grace Community Church. When not with his family, his attention centers on the Dodgers as he enjoys a team workout on a sunny morning at Dodger Stadium. SPORTS SPEC TRUM - MARCH 1999


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Los Angeles Dodgers, then I think God is gracious and loving. That this middle-class boy from the wrong side of the tracks in Kentucky can be in this role ... it just humbles me and makes me feel thankful. " e Day In and Day Out LIA: BORDERS ON TilEFRANTIC for Malone, but his stabilizer is Christ. A normal day? There aren't any. There are always new challenges, new problems, more agents, more media. The routine is far from routine. It changes with each season. There's the off-season, which isn't off at all. Who to sign ... who to let go. Who to offer arbitration to, who not to. What free agents to pursue (and how much to pay). What trades to make. Coaches to hire and fire from the major leagues down through the rookie leagues. Spring training brings another set of challenges, then comes the season, with different routines for road trips and home stands. " It is long hours," Malone says. "I usuall y start between 6 or 7 a.m. with prayer and time in the Word. I get ready spiritually, then I get ready physically. During the school year, I take my kid s to school , and the work day begi ns about 8:30." A phone is constantl y in one ear, whether in the car or in Malone's Dodger Stadium office. Malone goes home sometime between 6 and 7:30 p.m, in the off-season. "The earlier I'm home, the more time I have with the family," he says. " Up until the kids' bedtime, about 8:30, I' m with them. I pray with them, and then from !!round 9 until midnight I' m worki ng on the phone. It's pretty much every waking moment except for the time I try to give my family. " I've got to be available to so many people, give advice, make decisions on a lot of different things, it's all-encompassing." The categories of Malone's job can loosely be broken down into dealing with agents, personnel decisions, administration , and dealing

..,.. First choice. Kevin Malone tried to lure Felipe Alou from Montreal, but the classy skipper of the Expos decided to stay loyal to the team for whom he has worked for 23 years.

with the media. The overarching challenge is to maintain his close walk with Christ, which includes maintaining a check on the egosomething easy for any person to lose control of in light of the status afforded a major league GM. " You know what- it's all about attitude, and that 's one thing we can control," Kevin says of his day-to-day challenges. " Instead of looking at self, it's looking outward and being selfless. Then you really recognize the wonder and the majesty and the grace of God." e Dealing With Agents TH E AGENTS WANT M ALONE TO PAY MOR E. Malone wants to pay less. The Dodgers can afford to pay more than most teams, so Malone is very popular. How much to pay whom is the delicate question, and the agents are always the medium for the answers. " Agents are business people, the legal and business representatives of the player," Malone says. " I've gotten to know most of them, and most of them, I respect. A few I don't, because of their ethics and moral values professionally. But on the whole, most of them are good, solid people. When you' re dealing in moneybecause of the enormous amounts of money these players are making now- there is a negative connotation. And in some instances it is all moti vated by greed. But a lot of these guys are quality men who are just doing their job." The sticking point is always money, and the determining factors are market value (supply and demand) and talent evaluation. " I think most of th e agents know my forte is player

evaluation," Malone says. " I' m a former player, coach, and scout. I think there is a respect factor I get there. Ask them what they' re dealing with in Kevin Malone, and I think most of the time they' ll tel l you that I tell them the truth. They know it's business. You try to keep i t from being personal. The problems come when you disagree on a player's value." e Dealing With Media MALONE ISpopular with the media because he is easy to reach and speaks freely and intelligently. " I do that for three reasons: one, for the fans," he says. " I think the fans have a right to know as much about the team as possible. Two, because the members of the media have a job to do, and they are pm1 of the game. They are promoting the game. Three, I want to be an example of the love of God. I want to show these guys that I'm here to help them, and I want them to know I' m different because of Jesus Christ. "So I think nurturing and developing relationships is important. I think we should help them be the best they can be, and the more accurate information they have, the better they' ll be. " I can't tell them everyth ing, and I can' t always tell them at the time they want to, bu t I do as much as I can." Sometimes he gets burned by a media representative. " You give them the benefi t of the doubt until you learn you can't trust them," he says. " It's like any other relationship, you eventually learn enough about them to know what you can and can't do. I have to use discernment, and I seek God's help for that discernment." e Player Evaluation THIS IS MALONE'S STRENGTH. And it isn' t as easy as it looks. " It's not rotisserie baseball," Kevi n says. " You use statistics; that 's part of the equation, but it's just one piece of the puzzle. You can' t fi nd chemistry in statistics books." When considering signing or trading for a player, Malone suggests several key elements that have nothing to do with talent. " What are the player's goals? What is his make-up? How wi ll he fit in the clubhouse? In the community? All of these things are importan t. Ultimately, you ask yourself, 'What are


I .I

you willin g to pay for the producti on he brings?' It's complex, and it's not a scientific equ ati on. I rely on know ledge, skills, and insti nct- and I pray for discernment." Malone also relics on scouts, coaches, and hi s manage r's ad vice. For instance, when Malone hired Davey Johnson as manager, it meant outfielder-third baseman Bobby Bonilla had to be traded. The chemistry between the two was acidic, and Bonilla was considered a questionable influence in the clubhouse. So Malone dealt Bonilla to the Mets.

e Running

The Shovv

MALONE DOESN'T MAKE basebal l decisions onl y-he oversees a large orga ni zation. Managing people is a different challenge than evaluating talent. Malone feels better equipped to evaluate, but up to the challenge of managing. "I th ink the GM job is a very difficult job because of the di versity that is needed to be successful," he says. "A major part is relationships. I thi nk I' ve improved in that area over the years because of my relationship with God. I've become a better li stener. I have more compassion. "I'm here to develop a winning organization through developing winning people. I try to delegate responsibilities, and I try to help people be the best they can be. Because of what Christ has clone in my life, and because of the ti me I spend in prayer and in the Word, I believe I have the ability to discern the needs of people, the direction they need, the advice I should give, and all the thi ngs related tu lt:ading them. "I wouldn't ask anyone in the organization to do anything I wouldn't do, or that I haven't done. I must recognize that I'm not any more impo11ant than any other pai1 of this organization."


Living Right

INTHE MIDST OF ALLOF THOSE CHALLE 1GES, the greatest battle is to maintain a consistent fellowshi p with Jesus Christ. That is, to dai ly li ve as Christ would have Kevin live, seeking His wisdom and comfort constantly. No one does it perfectly, and Malone doesn' t dare suggest that he does. But he does have a plan. "There's only one right way to start the clay, and that's in fellowship with Him," Kevin says. "I mean time on my knees in prayer and ti me in the Word. I try to begin it with Him, though I can' t always say I' m successfu l. "Once I' ve laid the fou ndation by starting my clay that way, I don't ever feel that I get too far from His presence. In meetings, or before I do an interview, I pray. I find myself praying continuously during the clay. I believe strongly in Proverbs 3:5-6. !'T rust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."] "I can' t do this job without Chri st. I need wisdom. I need so many things that onl y He

can provide. There are so many demands on my time, and so many opportunities to make the wrong decisions and go down the wrong path. So I have to begin the day the right way, then constantly talk to Him and listen to Him throughout the day." Does it make any difference? "When I trust and depend on Him, he provides me with confidence and peace of mind," Kevin says. "I know God is sovereign, in control. I feel that He blesses me with knowledge and allows me to focus. When I look to Him, I can live in a continual state of worship and praise. I want to be in continual communion with God." Malone was hired to rebuild the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he consistentl y prays

that he will not lose focus of his true priorities. "My prayer th is morning was, 'While I'm trying to make the Dodgers the best, please don't let me get distracted from noticing those in need and actively helping them. Help me to love others in word, truth, and action.'" "I want to be an example. I want people to see Christ in me." Whether he's sitting in the comfort of his chu rch in Panorama City or on the hotseat in hi s office at Dodger Stadiu m, to Kev in Malone, the goal is the same.

Veteran sportswriter Victor Lee has been acquainted with Kevin Malone since before Malone's days as GM of the Montreal Expos.

.a. New hires. Kevin Malone made Dodgers of Devon White, Kevin Brown, and Todd Hundley.

MARKET REPORT While the anger and frustration of baseball's smaller-market clubs takes on the hue of Dodger Blue, Kevin Malone is a man in a unique juxtaposition. Alt hough he recently awarded Kevin Brown the richest contract in baseball history (7 yea rs, $105 million), Malone remembers recent years when pulling off such a deal was impossible. When he was general ma nager of the Montreal Expos, for example, Malone's first assignment was to trade away key components of a playoff-caliber tea m to save money. "I know what it's li ke to be on the other side of the fence, to be at the bottom of t he limited revenue clubs," Malone says. "And I'm not going to feel guilty or apologize for being with a large- market club that has the revenue. "I am very concerned and very sensitive to the disparity and the economic problems that exist within the game today. It's very difficult to try to balance the two. As GM of the Dodgers I am asked to put a championship team on the field. On the other hand, people wa nt me to do what is best fo r the industry." Sometimes doing both is not possible. "The problem is the system, the structure within whi ch we operate. I'm operating within the structure I was brought into." Someone was going to pay Brown that ki nd of money, regardless. Malone is building a team with the system he was given. Whether or not he likes t he system is irrelevant. Brown is one of many key moves Malon e has made in re-shaping the Dodgers. IN: Brown, manager Davey Johnson, catcher Todd Hundley, center fielder Devon White, reliever Mel Rojas, reliever Alan Mills, utility man Dave Hansen. OUT: Manager Glenn Hoffman (t hough he stays on staff), t hird baseman Bobby Bonilla, catcher Charles Johnson, outfielder Roger Cedeiio. "Ninety-eight was a very difficult yea r, a year of transition, a year of adversity," Malone says. "I believe the page has turn ed." - Victor Lee

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--------------- -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------stories. I understood a lillie about what the Bible said, but I didn't really get the whole gist of it. I stopped going to church when I got older." In 1986, while in college, Robinson represented the United States in the world basketball championships, which the US team won. Flying home from Europe, he had a lot on his mind. "I knew something was missing- ! just didn't know what it was," he explains. "I kept thinking about how up and down my life was. It seemed that every time I did something, I had to do it agai n-or do something even better. We'd start a new season, and I'd have to re-prove myself over and over again. It was never enough." A man on the plane talked to him about giving his heart to Jesus Christ. He quoted John 3: 16, which says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that who-

ever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." He asked David if he wou ld like to receive Jesus as his Savior. "I liked what he said, so I said, 'Sure!' and I prayed wit h him. But something still hadn' t clicked in my head. Nothing in my life changed. I never really read the Bible or tried to understand how my life was supposed to be. But deep clown I kept thinking, 'There's got to be more to this; there's just got to be more to this.' " It was several years later that David discovered what it was. • An Empty Dream By that time, he had made it big-he was a member of basketball's elite. Robinson had represented the United States in the Olympics in 1988, and then started his pro career by being named Rooki e of the Month ~ every month fo r the enti re ~ 1989-90 season- which made ! him the unanimous choice for ill Rookie of the Year. He played ~ in the All-Star Game, and won the NBA rebounding title. As one of the highest paid players in the NBA, he had everything mone y coul d buy- luxury homes, classic automobileshe was living a dream life. Yet he still fe lt an emptiness in side that noth ing would fill. Then in 1991 a pastor visited David in the Spurs' locker room. He told David he wanted to talk to him about Jesus. "I had some questions. I knew I needed to fi nd out more about this Chri stian stuff," David recalls. He agreed to meet wi th him. But when they got together, it was the pastor who had some tough questions for David. He bega n by as kin g, "David, do you love God?" " Yeah , sure," David replied. "Who doesn't?" "Well ," said the pastor, "God gave us His Word, the Bi ble, to show us about Himself, to teach us abo ut who He is. Do you read it?" "Well , not often," David admilled. ~

Making a point. Heading into the 1999 season, David Robinso n carried a .524 shooting percentage, having made 5,631 of his 10,748 shots.

I I I IllI IIil I\'. IIII I !I'

!! I \I !

i! I'

\I! !\1 'I ' I I I \ II !I I To David Robinson, being a good father is one of his biggest priorities. He and his wife Valerie have three sons: David Jr. 5, Corey 3, and Justin 2. Says David, "They're great little boys! We're working on discipline, teaching them how to behave, how to do what they're supposed to do, how to honor Mom and Dad. All that stuff is important. But the No. 1 thing I want to teach them is that God deserves first place in their lives!" -Christin Ditchfield


The pastor asked another question: "How much time do you spend praying-you know, talking to God? You say you love Him. Don't you enjoy talking with Him, spend ing time with Him?" David had to confess he didn't pray very much. The pastor had one more question. "In the Old Testament, God asked the nation of Israel to honor Him one day a week. When was the last time you took one day- not one day a week- just one day to praise and honor God?" "Man, I don' t think I've ever done th at!" said David. The pastor's words challenged hi m. "It made me realize that I really didn 't love God. You can say all you wnnt to say, but if your actions don't back it up, then it means nothing. I realized that dny that God had given me so much, and I had never so much as thanked Hi m. I could see His love for me, what He had done for me, how He had stood by me, and how He had been calling out to me. My heart just broke. I started crying and I said, 'God, I'm so son·y. I' ve been living like You aren' t real. I know You are. I can't ignore You anymore. I don't want to run from You. I want to walk with You, I want to learn about You, I want to know You, I want to love You.' I started reading my Bible and praying and spending time wit h Hi m and my whole world just opened up." • A Battle is Waged It's been 8 years since Robinson began seriously studying the Bible, seriously living what he said he believed. He's come a long way in his journey of faith. That journey has led Robinson to be one of the most respected Christian athletes. His name is mentioned in the same sentence with Reggie White and Michael Chang when people talk about well-known Christians in athletics. But fo r Robinson, that's not enough. He feels he still has a long way to go. There's always something more to learn. "God's really been dealing with me about being totnll y focused on Him," Robinson says.

/-- ---------------------------------------"God wants us to realize that He is our everythi ng. He is our sufficiency. We need to come to Hi m and trust Him in every situation." That can be a challenge for anyone, but especially for someone who faces the distractions and temptations of life as a professional athlete. "People look at me and thin k, 'Man , your life is so easy-you have it so good.' But I think there's a lot to be said fo r simplicity. When you don't have a lot of things, they can' t get in the way. When you do have a lot, you have a tendency to think, ' Hey, I got it under con trol today, Lord. Don' t worry about it .' That 's not what He wants. For me it's a constant battle, fighti ng my fl esh and trying to keep my priorities straight." David receives a lot of love and support from his wife Valerie. And he makes a point of attending church as often as he can. It's a part of keeping his focus. "That fellowship is really important. My pastor and I have a good relationship where we can talk and share and study the Word together. I know a few of the guys at church on a really good personal level. Being on the road a lot, I don 't have as much time to invest in those relationships, so it's a little bit more difficult for me to establish them, but it is important to me." David also draws strength from his relationships with other Christians on his team, especiall y Avery Johnson. "We spend a lot of time praying together and in the Word," says Robinson. "It's great, because I have good fellowship there every day." Avery Johnson agrees. "Over the years, our friendshi p has really grown. I'm a fiery type of guy, and he's more of a quiet leader- we each have our individual strengths. We encourage each other and hold each other accountable. Sometimes he will correct me and vice versa. It may not be in front of everybody, but pri vately we'll take each other aside."


.A. Double trouble. When Tim Duncan joined the Spurs in 1997-98, Big No. 50 gave up some of his scoring chances, dropping his scoring average to 21 .6 points a game. Duncan nearly matched that, scoring 21 .1 points each game.

David says correction is a necessary part of growth- another step in the process- but it isn' t always easy to take. "l think it's twice as hard when you're in the li melight. You know there are ti mes when God is going to deal with you about someth ing. You're going to be hurt and embarrassed and you're exposed to the whole world. You know that everythi ng you do will he part of other people's conversations. You not onl y have to deal wi th your own weak ness but everybody else's attitude toward yo ur weakness. Sometimes you want to say, 'God, can we do this in private?' But I guess it's all a part of the breaking process." • Still Grovving Robin son talks a lot about being broken ,

}:> The Robinson Zone DAVID MAURICE ROBINSON>- 7-1 >- 250 >- DOB: 8-6-65

Late-bloomer: Played just one year of high school basketball. Go figure: Majored in mathematics at the Naval Academy after getting in with an SAT score of 1,320. Navy family: His brother, Chuck, also graduated from the Naval Academy. Where in the wwworld? Look for David on the Internet at www.theadmiral.com Helping San Antone: In 1997, he donated $5 million to help San Antonio's Carver Community Cultural Center, which provides educational and recreational activities for young people.

Golf and stuff: One of his best friends is PGA golfer Corey Pavi n, for whom he has served as a caddy and after whom David and Valerie named their second child, Corey Matthew. Home team: Valerie and David have three sons, David Jr., Corey, and Justin. REWIND>- Led NBA in rebounds twice {1990-91: 1063; 1995-96: 1000) >-Led the leag ue in free throws made for 3 straig ht years {1993-1996; 693, 656, 626) >- Scored 15,940 points in fi rst 9 yea rs in the league for an average of 25.1 ppg. THE GOOD STUFF>- Was named NBA Most Valuable Player, 1995 >- Led Spurs to biggest one-season turnaround in league history (1996-97: 20-62; 1997-98: 56-26) >- Finished third in 1998 for IBM award for overall contribution to team (behind Karl Malone and Tim Duncan); Robinson won the award five times previously.

about being hum bled. He sees himself as a work in progress. " I' m lea rn ing about preparation and patience, going through trials and developi ng character," he says. Lately, Robinson's been reading the book of Exodus and looking at the life of Moses. He notes that in his prime, Moses had wealth and privilege and power-and an awfu l lot of pride. Moses tried to del iver Israel from slavery on his own, but his efforts were a miserable fai lure. It wasn't until he'd spent 40 years in the wilderness learni ng to rely completely on God that he became a man that God could use. David sees some parallels in his own life. "In many ways, I' m doing rea lly well. So many th ings arc in my favor-it seems like now is the time to do somethi ng just awesome. People are coming to me telling me what they think I should do. But God seems to say to me, 'You' re not ready yet. I haven' t put into you what I want to put in yet. Look at how I've challenged My people in My Word. Look at the thi ngs I' ve put them through. They had to have such a deep strength and fait h in Me. Your character hasn' t even begun to be tested yet. If you can' t do the littl e things, how do you expect to be able to give your life for Me? You just be faithful in the little things, day by day, year in and year out. Learn how to be focused on Me, learn how to trust Me.' "Sometimes it 's frustrat ing-there's so much I want to be able to do," Dav id adds. "I haven' t gotten to the point yet where I know exactl y where God wants me to go or what He wants me to do in the future, but I know for now the priorities He's given me. I know God wants me to be a good husband. I know He wants me to take care of my kids, and I know He wants me to be a good basketball player. Right now, that's all I know. So I' m goi ng to sti ck to those th ings until He shows me the next phase." For Moses, it took 40 years. For David, it'll undoubtedly take a lot less time. But whatever the future holds, th is big man is growing to be the man God wants hi m to be. Cflristin Ditc/ifield is a freelance writer who lives in Sarasota, Florida.

Trusting Jesus Christ with your life involves commitment to Him. David Robinson demonstrates his commitment in his desire to follow God's teaching and to live for Him. If you want to know more about how to please God with your life, write for the booklet What Does It Take To Follow Christ? Mail your request to Sports Spectrum Offer, Box 3566, Grand Rapids, MI 49501. Ask for the booklet by title and this number: 00710. SPORTS SPECTRUM - MAR CH 1999


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A group of top-notch col lege athletes who have their priorities straight


Matt Diaz


J essica Field

Becky Varnum




when he left his Lakela nd, Florida, home and headed for college. "One of my reservations was Florida State's reputation as a party school," says FSU's rightfielder. Another concern was the difference between college and high school baseball. The party stuff concerned Diaz because as a Christian, he knew it wasn't for him. Matt, who trusted Jesus Christ when he was a little boy, co mes from a famil y of 1 8


fa ith . His dad, Ed, conducts the Detroit Tigers' baseball chapel in spring training. His mom, Gwen, is a writer and contributor to Sporls Spec/rum. Early on, Matt discovered that the Florida State campus was big enough to find "good stuff to get into." He got into Fellowship of Christian Athletes, First Baptist Student Ministries, and a Monday night Bible stu dy with other members of the baseball team. "There are lots of good people

Vaughn Schill

to sur ro und yo urse lf wit h. It involves decid ing if you want the club scene or church," says Diaz, who roomed with his brother Zach, a pitcher. Matt calls rooming wi th Zach a "godsend" that kept him accountable. Then there was the question of performing at the college level in baseball. Diaz soon discovered that road games were certa inly different. "Coming out of high school where 45 min utes was a long road trip, goi ng all the way to Hawaii on my first tr ip was something," says Diaz. The trip was anythi ng but a success, as Matt started the season 0 for I0

Pat Bradley

wit h six stri keouts. For a high school star who always had a batting cage in his backyard and had never gone hitless in I0 at-bats before, this was depressing. To the resc ue came seni or Brooks Badeaux, who told Diaz, "Hey, you had a great fall practice because yo u were relaxed . This is the same game you have been playing si nce you were I0 years old." After that it was a game again and it was fun. Diaz had so much fun he was chosen The Spa rl ing News College Freshman Player of the Year after hi tting .390 and driving in 84 run s. His 22 home r ~

eclipsed the FSU freshman record ( 17) of majo r leag uers Paul Sorrento (Devil Rays) and J. D. Drew (Cardinals). Coach Mike Martin says, " What Matt acco mpli shed is absol utely mind-boggli ng, since he wasn' t projected to be the ri ghtfi elder." The sc hedul ed starter was suspended for academic eli fficult ies. After setting a regional playoff record with four homers aga inst Oklahoma, Diaz said, "The personal accolades were nice, but it was reall y neat getting to wear my Jesus is Life T- shirt on

~ ____

postga me interviews. It was a great witnessing opportunity." As a sophomore, Diaz is equipping himself for the season by reading devotional art icles on holiness, throu gh praye r, and through reading Max Lucado's book, Jirst Like Jesus. That book happens to be Coach Ma rt in 's favori te too. It's a good plan for personal growth . Coach Martin observes, "I see Matt Diaz getting better daily!" Appa rently on the fi eld and off. - Jim Crosby




Jessica Field was nervous. In fact, she was almost scared-somethin g th e 6'2" Uni versity of Arkansas volleyball player doesn't experience very often. As an allSEC, Honorable Mention AVCA All- American and Olympic development squad member, opponents no longer bother her. They rarely worry her teammates ei ther, with three SEC division titles and two NCA A tou rnament runs to their credit.

This time, however, there was no opponent in sight. She was dealing instead with dozens of inner-city kids getting off the bus for a week at a Christian athletic camp. Instead of getting the ball over the net or delivering a killer shot, Jessica wou ld be trying to get through emoti onal barriers and make a spiritual connection with these kids. "One of my biggest fears was that I couldn't connect with them," she says. "But when you' re there,

you realize God will break through any boundary. You think race or being in a sport they' re not familiar wi th will be an issue. It never is." The ex peri ence at Kanakuk Kamp ju st outside Bran so n, Missouri, was one step in a process of growing into th e person she believes God wants her to be. That process has also included Arkansas Athletes Outreach (AAO), a unique on-campus serv ice and ministry organizat ion created in 1993 to develop Razorback athletes into community role models and provide them with opportun ities for spiritual growth . Through AAO, Jessica has been a pen pal with atrisk kids, a volunteer reader, and a performer in "Champions of Character," an elementary school assembly program launched last year with teaching values as its focus. Matters of personal Christi an faith and judicious public service are ti ghtl y interwoven in Jessica's life. While sti ll in high school, she came to regard herself as someone

God might use to reach other athletes. But that scary summer camp experi ence was the beginning of a realization that God was deepening her faith and her commitment to commun ity service to enabl e her to also reach those outside the athletic arena. "There was a girl from Dallas with Attention Deficit Di sorder. She was rea l tou gh and hard," Jessica says. "I knew that I wasn't getting through to her, and I finally gave up. Then near the end of the week, she pulled me as ide and asked to pray with me. The lesson hit home. God doesn' t give up on people." People who know volleyball are predicting that Jessica Field wi ll be a candidate to play volleyball for th e US on the 2004 Olymp ic Team. But more important to Jessica is the opportunity to serve others for God. - Mike Malony and Phyllis Miller

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AS A HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN, Becky Varnum led her high school tennis team to the Colorado state championships, capturing the singles title herself. It was a pretty impressive accomplishment, but as she discovered, it brought with it some big expectations. "Everyone started saying, 'You can do it 4 years in a row!' It put a lot of pressure on me," Varn um recalls. " It was hard to look that far into the future. I tried to just put it behind me and take it one match at a time." Her strategy worked. One match at a time, Becky Varnum captured four consecuti ve state champ ionships. By the time she graduated, Varnum's match record was a phenomenal 68-0. Incredibly, in those 68 wins, she never even lost a set! Varnum was inducted into the Colorado Sportswomen Hall of Fame, and Sports Illustrated featured her in its "Faces in the Crowd" column. Still, Becky was under a lot of pressure. While she racked up records in high school , she also competed in tournaments on the

national junior tenni s circuit. There, the competition was even more intense. As she battled the top players from all over the country, Varnum tasted defeat more than a few times. Although she earned a ranking of No. 18 in the nation, she worried that it wasn't good enough. She needed a scholarship to get into college. She worried about letting her friends and family down. After one especially disappointing match, Becky was distraught. Her mom sat clown to talk with her about it. "Why are you so upset?" Mom asked. " I played awful!" Becky answered. "I've worked so hard and nothing's coming through for me, and ! lost this terrible match!" Her mother asked her, "Becky, who are you playing for?" Bec ky stopped to consider. "Well, I' m playing for my coach, because he's put a lot of time into me, and I'm play ing for myself, because I need to go to college, and ..." Her mom interrupted her. "You've got it all backward!" she

and I think that's the biggest thing good competitors can do: learn from their mistakes and their losses." On the clown days, Var nu m draws encouragement from reading the Psalms. She also enjoys attending the Bible stud y that meets in her dorm each week. "We read the Scriptures together. We talk to each other about the di fficulties we' re having and try to help each other out, and we pray for each other. It's really neat!" In the midst of all the pressure, Becky Varnum has found a place of peace. -Christin Ditclifield

said. "You need to be playing for the glory of God." To Becky it was a revelation, and a relief-a simple truth she had somehow lost sight of. "I realized then that I didn' t have to worry all the time about letting everyone down. It didn't let God clown when I lost. He's always with me. That talk with my mom was a really big inspiration to me." With renewed focus and determination, Becky has begun taking on the challenges of college tennis. In her first year at Notre Dame, she's wi nning-and losi ng-and fine tuning her game. "I've learned a lot! I' m really working on things,

~ VAUGHN ____ D U K E



HE LETTERED INSOCCER. He played shortstop and pitched at his high school in an East Coast state. He received multi ple honors for his athletic prowess. Vau ghn Sc hill ? Sure, that describes him. But it also describes a player the jun ior Duke shortstop has long modeled his game after. A guy named Cal Ripken Jr. And there' s another thing that's simil ar between the future draft

pick and the future Hall of Famer. Both know how important it is to conduct oneself properly. For the duration of his remarkable career, Cal Ripken has been a model of gentlemanly behavior in a sport that has had its share of bad boys. For Schill, presenting himself with class and dignity while avoiding going anywhere that will compromise his Christian values is absolutely vi tal-even on a college campus that' s seen a party or two.

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It's far too early to begin comparing Schi ll's baseball exploits wi th Ripken's, but if Vaughn 's success so far is any indication, that possibility may someday arise. The 21-year-old Schill has already accumulated so much hardware he could start his own trophy shop. Last summer he was named to the Baseball America Summer All-Star team after hitting .367 with 14 home runs in the presti gious Cape Cod League. In 1997, his first year at Duke, he was named a Freshman All-American, was the top freshman in the ACC, and was Duke's MVP. And that's just the abbreviated list of his honors. Drafted in the ninth round by the Florida Marlins after he graduated from Audubon High School in New Jersey, Schill opted to take his skills to Durham. After completing his third year at Duke this spring, he will agai n be eligible to be drafted. What will a major league team get in Vaughn Schill? It will get a 6' 2", 170-pound shortstop who has worked hard to prepare himself for the next level. "I know I can't be perfect, but I strive to be," he says with a confidence that has been earned through effort, determination, and a drive to succeed. "I want to be flaw less in all areas of my game." The team that drafts Schill will also get a young man who will combine remarkable skills with beyond-his-years maturit y. "I know how to deal with situations," he says. "I had great parents who brought me up to be an adult in how I handled things." Those parents, Don and Rita, also taught him the importance of faith. When Vaughn was 4 years old, he put his faith路 in Jesus Christ. Seventeen years later, he knows that chi ld hood decis ion was real. " I' ve never had any doubt," he says. "And through the things I've experienced, I know I'm leading the li fe God has planned for me." He's confident, he stays out of trouble, and he can hit with the best of them. Time will tell if the rest of Vaughn Schill's career continues to mirror Cal Ripken's. - Dave Branon



____ R R K R N 5 R 5 8 R 5 K E T 8 R L L

THE ASSIGNMENT: Write about a hot-shooting, long-ra nge gunner who plays for Nolan Richardson's Arkansas Razorbacks. Simple enough. Do some research, get an interview, talk wi th a few fo lks who know the young man, and write the piece. But the moment I spoke with Razorbacks' seni or guard Pat Bradley, I knew the article was going to be different from what I had anticipated. Because Pat plays ball in the heart of the South, in Fayetteville,

Arkansas, I assu med he would answer my questions with a pleasant southern accent. Nope. This Arkansas basketball star comes from none other than Everett , Massac hu setts-a long threepointer north of Boston and a cozy 25-hortr dri ve from the Home of the Hogs. " It 's extremely different, " Bradley says of life in Fayetteville. "Everything from the food, to the peopl e, to the amo unt of pickup trucks-it's just a totally dif-

ferent world. It 's fun! " If a Bostonian playing basketball in Arkansas isn't odd enough, then consider Pat Bradley 's lifestyle. It's hardly the stereotypical college senior's existence. Instead of leading the party brigade, Bradley encourages his basketball teammates to look somewhere else for fulfillment. "He's been influential in getting other hoopers to Bible study," explai ns Ron Harris, men' s campus director of Arkansas Athlete Outreach. "He's making an impact." Pat encourages the study of God's Word because that's where he's found peace and happiness. "I want to plant a little seed and give [my teammates] something to help them along the way," says Bradley. "I want to influence their lives." While most seniors are charting their course for life on their own, moving even further away from any parental ties, Bradley remains close with his parents. "My mom emphasized that an important part of our [Pat's and his brother's] li ves was our relationship with the Lord," explains Pat. "Even when it looked bleak, when my brother and I were in high school and we were sleeping in and then coming to church late, she kept praying for us. Now my brother has developed a strong relationship with the Lord, and so have I. "I appreciate the things my parents did for me. I look to them for as much advice as I can." Bradley's different from most seniors on the court too. He's been Arkansas' leading scorer for two seasons, and he recentl y set the Southeastern Conference record for career 3-pointers. With that kin d of success at a Top 25 Division I program, you might ex pect he' d be cocky about hi s shot at an NBA career. Not so. "If you can make a living playing ball ," Bradley says with a chuckle, "that's gotta be one of the greatest jobs to have. So, I'm gonna try. I'm believing in the Lord for the way He wants me to go. He's not going to push me in the wrong direction." - Rob Bentz SPORTS SPECTRUM - MARCH 1999

2 1

r--------------------------------------- ---------------- ----------------------------- ------------------------------

On the way to


nat ional

championship athletic program is different. You recognize it when you call the sports

becoming an NAIR

information director to set up an interview with the head coach of a basketball team that just last spring won the national championship-and the SID says, "Oh, yeah,

champion coach

Mike Lightfoot has

here's his number. Give him a call."

It probably doesn't happen that way just

Detroi t is Hockeytown, thi s mu st be

the Pilots hoopsters have brought fi ve natio nal champi onships back to Mi shawaka. • 1992 National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Division I title. • 1993 NCCAA Division I title • 1995 Natio nal Assoc iation of Int ercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II title • 1997 NA IA Division II title • 1998 NAIA Division II title The archi tect of this success is that man who is just a phone call away. Mike Lightfoot, Bethel grad, dedicated dad, and incredibly glad he is where he is.

Cham pionsh ip Ca mpu s. The Bethe l

Breaks of the Game

College Pilots athletic program has cap-

ALLTI·IIS SUCCESS is the resul t of a broken ank le. Not the broken ankle he suffered last summer while playing pickup ball in the gym. No, that happened because the former player at tin y LaVille High School and Hall of Fame hoopster fo r Bethel j ust can't seem to get enough of the game he's been playing since his older

down the road at Notre Dame, another school that has won its share of national

brightened a lot

titles. Yet within a hangg lider's journey from the golden dome of the Fighting Irish is a school that is keeping the Nort hern Indiana banner industry in business.

of lives

Bethel College, student pop ulati on: I,600. If Gree n Bay is Titletown and


tured at least I 0 nati onal titles in soft-

By Dave Branon

ba ll, basketball , and base ball over the past decade. Yet it' s the success of the basketball

Photos by Brian Spurlock

team that stands out. In the past 7 years,


MAR CH 1999

2 3




sister used to school him in the backyard. The broken ankle that changed everything for Lightfoot happened back in the mid-70s when he was a freshman player at Tri-State Uni versity in Angola, Indiana. "That was the turnin g point in my li fe spiri tuall y," says Coach Lightfoot, who must smile more than any other head coach in the land. "I had always put basketball first and God second," he says. But when he got hurt and couldn't play ball fo r a while, he began to evaluate the importance of his faith in Christ. "1 looked at my life and said, 'Lord, I'm gonna turn this over to You.' I made a commitment to put Jesus first in my life." The first thing that changed fo r Lightfoot was that he transferred mid-year from Angola, a private, nonreligious school, to Bethel, a Christian college. Going to Angola, Lightfoot says now in reflection, was "my own decision rather than allowing God to be in on the decision. But getting to Bethel allowed me to be nourished, to develop, and to grow as a Christian." It also allowed him to get acquainted with a coach who continues to be his mentor, friend, and role model. During Lightfoot's junior year at Bethel, a new coach came In lead the Pilots. He was a young protege of Dale Brown 's at LSU-an unknown by the name of Homer Drew. It was Drew 's first year of what has become a di stin gui shed 23-year coachin g career at Bethel, at Indiana-South Bend, and most notably, at Valparaiso Uni versity. For Lightfoot, it was timing at its best. The two have been fri ends ever s ince, and Lightfoot has learned innumerab le lessons from his former coach- both about life and

about basketball. Drew stayed at Bethel for II years before moving on. In the meantime, Lightfoot graduated and cut his coaching teeth at the high school level. He began as the freshman coach at Mishawaka Marian, where he established a program that had known nothing but losing in the years previous. Nine years after he graduated from Bethel, Lightfoot was asked to return when Coach Drew left for IU-South Bend . That was in 1987. Since then, Bethel has won more th an 350 games- never once having fewer than 24 victories in a season. And, of course, those national championship banners hang all over the place at Bethel's new home court in the Wiekamp Athletic Center.

Making The Man You CAN LEARN A LOT about someone by looking at whom he admires. For Lightfoot, of course, there' s Drew. Yet it's not the Xs and Os th at stand out as lesso ns from Homer. Instead, it's famil y. "The mos t important impact Homer had on me," Lightfoot says, "is his relat ionship with his sons, Scoll and Bryce. I had the opportunity to watch them grow up and see the rel ationship they had with their fa th er. The thing that was great was how important those boys were to him ." And now Lightfoot is in the midst of raising his own two sons, Robbie, an eighth-grader, and Ryn e (named after Cubs in fielder Ry ne .&. All Hoosiers, all the time. Fielding a roster

made up totally of athletes from Indiana, Mike Lightfoot has created a national power. In the Pilots' first 20 games of the 1998-99 season, they scored more than 100 points 13 times on the way to an 18-2 mark . ..,.. Sophomore Andy Ganger scores two of Bethel 's 103 points in a 103-86 win over Indiana University at South Bend.

Sandberg), a fifth-grader. "I want to see them grow up to be outstanding Christian men. I want them to know how important they are. If they can grow up to be like Scoll and Bryce Drew, I'm gonna be a happy father." During the 1997-98 school year, Mike and his wife Jackie did something they think wi ll help ensure that their sons turn out well. They took what Mike calls "A Jubilee Year." Sensing that their boys were gelling to the age where the parent-child rat race was about to reach the starting line, Mike and Jackie made the radical decision to keep the boys out of every outside activity for a year. No organized sports. No going to school (they homeschooled that year). Nothing but being with Mom and Dad . That meant the fami ly went with Dad to all things ba ketball during the 1997-98 championshi p season. The boys had free rei gn at prac tice. They were at all the games. They even accompanied the team to the NAIA finals in Idaho. It was a concept Mike learned from Coach Drew, and he feels that it was a great family builder. There was another influ ence on Mike Lightfoot-another man from Indiana. In the laud of the Il oos iers, yo u can't throw a bounce pass without hitting a basketball hero. Several years ago, when Mike was allending a coaching clinic, he happened to sit at a table with legendary coach Joh n Wooden. Hu bie Brown was the clinician, and he was writing important basketball concepts on the chalkboard. Lightfoot looked over at Wooden, who by then had retired as the greatest coach in college basketball history. Wooden was vigor-


Saving Pilot Ryan ously taking notes on everything Brown said. "That reall y had an impact on my life," Lightfoot says. "It showed me you can always learn . That influenced me to read Wooden's books and learn from him."

Controlled Intensity MIKE LIGHTFOOT HAS LEARNED from Drew and Wooden, two masters, but he is his own man. His on-the-court style is intense yet under control. He doesn't sit qu ietly with a rolled-up program, yet he's not about to emulate still another Indiana icon by tossing furnitu re. Lightfoot's team is a well-oiled machine that contests every pass and cuts off every passing lane with a smothering matchup defense. On offense, the Pilots push the ball up court, pass it with confidence, and always seem to find the best shot. One indication of that fact is this: In each of the three NA IA championships, Lightfoot's teams have won on buzzer-beating, game-winning shots from the hands of a senior. In one ga me earli er thi s season, Coach Lightfoot demonstrated the discipline he so prizes. Calmly shouting one-word instructions to his players, he clearly focused on his strategy and game action. If instructions had to go to the players on the floor, they were conveyed with hand signals or with a word to one player, who then passed the message to the other four. Each time, there was no confusion as the team changed offense or defense. The referees were not the focus of his attention. At times, one would wonder if he even knew they we re out there, so little did he watch them. To be honest, he did say one word to one official when a questi onable blocking

The similarities between Ryan Bales and Mike Lightfoot are astounding. Both started out at a different college before transferring to Bethel College. Both knew before they went to college that they wanted to coach basketball. Both made dramatic spiritual decisions while in college. Sometimes, though, they aren't always on the same page. Like the game against Kendall College of Chicago during the 1997-98 season. "I wasn't playing particularly well," Bales admits. "My head wasn't into it. There was a timeout, and I was the focus of the whole timeout. He was all over me, which is right because I wasn't playing well." Good coaches make the best of such situations, and Lightfoot did just that. "The next day I went to talk to him," says Bales. "He used this as a learning experience. He really taught me discipline, and he also showed me he cared for me. He was asking me how I was doing, and he told me he just wanted me to be a better player." The best lesson Bales learned from his coach, though, was spiritual. "When I came here, I was not a Christian," he says. "Before every practice, Coach would give us a little talk. His messages meant a lot because I know the type of person he is." At the end of Ryan's sophomore year, the team was in Idaho for the NAIA national championship. "Coach gave an awesome devotional, and I decided to acce pt Christ out there at the tournament." Last summer, Ryan traveled with Athletes in Action on a basketball evangelism tour of Africa . Add an interest in using sports as a ministry to the similarities between Coach Lightfoot and his point guard. - Dave Branon

call was made. "Blocking?" he asked, quietly and quizzically. A couple of minutes later, he felt compelled to say something else. One of his players was dribbling up the sidelines when he was whistled for stepping out of bounds. Smiling and without fanfare, he turned to the referee and said with sincerity, "Good call." The two 1998-99 Bethel Pilots who know Mike Lightfoot best are his two senior guards, Michael Edison and Ryan Bales-the team's onl y graduati ng players. Edison knows hoops also, since his dad, Jack, is the head coach at Pl ymouth High School, where former NBA player Sco tt Ski les wa s Mr. Basketball. Michae l himself was runnerup for the award his senior year. Of Lightfoot, Michael says, "He's a good Christi an role model. He has lots of wisdom. I' ve noticed that about him and my dad. They both have a lot of wisdom."

Hoops and Beyond LIGHTFOOT ALSO liAS A HEART FOR MINISTRY. In fact, he says that although his success has led to his receiving inquiries from bigger schools that want him to work his wonders for them, "I feel that this is my ministry. I think I have a tremendous opportunit y here that maybe at other places I wouldn ' t have." For now, or

until he and Jackie feel God's call to go somewhere else, they arc staying. That's because of guys like Bales, Edison's backcourt partner. During Ryan 's sophomore season, Lightfoot had the privilege of leading his point guard from North Judson, Indiana, to faith in Jesus Christ (see sidebar). At Bethel, not all incoming students must testify that they have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior before they enroll. For Lightfoot, this is a plus. "This becomes a great opportunity for me to be a wit ness and to share with my players the claims of Christ." For a player like Bales, it was just what he needed. Year after year, Mike Lightfoot brings a winner to the small campus of Bethel College. His open and fri endly personalit y helps win the hearts of prospecti ve players. His clear concept of what his team needs to do ensures victories. And his love for his Lord Jesus Christ gives purpose and value to what he is doing. Indeed there's something different going on at Championshi p Campus. Someth ing that is sparked by an accessible, affable coach who has ti me for everyone, who won't accept anything but the best, and who is fiercely loyal to the school that gave him a chance. Nobody deserves those championship banners more than Mike Lightfoot. SPORTS SPECTRUM - MARCH 1999

2 5

THE BLUE BLOOD running in Cameron Mills ' veins comes from hearty stock: his fatheJ; Teny, was a member of the University of Kentucky's 1970 NCAA championship team. Although Cameron graduated after helping UK capture the 1998 title, as team chaplain he still maintains close ties with the Wildcats. Here he describes what makes second-year Coach Orlando "Tubby" Smith a wim1e1:

Former UK guard and current team chaplain Cameron Mills talks about what he is learning from his coach, Tubby Smith

By Cameron Mills With Ken Walker



• MARC H MADNESS HAS RETURNED. Nailbiting action and excitement. The season's losses are irrelevant. It's time to peak and play the season's best basketball. In a nutshell, that's why the Uni versi ty of Kentucky won its sevent h national championship in 1998. When the chips were down, Tubby Smith succeeded in getting us to thinkand execute-the right way. He orchestrated the string of unexpected victories that earned us the nickname, "Comeback Cats." But you can't isolate what UK accomplished to the last three ga mes of 1998, when we chopped down deficits to take the regional finals and the Final Four. We came back all year. Under Rick Pitino we won a lot of games by 30 points. But last year we didn' t have the talent to blow teams out. That was shown by our three midseason losses at home. The defeats had many fans screaming for Coach's hide. Even Coach Smith joked he wanted to call his radio show to bark, "You bum!" Yet he never lost fa ith , patiently teaching us to get better every game. In the end he proved the critics wrong. Many fans like to hear about X's and O's and strategies masterminded by a bri lliant coach. You have to look beyond that to understand Tubby's success stems from his humility. He has every reason to boast and remain aloof. In 7 years he went from being a UK assistant to being one of the nation's premier head coaches. In his first try, he led us to the championshi p. His awards range from "Coach of the Year" to "Parent of the Year."

Instead, he is friendly and down to earth. In early January in Nashville, he took time to thank the servers of the team's pre-game meal before UK played Vanderbilt. That's in keeping with the servant-like character he showed after ret urning to Lexington in mid-1997. With in three months he knew the name of every athletic department member and support staffer. He knew what each person did. In the hall way, he made a point of stopping to shake their hands. This is the kind of small gesture people never see. Also, he's willing to ask for others' opinions. He knows he doesn't have all the answers and isn't afraid to admit it. He'll ask me to observe players having shooting troubles. After three players got in hot water last year, he asked for my input on disciplinary measures. Not that I determined what happened, but he wanted my ideas. Tubby isn't perfect. He can lose his temper. People talk constantly about how his eyes look like they'll pop out of the sockets when he's upset. He' s very level-headed, but occasionally he'll get agitated and blow up. Still, that isn't necessarily negative. Temper can be a great motivator. Players think, "Coach is upset. We need to do everything we can to not upset him or we' re going to be running suicide sprints after practice." The great thing about Tubby is he doesn' t cling to a ti rade. Last winter we lost to Ole Miss at home. Afterwards he ranted and raved. We deserved it for our lack of solid effort that afternoon. That even in g my alma mater,

~ -------------------------------------------- -- -------------------------------------------------- -- --------- -- -----·

.,.. Joy in Tubville. Cameron Mills and Steve Masiello say, "Remember the Alamodome" as they enjoy their first moments as national champions after Kentucky beat Utah.

Dunbar High School, was retiring my jersey. Dunbar officials had invited Coach Smith, but after that kind of loss I didn't expect to see him. Thirty minutes before the ceremony, he walked in the door. We went up to the hospitality room, and he chatted with everyone so cheerfully you would have thought we won by 50 points. That meant the world to me. This is what drives his players. They're thinking, "We better wi n because we love this guy and respect him so much we don't want to let him down." Pressure-Packed To appreciate the calm that surrounds Tubby's

program, you have to grasp the importance of basketball in the Bluegrass State. "Hoosiers" may have made Indiana famo us, but just as many hoops decorate barns and makeshift courts along Kentucky's country roads. Last October's preseason media briefing attracted about 70 reporters. Nine TV cameras were rolling, with a dozen tape recorders spread out on the table in front of Tubby. By compari· son, there are only 48 seats in the daily press briefing room at the White House. Coach Smith recalled what a whirlwind the offseason had been and talked of trying to be accessible by signing autographs. But he said that if he granted every request, he'd never be able to leave Rupp Arena after a game. Saul Smith talks about what an outstanding

coach his father is: "Anyone can deal with winning, but those 3-4 losses you're going to take over the course of the year? You've got to be a great man to deal with those." Three or four? Some teams would be pleased with that many conference defeats. But that's the kind of yardstick that measures UK fans' expectations. Add to that the pressure of being the school's first African-American head coach. The prospect so unnerved one Lexington newspaper columnist that she advised him not to accept the job. Granted, he has encountered racists who make dumb comments like, "We shouldn't have a black coach." But he has responded with poise. He doesn't let complaints bother him. One of the most ludicrous statements he faced concerned his alleged favoritism for playing Saul. If anyone had the right to complain, it was me. Saul took a lot of my playing time last year. But I never said a word. He deserved every minute because he's good. I think Tubby's primary struggle comes in facing intense criticism for losses. Most fans won't blame players, because they're kids. So they heap abuse on the coach. Win or lose, he knows there's going to be others who disagree with him. He shrugs it off and moves on. I wish I could be more like that. One reporter remarked to me how peaceful last fall's press briefing seemed. That's the same atmosphere peopl e who work at Memorial Coliseum (home of the basketball offices) notice daily. There's no stress or tension. As much as I enjoyed Coach Pitino, I had more fun playing for Tubby last year. If someone told a joke, made a sill y remark or fell down, I felt free to laugh about it without wondering if I'd get in trouble. Pitino could be deadly serious. While I have enormous respect for Coach Smith, he's also the kind of guy you can kid around with. Toward the end of last season I joked that as soon as I graduated I was going to call him "Smitty." Every so often I'll do that. He smiles and gets a laugh out of it. In spite of his gregarious nature, he also retains a quality of shyness. Everyone knows about his childhood, growing up in a family of 17 children on a farm in Maryland. But he never refers to childhood lessons as part of his coaching instruction. Until we met them at the White House last summer, I didn't know his parents were still alive. He's very reticent to talk about himself. He freely passes out credit to his players and assistant coaches instead of bragging about his hard work. He's content with the gifts God has given him and happy to be where he is. ..... "Tubby Ball." Depending on fast breaks, pressure defense, and the long bomb, Tubby Smith earned for himself the National Coach of the Year Award in 1998. SPOR TS SPECTRUM • MARCH 1999

2 7


------ -------------------------------- --------------------------

.A Kentucky

Man of Faith

Comebacks. Rated fifth in the country before the 1998 tournament, Tubby Smith's Wildcats had to claw back from halftime deficits in their final three games of the tournament. First, down to Duke by 18 at the half and by 17 with just 10 minutes left, the 'Cats stormed back to win 86-84. Against Stanford, the Tubsters were 5 points on the bad side at halftime before sneaking out with a semifinal win 86-85. And against Utah in the Finals, Smith's men spotted the Utes 10 points at the intermission yet won 78-69.

Tubb y and I have never explicitly di sc ussed hi s belief in Chri st. But everything he does shows that he is a man of God. During preseason my final year, he brought in two former players from Virginia to talk about the gospel. They put it on the line and said, "You either believe it or you don't." That made us all think, even Christians like Jeff Sheppard and me. That set the tone for the season. So did things like having us write out our goals for the year, including our spiritual aspirations. He keeps a well-worn Bible on his desk. It's not there for show. It's worn out because he's using it all the time. I'm a little more open about my beliefs. Not long after he arrived, 1 said to him, "I sign my autograph with a Bible verse, and I'm an outspoken Christian. I tell people about Jesus; I'm not ashamed of it. I wear Christian Tshirts. Is that a problem?" After looking at me like I had four eyes, he said, "I think that's admirable. Go for it." Then he added, "As for me, I have to be careful, this being a state institution." Of course, he' s not completely silent. When he finishes dressing down players after a game for their mistakes, he gath-

ers them around to say the Lord 's Prayer. He knows there's something more important than winning and losing basketball games. If it's a Saturday, he'll often tell them, "All right, fellas, I expect every single one of you to be in church tomorrow. Don't let me find out you didn' t go to church." I love that. It's cool to have a coach who's like a father. On occasion, Tubby has taken several players to church with him. He's also put part of the burden on me, as chaplain, to take them to church, which is a good responsibility in my new role. Since he became UK's head coach, l see guys on the team asking more questions about God and spiritual matters. And I feel more freedom. When he asked me to serve as chaplain this season, Tubby told me, "I want you to take 'em out to lunch, get to know 'em, hang around 'em, be a good influence on 'em. I want them to ask you questions." That speaks volumes. The players have responded. I've had several players call me recently to ask questions about my faith in Christ. If they get in trouble, I want to be the first one they call. If they need someone to pray for them or a friend to confide in, I want to be there. None of this would be possible without Tubby's leadership. Alt hough our re lationship has changed from a player-coach type to more of a friendship, I still think of Smith as a father figure. Now, I have a great relationship with my dad. But when I moved on campus and spent so much time in practice, film room, classes, and study halls, I didn't have much time to see him or Mom. Tubby became an on-campus father, just as he is to all the players. He knows what music they listen to, shows they watch, and if they're having problems. Combine that with his intensity after tip-off, and you can understand why UK will again be part of the title race. Last season I wrote a "9" on the locker room blackboard before we started the SEC tourney. Each time after that I wrote one number lower, until! marked a " I" before the Utah game. There's no telling whether someone else will have that honor this year. But with Coach Smith calling the shots, I wouldn't discount the possibility.

An integral part of UK's past three Final Four teams, Cameron Mills is a ful/time evangelist. Ken Walker is a freelance writerfrom Louisville.

Educating Cameron So dedicated to Kentucky basketball that he turned down a scholarship offer at another school to walk on in Lexington, Cameron Mills eventually earned a stipend and acclaim for his three-point shooting. But he converts different goals now. Entering full-time evangelism last June, he encourages audiences to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Although his popularity boost from last year's NCAA title has faded, by early January he was booked steadily through the end of November. Some dates are set for 2000. Cameron Mills Ministries doesn't keep a tally of numbers, but they know hundreds have answered his call to ask the Lord into their heart. One night more than 40 responded. Especially encouraging was the night a mother and her daughter stepped to the front. Helping him prepare for his postcollege career wasn't part of Tubby Smith's job description. But Mills says the coach set an inspiring example. "He came out to every practice excited and ready to go," says Ca meron. "Someti mes as much as I speak, I get tired of the grind. I think, 'Here comes another one.' "In learning from him, I know it's a different day. It's different people and they need to know this. They've got to hear the truth." -Ken Walker Cameron Mills Ministries: 1-606-224-3427 or e-mail: cmm21 @prodigy.net


.A Sharp shooter. In the '98 title game, Cameron Mills was 2 for 4 from threepoint range and 2 for 2 from the line.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------28 SPORTS SP ECT RUM - MARCH 1999


~ B~ Trac~

Hanson with Roxanne Robbins

A lifelong process has taught LPGA golfer Tracy Hanson the value of friends lmost anyone you meet is a potential friend. The people you choose to spend the majority of your time with, though, should be people who lift you up. You should select friends who encourage you to stay true to your beliefs, and you should avoid close friendships with people who tempt you to do things that are wrong. Your friends don't have to agree with you all the time, but they should support you and your values. It is also important to be around people who help you grow in positive ways. When I attended high school in northern Idaho, athletics largely determined with whom I spent time. I tended to hang out with friends who participated in the same sports: golf, basketball, or skiing. During the summers I spent a lot of time playing and practicing golf, plus traveling to junior golf events with my family. So I didn't have much time to spend with friends. But I wasn't the type who spent a lot of time with friends anyway. I was shy and pretty much did my own thing around athletics. That was my personality. Eventually, things began to change. Just before I left for college at San Jose State, I met a new friend who changed my life. God, who created me, gave me a relationship and friendship with His Son Jesus Christ. At first I didn't understand what my new Christian faith meant. And I didn't have many people around me to help me learn more about it. But after a year at San Jose State, I met some peop~e through two campus ministries. Those friends encouraged me in the faith that was developing in my life. Because I had never been into partying, I did not have those types of problems to come away from. But my activities still changed. Instead of spending time only with other athletes, I began to develop friendships with people who desired to study the Bible and engage in Christian fellowship. I got involved with

Athletes in Action and Campus Crusade for Christ. I found that the people I met through those organizations loved me for who I was. It didn't matter if I was shy or outgoing, and my athletics were not the main attraction. They cared about me as a person and not because I was a golfer. I learned the value of Christian people who lifted me up and encouraged me even after I made mistakes. It was helpful also to meet some older mentors who guided me through some of life's difficult lessons . During those years, I learned how to communicate better with people because of the friends who patiently encouraged me to express myself during Bible studies and smallgroup gatherings. Now that I'm on the LPGA Tour, my friends are still very important, but they're scattered all around. Except for the occasional times we're in the same place, we have to develop our relationships through e-mail, over the phone, or through letters. Fortunately, on the LPGA Tour I am able to get together with other Christian women. We ~

Fifth-year pro. In 1998, Tracy Hanson finished 54th on the LPGA money list. Her best year was '96, with a 33rd place finish.

meet weekly for Bible study, fellowship, and prayer. This was especially meaningful this past year when my mother died. I was so grateful for friends, who let me go through the grieving process at my own pace and who were there for me when I just needed to cry. They supported me at the funeral and at the height of everything going on. My close friends continue to help me remember the special memories of my mom. They encourage me to stay strong in the Lord and to experience His grace and comfort in difficult times. My friends helped give me the confidence to get back on the Tour and to believe in my abil-

ities as a golfer again after experiencing the pain of my mother's death. College friends and my friends on the Tour have walked with me through the hard and fun times in life. But most important, they've helped me grow in my Christian faith. This faith has taught me that my worth is from Jesus-and only Him-not from how I perform on the golf course. Because of the ups and downs of performance, recognizing the source of my true value has helped stabilize my emotions. Faith has also given me a bigger perspective of what life is all about. It's not just about golf and what I do on the golf course. It's about relating with Christ and with people.

Roxanne Robbins lives in Cincinnati and works for Athletes In Action.

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~egends ~ 8~

man is known by his words •. . The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). . .. and his actions. When you talk with former NHL right-winger Jean Pronovost, he drops the gloves, extends his hand to greet you, and opens his heart so you can know him. He is vulnerable. ''I'm not perfect. I've done bad things in my life and I'm not proud of them." He is refreshingly honest about his sport. "It's not about tradition anymore, it's the money. 'Where can I make the most money [to play in the NHL)?' It's like the ground when the rain falls; it never has enough." He's real. To explain his genuine way, you must get to know a little about Diane, his wife of 31 years. Back when Jean was playing for the Atlanta Flames in the NHL, Diane received Jesus Christ as her personal Savior. A transformation took place in her life. Jean watched her. He listened to her. Finally, he began reading the Bible for himself. As time passed, Diane's words and actions deeply touched his heart. God's Word, the Bible, penetrated his soul. On the day Jean received Jesus Christ as His Savior, he says, "New hope and joy came into my life." Over the years, Jean has experienced the checks and line changes that life presents. It hasn't been all smooth ice . "I ..,... Penguin point man. In his 11year career with Pittsburgh, Jean Pronovost tallied 316 goals, third all-time in Pens' history behind Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.

3 0


understand what Hebrews 12:1 is saying ..." Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. ". .. because when you come out of a background like mine-r became a Christian at the age of 33-you have a lot of skeletons in your closet. It's so easy to go back to them." Recognizing that sin is often pleasurable-but has devastating consequences-Jean has learned valuable lessons from his failures. "I think the key to keeping a close walk with Christ is accountability. You need to be accountable to someone, to your spouse or a close friend. If you're not account-

Tom Felten

able, it's too easy to brush sin Stats Glance under the rug." Jean loves to coach. One thing • Played 14NHL seasons for three teamsPittsburgh, Atlanta, Washington he passes on to his players is the importance of accountability. • Scored 391 goals and amassed 383 assists in 998 regular season games He's been a coach for many teams, • At the start of a game in 1976, scored a goal in including McGill University in 6 seconds! (Tied for second fastest all-time) Montreal for 6lj2 years, the Shawinigan Cataractes in the Coolest Players on Ice Quebec Maj or Junior Hockey Here's apartial list of the players Jean Pronovost League (QMJHL), and the Quebec respects for their talent-from his days on the ice, Rafales in the International to today: Hockey League. Currently, he is "Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, andBobby Hull always head coach of the Rouyn- showed some real class on and off the ice. Today, Noranda Huskies in the QMJHL. Wayne Gretzky-by far-and Mario Lemieux are "I appreciate working with two entertaining players, but I like Steve Yzerman, young people," Jean says, "and Sergei Federov, and Marl< Messier as well." the contribution you can make in shaping and challenging them." Over the years he has played positive changes in eu 1ves, alongside and coached all kinds and he has seen some choose to of players with varied personali- sink deeper into darkness. Two former NHL premier playties. He has seen people make ers, Mike Gartner and Ryan Walter, both received Christ as Savior after hearing the salvation message from Jean. He presented God's plan for salvation to them shortly after coming to know Christ himself. Gartner's and Walter's lives have been marked by a consistent, clear, testimony to God's grace. But sometimes people struggle. "If you're addicted to sex, if you're addicted to drugs, or if you're addicted to alcohol, you need help," Jean says. He says that the only true hope for recovery from addiction is relying on God, not self. That's why he thinks being accountable is so important. It helps people receive the support, rebukes, and refining they need. This coach desires that the young men he works with see in him and hear from him the truth that will provide them a plan for life. "I have a passion for coaching . I'm a teacher who helps young people realize their dreams," he says . Dreams made real by the power of a loving God.

c.- Comments? tfelten@rbc.org

Airing It

Out ~

Bq Rob Bentz

f anyone was born to play middle linebacker, it was Chris Spielman. He's the prototype. He epitomizes everything a linebacker should be- tough, strong, smart, and intense. Any young man who aspires to play middle linebacker one day has quite a reputation to live up to. Middle linebackers are guys who'd just as soon tackle you as carry on a conversation with you. They growl, groan, and make mysterious noises for no apparent reason. They're men whose very lives are defined by the number of tackles they made in last week's game. Chris Spielman is like that-with one huge exception. An AU-American in high school, Spielman was selected by Parade magazine as the top prep linebacker in the country. His high school, Washington High in Massillon, Ohio, is known as a football-player factory. But even WHS wasn't accustomed to the kind of attention Spielman attracted. Spielman was so impressive that a certain cereal company wanted his young mug on the cover of its box. That's right, this linebacker prodigy was on a Wheaties box before he ever strapped on a college football helmet!

His success continued as he reached the next level. Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State played home to Spielman's seek-anddestroy style football for the next 4 years. He so dominated the collegiate level that he left Ohio State, which has a rich tradition of linebackers, as the school's third-leading tackler. In his senior year, Spielman captured the Lombardi Trophy as the top lineman in the land. But for some ludicrous reason, the so-called "draft experts" overlooked Spielman. Too small, they said, and somehow he slipped aU the way into the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft. That's where the Detroit Lions nabbed their middle linebacker of the future. From that day forward, Spielman started every NFL game he played in. That's 148 games and 148 starts. But Spielman doesn't just play. He dominates! He led the Lions in tackles for 8 straight years. Then, in 1996 he signed with the Buffalo Bills as a free agent. Once in western New York, the NFL's . prototypical middle linebacker continued his personal tradition, and just as he did in Detroit, he led his team in tackles. He racked up an astonishing 206 tackles! Spielman plays the middle linebacker position the same way a chemistry textbook defines a critical laboratory experiment-as an exact science. Simply put, he's one of the best linebackers ever to throw on an NFL jersey. Chris Spielman is football, foot-

to play middle linebacker chose to stay home. He cooked, took care of his kids, and cared for his wife-by choice. Stephanie Spielman, Chris' wife, was struggling through the stark reality of breast cancer. Surgery, chemotherapy, and nausea were Stephanie's opponents. She battled them with the same tenacity her husband shows when seeking out a ball carrier. During her fight Chris was at her side. Asked by a reporter from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

A. Lion-hearted. In the final three seasons of Chris Spielman's career with Detroit, the Lions went 29-19.1n the three years since he left for Buffalo, the team is 19路29. Some say his tenacity and heart are what is missing in Motown.

ball, football. His career is one of passion, total commitment, and loyalty to the game. He played the entire 1995 season with a torn pectoral muscle that he sustained in the season opener. Why? Maybe the hand-lettered sign that sits atop his locker tells the story, it reads: "Super Bowl

if he'd consider a return to the Bills late last season, Spielman said, 'Td play in a heartbeat, but what kind of man would I be if I backed out on my word to her? I wouldn't be a man at all." Football fans see Spielman as a man because of his aggressive, leave-it-aU-on-the-field style of play. But that's not what makes him a man. His personal sacrifice and his unending commitment and loyalty to his wife-that's what makes him a man. While many athletes, businessmen, and even clergymen say their family is more important than their vocation, Chris Spielman's actions support his "family before job" credo. Charles Christopher Spielman may have been born to play middle linebacker-and he's one of the best ever-but his choices have shown that he's more than a football player. He's a man.

Champs. Anything less is failure." The man is tenacious. While Spielman loves the game of football with its intense level of competition, its controlled violence, and its camaraderie, the game took a distant second place in his thinking this past season. The man who seems born .- Comments? rbentz@rbc.org SPORTS SP EC TRU M - MAR CH 1999



Join former NFL quarterback Todd Blackledge, former soccer standout Kyle Rote Jr., and the top church sports ministers in the country for an inspiring three days-April 29 through May 1, 1999-in Dallas. The conference, hosted by Church Sports and Recreation Ministers (C.S.R.M.), will focus on a "Game Plan for the New Millennium: How Churches Can Reach the Next Generation through Sports and Recreation."

The Sports Ministry Conference will feature: • Interesting presentations by people from the professional sports worldincluding a few members of the Dallas Cowboys. • Insightful seminars and workshops led by experienced leaders in ministry through sports. • Invaluable networking opportunities.

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