Injecting God’s love into lives of student athletes
By DAVE MYERS
Southwest Kansas Catholic
Editor’s Note: The following is one of a series of articles that includes topics presented at the Aug. 25 Stewardship Conference in Dodge City. The Stewardship Conference, organized by Director of Stewardship, Eric Haselhorst, presents ways for participants to be better equipped to serve the Lord and each other. Complete lists of hand-outs from Stewardship Day can be found at dcdiocese.org/stewardship/stewardship-day.
For Dodge City High School teacher Taviana Lowery, one word brings with it a God-given answer to injecting the love of Christ back into the lives of young people: discipleship.
At the annual Stewardship Conference, Aug. 25 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Lowery addressed, “How to be a disciple while coaching.” It was a discussion ultimately pertaining to all students, not only student athletes.
Lowery is starting her 14th year as a teacher at the high school, instructing students from many corners of the globe how to speak English.
“Discipleship in a public-school setting is tricky,” she said, “but it doesn’t have to be nonexistent. There are many ways we can be disciples to our young people without offending anyone. I can go to my son’s team and pray with them.”
When an audience member asked if she had ever been taken to task for praying with the youth, she replied, “I’ve never gotten grief for praying with kids. Only thanks.”
“I’m a teacher. I see so much hurt. Poverty. Abuse. Youth who feel very worthless.” [Dodge City High School lost two young people to suicide earlier in the year.]
Yet, she adds, “I am amazed how God has turned so much tragedy into something so beautiful. I’ve seen so many in the community reaching out asking how to help.
“As parents, we have a tremendous amount of power,” she said. “You have an influence on your children; they can see the love of Christ in you. That’s discipleship. That is your mission.”
And coaches? “Coaches have a tremendous amount of influence over their student athletes.
“You have the power to disciple in a way that’s free from many of the restraints of the school setting. Maybe we’re not taking advantage. Are we focusing on baseball and only baseball, or are we focusing on something bigger?”
As a member of the worldwide Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Lowery has seen how Christianity in an athletic setting can affect youth.
“If they could just see how much He loves them, they’d be okay. They don’t know God loves them, that He’s there for them.
“I hope you will think about how you can reach out to our youth, because they are hurting. Today’s world is very broken. Our youth are dealing with things they should never have to deal with. I have a passion for Church and a passion for kids.
“Discipleship is a very personal decision and mission,” she said. “I tell my children, ‘Whatever you decide to do is your mission from Christ.’ If we want to share the love of Jesus Christ and be a disciple, He will guide us.”