A Dedicated Coach and Fellowship of Christian Athletes Campus Director Team Up to Put a Bible into the Hands of Every Texas Tech Athlete
Life-Giving Stories of the Bible Became a Rallying Point for the Texas Tech Teams as They Used God’s Word as a Foundation for Their Identity
March 2, 2020
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Texas Tech track and field coach Wes Kittley had a dream to put a Bible into the hands of every one of his coaches and athletes. In fact, he committed to writing a personal note in each of them.
To facilitate the special gift in the Christmas of 2018, Kittley worked with Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA, www.fca.org) Campus Director Corbin Young.
But Young’s idea was even bigger than the track team. He had only been at Texas Tech for a year when the thought came to him during the heat of preseason football practice.
“I was just sitting there looking at 120 players, just praying through how I was going to reach that many athletes as one chaplain,” said Young, who serves as the chaplain for the Texas Tech men’s teams alongside FCA Collegiate Representative Brandi Cantrell, who serves as the chaplain for the women’s teams. “And it’s not just football, but all of the men’s teams. How can I make a significant touch? I know realistically I can’t disciple them all like I wish I could. It felt like God laid on my heart that there was nothing better than giving them His Word.”
His next thought was a bit more daunting.
“Well, I can’t just do it for one team.”
That meant raising just over $10,000 to get Competitor’s Bibles and Coach’s Bibles in the hands of more than 400 Texas Tech athletes and coaches. Young was convinced it would be one of the easiest asks he had ever made of his donors. He was right. It only took four people to cover the entire cost. Before Young ordered the Bibles, however, he talked to each of the coaching staffs to ask permission.
“We didn’t have any pushback at all,” he said. “We were doing it for everyone, and we made it known that anyone on campus could have a Bible if they wanted one.”
Once the project became a reality, it began having real impact on the athletes. For instance, Texas Tech baseball standout Josh Jung will never forget seeing Young walk into the locker room with two big boxes.
“He started handing Bibles to everyone, and guys’ faces started to light up, especially the guys who already had a relationship with Christ,” Jung recalled.
Today, Jung is working his way up the Texas Rangers farm system after being selected as the eighth overall pick in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. But while at Texas Tech, Jung was one of his team’s spiritual leaders and watched throughout the year as Christian teammates grew stronger in their faith and others had seeds planted for the first time.
“Having the Bibles was a big deal,” he said. “Not all of the guys carried them around all of the time, but they had them in their lockers, and they could see it every single day. Guys really started to connect with it, and that’s where relationships were built. Those Bibles really helped guide their path to where they wanted to go.”
While the No. 4-ranked men’s baseball team was making a big run at the College World Series, Texas Tech’s No. 15-ranked softball team was likewise having quite the season en route to 42 wins and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. But according to Cantrell, something much bigger was taking place behind the scenes.
“There’s a lot of strong student leadership on that team and a lot of players that have been pursuing the Lord the last couple of years,” she said. “So the ones that don’t know the Bible as well were able to go back and read the stories that their teammates were talking about. Those life-giving stories in the Bible became a rallying point for them and their season, and they used God’s Word as a foundation for the identity of their team.”
Coach Kittley’s men’s track and field team also saw success, winning the NCAA Championship. But even more special was the handing out of the personalized FCA Bibles at the team Christmas party.
“My athletes were surprised to get the Bible, but I didn’t tell them I wrote in it,” Kittley said. “They didn’t know until they opened them up. Then I started getting feedback from many of them. Some of them told me how special it was to have that Bible along with the memories of being on our team.
“It really was a dream come true.”
FCA recently announced its 2020 ministry theme—100%—which will guide the entire year of events, studies, resources, gatherings, Camps and more. Learn more at www.fcacamps.org, where visitors can also watch the 100% theme video as well as the 2020 Camps video.
Read more about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes here, visit FCA’s website at www.fca.org, its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fcafans or its Twitter feed @fcanews.
To interview a Fellowship of Christian Athletes representative, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Patrick Benner, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.