Love at a Football Game!

This is an incredible story about the Gainesville State School and Grapevine Faith reported in 2008.

There was an unusual high school football game played in Grapevine, Texas. The game was between Grapevine Faith Academy and the Gainesville State School. Faith is a Christian school and Gainesville State School is located within a maximum security correction facility. 
Gainesville State School has 14 players. They play every game on the road. Their record was 0-8. They’ve only scored twice. Their 14 players are teenagers who have been convicted of crimes ranging from drugs to assault to robbery. Most had families who had disowned them. They wore outdated, used shoulder pads and helmets. Faith Academy was 7-2. They had 70 players, 11 coaches, and the latest equipment.

Chris Hogan, the head coach at Faith Academy, knew the Gainesville team would have no fans and it would be no contest, so he thought, “What if half of our fans and half of our cheerleaders, for one night only, cheered for the other team?” He sent out an email to the faithful asking them to do just that. “Here’s the message I want you to send,” Hogan wrote. “You’re just as valuable as any other person on the planet.”

Some folks were confused and thought he was nuts. One player said, “Coach, why are we doing this?” Hogan said, “Imagine you don’t have a home life, no one to love you, no one pulling for you. Imagine that everyone pretty much had given up on you. Now, imagine what it would feel like and  mean to you for hundreds of people to suddenly believe in you.”

The idea took root. On the night of the game, imagine the surprise of those 14 players when they took the field and there was a banner the cheerleaders had made for them to crash through. The visitors’ stands were full. The cheerleaders were leading cheers for them. The fans were calling them by their names. Isaiah, the  quarterback-middle linebacker said, “I never in my life thought I would hear parents cheering to tackle and hit their kid. Most of the time, when we come out, people are afraid of us. You can see it in their eyes, but these people are yelling for us. They knew our names.”

Faith won the game, and after the game the teams gathered at the 50-yard line to pray. That’s when Isaiah, the teenage convict-quarterback surprised everybody and asked if he could pray. He prayed, “Lord, I don’t know what just happened so I don’t know how or who to say thank you to, but I never knew there were so many people in the world who cared about us.” On the way back to the bus, under guard, each one of the players was handed a burger, fries, a coke, candy, a Bible, and an encouraging letter from the players from Faith Academy.

What an incredible act of Christian witness and kindness and goodness that was. Proverbs 11:17 says, “Your own soul is nourished when you are kind.” Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good when it is in your power to act.”

Be kind to someone this week. Be kind to every person you meet. You might be amazed at what God will do with a simple act of kindness.

About the author

Don Ingwerson Don regularly blogs on health and spirituality and lives in Laguna Beach with his wife - both Christian Science practitioners. He brings his years serving the public in education to his work as a liaison of Christian Science, where he maintains contacts with the media and legislative offices.

Comments

  1. Mary says

    I’m writing this with tears streaming down my face. What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Ray says

    Deeply touching, as the application of the Golden Rule always is, I think. A lovely example of Love reflected in love.

  3. Rhonda Turvey says

    I loved how they went even beyond the call of duty…they heaped on the blessing feeding them (physically and spiritually)after the game. Yes, it is sometimes amazing what happens when we love unconditionally.
    And it sure inspired me to look for ways I can maybe bless someone who seems not worthy of blessing. Jesus showed us the way to do it! He loved the deceitful tax collector and look what happened! Yea! to Faith Academy and Chris Hogan who were faithful followers of Jesus.(=

  4. Christina says

    Perhaps one of the most life/world changing statements for all time is what follows from “Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, “No power can withstand divine Love.” No power–no faulty background, no misbehavior, no moral or physical sickness, no error of any kind can withstand the healing power of being a true witness for divine Love’s perfect child.
    Now the question to me is, how can I live my life following Coach Hogan’s example on a more hourly/daily basis? Perhaps praying fervently for God’s help to see others through His eyes and love them with His heart. In other words, teach me dear Father to love others with Your perfect love that heals.

  5. Stephanie says

    Thank you to all of you made this happen and those who are continuing to share this beautiful experience.

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