“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”
– 1 Peter 5:3 (ESV)
With a 3-1 victory over Florida State, Oklahoma captured its third straight D1 National Championship in dominant fashion. The Sooners also secured their NCAA record 53rd consecutive win. Much has been made of Coach Patti Gasso’s success at what many regard as a “football school.” She is quick to remind those who will listen that it hasn’t always been that way. When she took the job, Gasso’s vision was to field a competitive team. With no stadium of their own, games were played in a public park. She was driven to go after the best athletes in the country hoping to get at least one. That “one” was Lana Moran, a left-handed pitcher who led Oklahoma to its first National Championship in 2000. Gasso dedicated her life to Christ in 1992, but her faith was tested in the mid-2000s which almost caused her to walk away from the school. It was during this struggle that Gasso realized Satan will often show up when believers share and live out their faith.
With a “you’re not going to stop me” attitude, Gasso connected with Fellowship of Christian Athletes staff member Sarah Roberts. A new approach was implemented. Gasso would focus on coaching and Roberts would facilitate the team chapels and Bible studies. In Gasso’s own words, she states, “The Lord kind of woke me up and was like, you’re doing this wrong. You’re not here to win games. You’re here to open the door, here to win souls. You open the door, let them in. I’ll take over from there.” If you watched the postgame interview following this year’s championship, you saw and heard the fruit of this vision. Gasso is a great coach, but she also equips her athletes and allows them to use their platforms for Christ. “Those championships are orchestrated by Him as well”, she says. “I’ve got some brave athletes who stand on the biggest platform and are not afraid to share their faith.” Hard to argue with that!
Heavenly Father, help me to be a positive example to those You have put in my charge. Teach me to see more than wins and losses. Guide me as I seek to share lessons that will last for eternity and not just a season. In Jesus name, Amen.