This story appears in FCA Magazine’s May/June 2017 issue. Subscribe today!
Hometown: Bowling Green, Kentucky
Positions: Pitcher, First Base
• Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll (2016)
• Conference USA Championship All-Tournament Team (2015)
“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”
– Hebrews 10:23
Raised in a Christian home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Kathryn Downing’s parents made sure she had every opportunity to see the gospel lived out. After a knee injury in high school, God reworked Downing’s identity and solidified her heart in His love. Now, as a student-athlete at Western Kentucky University, she savors the connection with those whom she can build up and encourage in their worth in Christ.
FCA: How has God shifted your identity?
KD: As a sophomore in high school, we were one week away from the district basketball tournament when I went down with a knee injury. I remember sobbing, just being in shambles, like life is over. The next morning, my mom was driving me to get an MRI, and I was a basket case. I remember her turning to me and saying, “Kathryn, you’re defined by so much more than this sport. This is not the end all, be all. This is not what your hope is found in.” In that moment it didn’t mean a whole lot to me, but looking back I see how right she was.
I never played another day of basketball. He completely took that away from me to show me He’s where my attention needs to be. Even though I’ve spent a lot of time playing softball, I know where my identity is. And I know that it’s in Jesus.
FCA: Why is it important to find accountability?
KD: You are who you surround yourself with. My freshman year [at Western Kentucky], I struggled to find that good company that was going to lift me up, keep me to a high standard, and keep me accountable. We’re called to show Jesus and spread the gospel, but by the same token you’ve got to surround yourself with people who aren’t going to corrupt your good character.
FCA: How has God moved through your FCA Huddle?
KD: FCA’s incredible in that it enables athletes who are really seeking Jesus to get together, share struggles and grow through the Word. You have to put yourself in places like FCA and surround yourself with others who are willing to be in the Word and follow Jesus while playing their sport—people who will remind you of His promises through obedience.
To all student-athletes: go be involved in your Huddle, go serve on campus, and God will bless that, as He has done through our FCA.
FCA: What does faithfulness look like to you?
KD: My sophomore year, we started a team Bible study. We maybe saw 3-4 people come per week. It was constantly discouraging to not get more, but the senior who was leading it continued to be faithful. Last year, she moved on and I started leading, and we saw 15-17 girls each week. This year, it’s about the same. It’s a testament to God’s faithfulness and to His disciples’ faithfulness. I commend the girls who were before me. It’s all on God’s timing. It’s about being faithful when we don’t necessarily see what we want.
FCA: What do you want to take away from your time at Western Kentucky?
KD: I want to look back on these four years of softball and ask, “Who did I impact in Jesus’ name?”—not how many games did I win. I’m super competitive and still have times I get wrapped up in the moment, but every single time I see God’s relentless pursuit of me, saying, “Look, come back to Me! Your purpose is the Great Commission—go, make, teach, baptize. It’s not to win these games. It’s to show Jesus to these girls on your team, your coaches, everyone you surround yourself with, and have My name heard.” It’s to realign my focus and say, “Remember why you’re here.”
FCA Staff Quote:
“Kat loves Jesus, and it overflows into how she plays and lives her life. She is a positive leader in every way to her teammates—on the field as a player and off the field leading a team Bible study. It is awesome to see how she takes teammates under her wing and teaches them what it means to follow Christ.”
-Brian Runyan, FCA Area Director
South Central Kentucky
Photos courtesy of WKU Athletic Media Relations