This article appears in the Spring 2022 edition of the FCA Donor Publication. The FCA publication is a gift from our FCA staff to all donors giving $50 or more annually. For more information about giving, visit here.
A coach’s legacy is often defined by their wins and losses. While those stats provide the numerical success of a program, it leaves out the finer details about the time a coach puts into developing their program and the athletes they impact along the way.
Aimee and Jeff Gerber began their careers and impact in youth ministry out of college on staff at a church in Flint, Michigan. When a local Christian school learned of the former college athletes’ desires to coach and minister to youth through sport, they were quickly recruited to coaching positions. Aimee started coaching volleyball and Jeff joined the basketball staff.
After 10 years of coaching and serving in youth ministry in Michigan, the now-family of six moved down to Florida for several years before God called them to Colorado. The Gerbers were given an opportunity to broaden their ministry beyond coaching in Christian-based schools and go where the need was. Not long after Jeff accepted a position as the head pastor at Faith Baptist in New Castle, Colorado, God provided Aimee and Jeff coaching positions at Coal Ridge High School.
Aimee coaches the girls’ varsity volleyball program while Jeff serves as the JV head coach and varsity assistant coach for the basketball program while maintaining his duties as head pastor at Faith Baptist Church.
“Coming here was my first experience of coaching in a public school,” Aimee said. “After much prayer and discussion, we decided God had called us to public schools.”
CHRIST AND ATHLETICS
Aimee has developed a way of coaching that compliments her faith and helps her players know she not only commands their best on the court, but that she will coach them in love, grace and accountability.
“My college volleyball coach taught me that you could love a sport and still have a passion for impacting the lives of kids,” said Aimee, who now has four boys of her own. “I realized that Christ and athletics didn’t have to be separate, that you could love a sport and show them Christ through the sport. That was a big change and defining time for me.”
That experience has helped Aimee develop her coaching philosophy that builds young women of integrity, moral courage and mutual respect. Her teams have accumulated numerous accolades on the court including five League Championships, two Regional Championships and two State Qualifiers.
While the trophies are rewarding, Aimee prioritizes character-building talks in her volleyball practices, which naturally help build the team’s depth and trust amongst each other. That trust has also resulted in many of her players and staff now participating in FCA.
“Almost half of our athletes are now coming to FCA,” she said. “This allows us to connect on a different level. And because they hear these character talks in our FCA Huddle, they understand the concepts at a greater depth.”
Former Coal Ridge volleyball player Emily Wright credits her time spent in Gerber’s volleyball program as an essential piece that helped her become the person she is today. Now a senior in college, Wright still thinks about the lessons Gerber instilled in her more than four years ago.
“Aimee helped shape me into the person I am today, and I am so thankful for that,” she said. “At FCA, both she and Jeff made sure we understood the place the Lord had in our lives and encouraged us to keep Him close through every aspect.”
-Emily Wright, Former Coal Ridge Volleyball Player
As a vocational pastor, Jeff sees coaching as a great opportunity to impact the lives of teenagers. He admits that it can be challenging at times, but he sees parallels between giving a sermon and coaching his basketball team.
“So often it can feel like the kids aren’t listening when you’re teaching a sermon or coaching them on plays, but I have learned that you never know who is taking it in.”
Four years ago, Jeff planted a seed in the heart of one of the FCA members who began attending Huddle meetings as a freshman. Recently, the young man, now a senior, reached out to Jeff and told him he wanted to pursue ministry after he graduated high school.
“He is a great example that this is all worth it—even if it’s one kid,” Jeff said. “When God gets ahold of a life, it doesn’t stop there.”
Jeff and Aimee were not familiar with FCA’s mission when they arrived in Colorado. Even after a fellow coach shared the idea with them, they couldn’t find anyone to lead the area’s FCA Huddle.“It sounded like a perfect fit for us, and so we started it up,” Jeff said.
When the Gerbers first started the FCA Huddle in New Castle just over 10 years ago, they served 15 students who met every other week. Today, Vail Valley FCA ministers to more than 70 student-athletes across seven active Huddles.
“I don’t think we would be where we are today without Jeff’s and Aimee’s leadership, love and support,” said Western Colorado Multi-Area Director Tina Snover. “They are selfless servants of Jesus who do the ministry of FCA for God’s glory.
But the Gerbers’ service hasn’t only impacted their high school and church; it’s taking root in their family as well. Their oldest son, Hunter, serves as an FCA Huddle Leader at Lancaster Bible College. Within that Huddle is his little brother, Austin, who plays basketball and golf for the college. The Gerbers’ two youngest sons, eighth grader Chase and high school junior Brady, are multi-sport athletes and involved in ministry programs at their respective schools.
The Gerbers are proud and humbled that God has ahold of their children’s lives and find joy in seeing the fruit of their coaching and ministry grow not only in their own family, but amongst their athletes too.
So no matter how many wins or losses their teams accrue, what is for certain is that the dash between Aimee and Jeff’s coaching records represents a lot of lives impacted by Christ.
Join us in praying for the Gerbers as they lead and influence athletes with the truth of the Gospel and continue using their talents and efforts to serve the ministry of FCA.
To support Tina Snover and her local ministry as the Colorado Multi-Area Director click here.
Photos courtesy of the Gerber family