Each new sports season brings an exciting opportunity to outdo the previous one, and sometimes that happens in unexpected ways.
Bailee Alderson is a Character Coach and second-year intern with South Central Kentucky FCA, and she loves connecting with coaches and athletes. Last year, as the South Warren High girls’ basketball season began, Bailee introduced herself to the team and explained why she was there: to talk about Jesus and to be a friend, mentor, and resource throughout the season.
One player, Auhlayia Butler, shared her initial thoughts about Bailee’s presence: “Can we just get to basketball? I came to practice basketball, not hear about Christ.”
Auhlayia's impatience wasn’t an uncommon reaction, but Bailee knew she was charged to be present and keep sharing, so that’s what she did.
“One day, I was talking to the girls about attitude on and off the court and I shared that we need to treat people with love and respect, even those who don’t do the same for us,” Bailee said.
This comment stopped Auhlayia in her tracks and had her ask, “You’re telling me I have to respect people who don’t give it back to me and love people who don’t do that for me?”
She shared an honest feeling many can relate to. Bailee answered yes and explained that was exactly what Jesus when He gave His love to a world that didn't always welcome Him.
This sparked Auhlayia’s curiosity, but she stayed focused only on basketball.
“During team Huddles, we would talk about the Bible and reflect on it,” Auhlayia said. “Honestly, I didn’t care for it because at the end of the day, I was there for basketball. But I also understood that Bailee’s whole purpose for being there was to connect basketball and Christ.” So, she listened.
Bailee began to physically see the wheels turn for Auhlayia as she learned about Jesus for the first time. By the end of the season, Bailee knew Auhlayia needed to go to FCA Camp.
“I really felt that God told me she needed to be there, so I called (FCA South Central Kentucky Multi-Area Director) Brian Runyan and I told him we had to find a way to get her to camp,” Bailee said.
Brian secured a scholarship so Bailee could invite Auhlayia. At first, Auhlajia was unsure, but Bailee then continued to appeal to her love of sports.
“She kept talking about basketball and sports, and honestly I think God did that because if it wouldn’t have been for basketball, I probably would not have gone,” Auhlayia recalled.
On the first day of Camp, Auhlayia was visibly disengaged, not participating in discussions and keeping to herself. The next day, though, basketball was on the agenda and drew her in. When her Huddle leader shared the Gospel, she intently listened and realized it was meant for her.
On the final day of Camp, Pastor Ken Watson shared a powerful message with an invitation to be saved. Auhlayia made a faith decision for the first time, and her life was forever changed. Her attitude toward her sport, family and friends completely transformed. “After I was saved, I became a different person.”
Because of FCA Camp and Bailee’s godly influence, Auhlayia’s love of basketball now runs far deeper than the court.
Said Bailee, “That’s why we do what we do, why we pour into the kids... the effects are eternal.”
Watch a video of this ministry impact story.
Find out more about FCA Camps or how to become a Character Coach.