This story appears in FCA Magazine’s July/August 2016 issue. Subscribe today!
Hometown: Colorado Springs
Family: Wife- Tina
Children- daughters Sydney, Charlotte and Savannah
• National Freestyle Coach, USA Wrestling (2009-present)
• Olympic Freestyle Gold
Medalist, USA Wrestling (2000)
"Then the Almighty will be your gold ...” – Job 22:25 (NASB)
Though raised around Scripture, Brandon Slay sought the comforts of the world while wrestling at the University of Pennsylvania. Later, he found a real and refreshing faith at USA Wrestling’s national training center in Colorado Springs while prepping for an eventual gold medal win in the 2000 Olympics. Now a coach for USA Wrestling, he’s passionate about being a witness for Christ through the sport.
FCA: What are the toughest challenges of coaching?
BS: As an athlete, you felt like things were in your control. As a coach, you can’t control everything. You want so badly for them to do what you’ve been working on, but sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t.
When you pour your successful wrestling and life experience into an athlete, and they choose not to listen and do things their own way, that’s hard. But that comes back to trusting God’s sovereignty. I’m just called to mentor them and teach them how to be the best man and wrestler they can be.
FCA: How have you seen God changing you over time?
BS: He’s continued to help me trust Him with the overall game plan for my life. Sometimes we spend so much time having a vision and planning for the future, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but He’s caused me to focus on today more (Matthew 6:33-34). Today is going to be wild and crazy, so just focus on that because it’s going to have enough worries. Like He’s saying, “Keep seeking Me first. I got it. Just trust Me, seek Me.”
FCA: What is the one thing you want others to know about God?
BS: He encouraged me that there’s a greater gold, a greater treasure, and it’s Him. He’s the Fulfiller, He’s the One I should draw my value from. There’s nothing on the earth that could ever fulfill me. Once you understand that, you can live a much healthier life. You can be like the disciples—just following Jesus wherever He goes, changing the world. Keep Him right in front of you and you’ll be fine.
God didn’t create us in His image to be fulfilled by things of this world. The golds of this world are tarnishing, and moths and rust destroy them. We are only truly fulfilled and eternally satisfied when we draw our value from Christ alone.
FCA: How do you balance training for excellence without letting the quest for gold consume your athletes?
BS: When all you think about is winning, you want to win so badly that you begin to fear losing. Fear overtakes you and you become tight mentally, physically and spiritually, and a lot of times you can crumble under the pressure. The flip side of that, some athletes actually win and accomplish everything they wanted, but soon realize it didn’t fill them.
Winning is a false idol that destroys a wide array of athletes. If you draw your value from the gold medal, you either come up short and it destroys you because you put all your eggs in that basket, or you actually reach the top and it defines who you are. We should use the gifts we have been blessed with to go for the gold in life and glorify God.
FCA: How have your Olympic experiences impacted your faith?
BS: I’ve reached the Mount Everest of wrestling, but you can’t stay up there for too long. It was amazing and beautiful, and you take it all in and you’re thankful for it, but pretty quickly there has to be a new climb, a new challenge. You can’t let that define you; the only thing that will ever fulfill you is having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s the healthy way to live.
FCA Staff Quote:
“Brandon is an amazing ambassador for FCA Wrestling, but more importantly, for Jesus Christ. He continues to be an incredible liaison between FCA and USA Wrestling, and the ministry would not be the same without him. We’re blessed and proud to have Brandon on our board and to call him friend.”
National Director, FCA Wrestling
Photos courtesy of USA Wrestling and Tony Rotundo/WrestlersAreWarriors.com