This story appears in FCA Magazine’s May/June 2018 issue.
Arlington, Virginia Coaching career:
• Air Force Academy, Assistant
• Princeton, Assistant
• Richmond, Assistant
• Grove City College, Head Coach
• CCLA Division II Coach of the Year (2014)
• Scored 63 goals at Marymount as four-year starting attackman (2008-10, '12)
• Three-time letterman in swimming at Marymount (2008-10)
• Team captain of both Marymount teams (2008-10)
"Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand." — Isaiah 41:10
The first time Dan Carson integrated his faith into lacrosse came in 2012 at an FCA Camp in Vail, Colorado. Carson served as a Huddle Leader at the invitation of Frank Kelly, an FCA Hall of Champions inductee and former professional player. Since then, Carson has become a coach who lifts the souls of his student-athletes. This summer, he’ll share the gospel as part of FCA’s service team during the World Lacrosse Games in Israel.
FCA: What drew you to lacrosse?
DC: For me, it’s always been such a fun way to compete. There’s speed, a lot of scoring, physicality and creativity. The sport is growing in so many areas that the door is open for ministry to step in and be a huge, integral part. That’s what I love about FCA Lacrosse; they use the sport as a vehicle to preach the gospel.
FCA: What did you learn about yourself competing in both lacrosse and swimming at Marymount University?
DC: It originally seemed like a daunting task. But, once I was in it, I felt like I had a leadership role in both sports that I couldn’t relinquish.
I wasn’t the best swimmer, but I filled a role on our relay teams. In a couple close meets, I was the guy who stepped in and helped us win. My “off-the-field” presence allowed me to talk to guys about character and faith. In lacrosse, I was one of our top three scorers every year. I was more of a guy people leaned on in terms of on-the-field presence.
FCA: How was your faith shaped during that time?
DC: That’s the biggest part of my testimony. When I was senior in 2011, I was the opposite of how you would want a Christian to live their life. I was involved a lot on campus and using my influence to feed my ego. I plagiarized someone else’s words as my own on an assignment, and I got suspended for the spring semester.
I went through a period of not knowing what I was going to do with my life. Then, through David Webb and his wife, Caroline, I went to Johannesburg, South Africa, for that semester. I worked with Baby Haven (an orphanage) through His People Church and experienced God’s love through those children. Men at the church challenged me in my faith to make my relationship with Christ stronger. After those four months, I rededicated my life to Christ and got baptized. Now, I coach college lacrosse because college is where God revealed Himself to me through my mistakes.
FCA: How do you share your faith with your athletes?
DC: It varies depending on the person and the conversation, but you’ve got to get to know them. Just like knowing who you can put on the field at the end of the game, you have to know how they handle different things. I’ll sit down next to a guy at dinner or on the bus and ask them about their family. What values does their family have? Sometimes that leads them to talk about church and faith.
In any college setting, you’re going to make mistakes and experience failure. How do you bounce back? I get to connect with them and talk about how my faith, in my own failures, really reshaped me and helped me become the man I am. If you show them you care, the door is open more often than not to share your faith.
FCA Staff Quote:
“It has been great to watch Coach Carson help lead and serve at Air Force. He continues to keep his heart, mind and eyes focused on Christ.”
— Ryan Horanburg
Photos courtesy of Steve Parker/Air Force.