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Turn to Jesus (Article)

St. Patrick Father-Son Jersey Night with Tim Tebow
A SportsLeader football team gets a boost of encouragement from a Heisman trophy winner and from their own dads.

The St Patrick Celtics football team in action.
The St Patrick Celtics football team in action.

By Lou Judd

Mike Meiners, SportsLeader head football coach of the St. Patrick Celtics in Louisville, KY, had a great idea this week. He had been planning a special event for his team, a father-son jersey night, and he got a little help from the Holy Spirit on how to make it much more special.

Five years ago, Mike coached a young man by the name of Sam Robey who went on to be recruited by the University of Florida. He now plays on the same team as Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. So Mike got in touch with Sam and asked him if he could do him a favor.

"Sam, could you see if Tim would have time to call me on Thursday evening and say a few words to your old team?" A few hours later, Coach Meiners got a text message from Tim saying that he would happy to do it and at what time should he call. Mike wrote back between 7:50 and 8 PM.

This, of course, was kept as a surprise for the team. No one knew about it.

Mike has his regular practice routine, but this Thursday night was going to be a little special. He had invited all the dads of his players to come to present their sons with their game jerseys and say a few words of encouragement and praise.

Mike has 27 players. Almost all the dads were able to be present. One of them is on duty in Iraq, but he still was able to send Mike an email to be read for his son. As Mike read the heartfelt note, there wasn´t a dry eye on the field. As the evening progressed, this didn’t change.

Mike would call
Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow encouraged the St Patrick Celtics team to give their best.
Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow encouraged the St Patrick Celtics team to give their best.
up a player, say a word or two, hand his dad the jersey, and the dads would put an arm around their son, tell them how much they loved them, how proud of them they were, what a blessing they were, what they were great at … it was inspiring. Every young man literally glowed from the pride and love that was being showered on him by his dad.

At exactly 7:50 p.m., Mike´s phone rang. It was Tim Tebow.

They heard Mike greeting Tim: “Hey Tim, I´ve got a group of 27 8th graders right here that admire you a lot and they’re learning what it takes to be a man. I´d like for you to say a few words to them.”

Mike turned to his players. “Guys, this is Tim Tebow on the phone and he wants to say a few words to you.”

Tim’s voice came through the speakerphone. “Can you hear me?”

“Yeah, we can hear you, Tim!” they responded.

“Great, well how y´all doing guys? I talked to Sam and he was telling me about you all´s team a little bit so I´ve been able to learn about you and everything you´re going through, and I just want to say good luck with this season. You´re going to do great. Just keep your mind on your goals and what your priorities are and what you´re trying to accomplish. Listen to your coaches and you´ll have a lot of success.”

“A few things for me that I learned along the way were a few rules that I try to live by. I learned them from my high school football coach: ‘Do your best, do what´s right, and treat others the way you want to be treated.’”

“If you live by those three things, you´re going to be successful both on and off the field and that´s really something that I try to keep in my mind every day at practice, every day in school and the way I treat people every day off the field.”

“Make sure you keep that in mind. Doing your best, that´s everything. Everything you do, do your best, in school, out of school, the way you treat your parents, the way you treat your friends… Do your best and treat others the way you want to be treated, and do what´s right. If you
“Keep your mind on your goals.”
“Keep your mind on your goals.”
always do what´s right, you´ll have a very successful season on and off the field.”

“Just keep that in mind. I just want to say God bless, Go Gators, listen to your coaches, buy into the program, and go all out, go 100% and you´re going to have success.”

“That´s pretty much all I got. Thanks for letting me share with you all.”

Mike leaned over the speakerphone and said, “Hey Tim, Great luck this season and we just want to give you one Go Gators. Alright men: 1,2,3…”

“Go Gators!” the boys shouted.

As you can imagine the next dad up to present to his son had a tough act to follow, but he did great. One of the dads and assistant coaches is a former offensive lineman from Notre Dame. Mike was especially pleased that he was so comfortable telling his son how much he meant to him, that he loved him.

After the last dad spoke, Mike briefly addressed the team. Not much more needed to be said.

But then one of the Dads asked to speak to the whole group, "I know I was like most of you, thinking what are we trying to accomplish by doing this. I was not sure and I was a little worried. But now that I´ve witnessed what transpired – it´s not every day that we get a chance to tell our boys how much they mean to us in front of their friends and have it be acceptable. Thank you so much, Coach,” he said.

The team then took a knee and huddled in prayer. The first four nights of practice, Mike led this prayer for the team. Since then, he hasn´t had to lead it and no one has ever written
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it down. Last night the quarterback raised his hand. He wanted to lead the prayer:

Lord, thank you for walking with me this day. Please continue to mold me into the man you created me to be by purifying my heart and giving me the strength to serve you in all that I say and do. Let me take on every challenge with your spirit acting within me and may I love as you love. Amen.

As Coach Meiners drove home that night he got a phone call from a Dad.

"Mike, I don´t care what anybody says – if anyone has ever been critical of you for coaching football – the event you just did made up for it tenfold. That was the most incredible 30 minutes of sporting experience I´ve ever had."

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