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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Prayer and Practice Makes Perfect
Pinecrest Middle School Boys win Basketball Championship

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Atlanta, February 17, 2007. The Pinecrest Middle School Boys Basketball Team recently ended what their coaches described as a “magical season” by winning the North Atlanta Metro League basketball championship. In the final game, the Pinecrest team faced a tough rival in Mount Vernon. The league’s top seed, Mount Vernon had twice defeated the Pinecrest team during the regular season and, as hosts of the tournament, enjoyed home court advantage. Nevertheless, the Pinecrest team enjoyed the support of their entire school community as Pinecrest students, teachers and families showed up to cheer on their team. As the team looked up into the crowd, the sight of their spirited supporters filling the stands did much to rally their spirits throughout an exhilarating final game that came down to the last possession.

The coaches cite the support of their school as one of the two major factors that contributed to the team’s success. The other factor? Prayer. The coaching staff, composed of Joe Neiner, Billy Haynes, and Rick Swygman, began the very first practice in the chapel before ever touching a ball or stepping on the court. True to the spirit of their school, the team focused its efforts on “giving glory to God”. The coaches note that, “to maintain this focus we prayed before, during, and after every practice and game, with each prayer led by a different team member”. This was a key theme as the season progressed, and as their season moved into the playoffs, the team stepped up their prayer as well as their game. “Every afternoon before our three playoff games, the team met in the chapel asking God to grant us His grace… in return for our giving Him our best in effort and in attitude.”

One of the team’s key supporters (and intercessors) during the championship game
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was St. Joseph. Before the last game, the team read aloud and meditated on a prayer to St. Joseph. Their coaches urged them to “carry this prayer into the game, and to use their play as a continuing form of prayer”. The result? “Every member of the team – including those on the bench – performed selflessly, with total intensity, great character, and respect for the other team.”

The entire Pinecrest community is proud of their champions, who have grown into a team of prayerful and focused young men, and a force to be reckoned within North Atlanta Middle School Basketball.



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