Jonathan Oshinski knows the impact a coach can have on a young person’s life.
Active in sports like soccer and football from a young age, Jonathan went on to play four years of varsity basketball and baseball while he was a student at Pinecrest Academy, a Regnum Christi school in Cumming, Georgia. It was his relationship with his coaches during that time that served an important role, not only in Jonathan’s athletic development, but in his spiritual growth as well. “Through all these experiences, I developed a real connection with my coaches,” says Jonathan. “They were, first and foremost, men of God and carried themselves in a way that demonstrated what it meant to be a virtuous man.”
They were also a major reason Jonathan became a coach himself; the relationships he formed with his coaches while attending Pinecrest Academy inspired him to pursue an education and career in coaching. “My coaches also pushed me to be my best at everything I did, whether in school, at home, on the court or field, or in my faith,” says Jonathan. “When I got to college and reflected back on some of my life experiences, I realized how much of an impact these coaches played in my life and felt that, maybe, God is calling me to do the same.”
Following that call to have an impact through coaching, Jonathan attended the University of Georgia and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Physical Education. He also recently completed a Master of Science degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Coaching Education from Georgia Southern University in 2017.
And in 2016, Jonathan found himself back at Pinecrest, this time as coach and teacher. After coaching both the middle school boys’ basketball and baseball teams, he is currently serving as the varsity girls’ head basketball coach. In addition to coaching, Jonathan is also the physical education teacher for all middle school students, as well as the assistant summer camps coordinator.
As coach and physical education teacher, Jonathan relishes the opportunity to have an impact on his students in the same way that his own coaches and teachers had an impact on him. “I believe that all of us, no matter what stage we are in life, are in need of mentors and guides who can help us along our journey,” says Jonathan. “For me, many of these people were coaches because of the amount of time that I spent with them on and off the court or field. They helped me to learn what it meant to be a competitor and how to be the best athlete I could be, but also how to be a man of God and use the gifts that He has given me in every aspect of life.”
One of those mentors in Jonathan’s life was his varsity basketball coach at Pinecrest, Andres Montana. It was Coach Montana who not only was one of the people who inspired Jonathan to become a coach himself, but also gave him the motto by which he lives: “Our Best to Christ.” This motto, Jonathan explains, “is a call to give your very best no matter what, because that is how Christ would want us to live.”
Jonathan has taken this motto to heart, and into his role as coach and teacher. “This became a lifestyle for me and has had such a profound impact on my life that I felt it was worth sharing with my athletes,” says Jonathan. “I like to think this has had a profound impact on our teams, because it puts the focus on giving our best to Christ, and not so much on the result. That’s not to say that winning doesn’t matter, but what’s important is whether or not you fulfilled your potential.”
But the O.B.T.C. motto isn’t just a battle cry for his teams about to hit the field or court; for Jonathan, giving “Our Best to Christ” means teaching his athletes and students where their focus should be when they’re off the field as well. “Many of my students and athletes have adopted O.B.T.C. as part of their lives and incorporate it in different aspect of life,” says Jonathan. And this is what Jonathan considers the greatest responsibility he has as a coach: to teach his athletes how to be successful both on and off the playing field.
“Playing sports presents you with numerous opportunities to learn life lessons and prepare you for future success in whatever career God has planned for you. A coach is someone who is in a position to teach those lessons and bring out the best in their athletes. They help push the athlete above and beyond what he or she thinks they are capable of. They teach the athlete what it means to be a humble winner and a gracious loser. They teach the athlete the importance of a team working together towards a common goal. They teach the athlete how to prioritize their life by putting God first, others second, and self last. Coaches have a great duty to fulfill if they want their athletes to achieve true success, knowing that they did their best in order to become the best they are capable of becoming. And that means being their best in every aspect of life.”
Jonathan knows that he can’t fulfill as important a duty as this without prayer: his teams pray before and after every game and practice. On top of that, Jonathan incorporates the teaching of virtue into everything he does with his athletes; he chooses a new virtue every week and discusses with his students different ways they might apply that virtue to their lives. “It isn’t always about what we do on the court, but also how we live our lives off the court as well,” says Jonathan. “By having these conversations, I think it challenges
my athletes to really be their best in every aspect of life, not just on the playing field.”
What Jonathan loves most about his role as coach, teacher, and mentor is this opportunity to guide his students and athletes to be the best they can be, even once they’ve left the basketball court. Ultimately, Jonathan does this by encouraging and cultivating a personal relationship with Jesus in the hearts of those he coaches. “My role is really to plant seeds and let God take care of the rest,” says Jonathan. “My hope is that they are learning how to be the best they can be and develop a personal relationship with God so that they can go forth and fulfill His mission for them.”
Jonathan’s mission to give his best to Christ, and to inspire his athletes to do the same, continues today, despite the sudden and unexpected end to the 2020 baseball season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “COVID-19 really affected my baseball team and it was tough not being able to finish what we started,” says Jonathan. “We had a tough season last year, but were showing a lot of promise at the start of this year. It was really hard not being able to get the result that we were hoping for, but at the end of the day, I felt that we gave it our all in the brief season that we did have.”
There are new challenges ahead for Jonathan, as he learns to adapt his coaching programs and methods to the new safety protocol in place. “The summer will present some challenges because we won’t be able to go to team camp, which has become a major highlight of the summer. Nevertheless, we are going to be creative and keep striving to be our best.” In response to these challenges, he’s been meeting with athletes online and is planning to create online workouts and at-home conditioning programs.
In fact, Jonathan sees the new challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis not as an obstacle to proper coaching, but as an opportunity to create more responsible and accountable athletes. “In a way, I am kind of excited about the challenge at hand, because I think it will force us out of our comfort zone if we want to be our best,” says Jonathan. “Since we cannot all be together, it is going to force each individual to challenge themselves and focus on their personal best if they want to prepare well for the season. It is also going to challenge us to hold each other accountable and see how strong we really are as a team.”
For Jonathan, the adversity caused by the current crisis is a part of life, to which there are two ways to respond: “you can say it’s too hard and give up, or you take it head-on and find a way to overcome it.” Says Jonathan, “Christ certainly didn’t quit when He was met with adversity. If we are striving to follow His example, then we shouldn’t give up either.” He receives the strength and courage to do this by continually turning to his motto, and encouraging his athletes to do likewise: “If we are truly striving to live out O.B.T.C, we will continue to give our best during this time and give all the glory to God while we do it.”