Baseball Clearwater Blog

700 tten by Jimmy Keane, Head Baseball Coach + Assistant AD

Thursday, March 30

Baseball Spring Term  on the beach.

Our players had to find energy throughout the day. The most difficult challenge of our Spring Term is balancing the high expectations for both service and athletic performance. Today tested that.

Our morning began with Asher Sabom leading devotion. Asher spoke about his journey to, from, and back again to NCCS. He shared how listening to God in the face of big decisions can be difficult, but how God is looking for us to surrender both the decision and the outcome to Him.

The team was split into two, one went to our Habitat partner house where we laid sod for the entire yard and planted trees, flowers, and bushes. The other group stayed behind at the request of our host, Lynn Timberlake, to clean the beach and take care of maintenance for her and her husband. Cay Pointe has been an incredible home for us, so it was special to give back with our effort.

The challenge from an athletic standpoint came with our 7 p.m. game. Long days of service meant we had to dig deep for energy. Tonight was truly an opportunity to use the gifts God has given our boys to honor him with playing the game of baseball. It was a complete team victory that ended with a trip to IHOP! (Not much is open at 9:30 at night.)

The bus rolled back in around 12:30 a.m., but the boys ended the night the same as we’ve ended each one since Sunday, with a beach devotion. Mattheson Go spoke to the team about being content with God in both good and bad situations. He also told the team that praying to God and receiving a no from Him is just as important as getting a yes. Prayer doesn’t mean we get what we want; it means we are honoring Him and devoting all our decisions to Him. Poignant message from one of the leaders of our group who’s overcome so much in his life.

Tomorrow the boys have two games to play, which means more opportunities to enjoy an incredible week!

Wednesday, March 29

I think many of our players and coaches have stopped trying to use words to describe how God is moving our hearts this trip. There is so much planning that goes into Spring Term, but it’s what happens in the in-between that shows how powerful Spring Term is and how God uses it to transform hearts.

We took a break this morning from our student led devotions to allow some special guests speak to the players. Parents wrote letters before we left to their sons, and today we had players read them on the beach to start the day. An intimate moment that was special to observe but also private to each player.

Our whole group was on the construction site with Habitat for Humanity. We painted, installed doors and windows, cut in trim, cleaned, and spoke to our Habitat partners. One home had the woman who the house was being built for work alongside them. The homes Habitat builds are completed in 12 weeks. Coach Moore’s group used their break time to do a prayer walk throughout the neighborhood where they prayed for David, Amy, and Chuck. 

Once our work was done we headed to IMG for the last day of practice in preparation for our upcoming games. It was after practice we decided to change our plans and eat at a Mexican food restaurant. The players and coaches enjoyed the evening with no dishes.

It’s at this point that our trip has truly started to turn into something more. Each evening we are gathering on the beach for our evening devotions. It’s special because what each player is sharing with their teammates is bold, unexpected, and real. 

Cooper Williams led our devotion tonight and used the opportunity to give an emotionally charged devotion using Proverbs as his guide. He talked about his journey and the path God place him on to get to NCCS. His devotion and his voice were incredible but what stood out the most was his honesty towards his teammates. As I write this I can honestly say it’s hard to capture this moment in a blog. Our players are finding their voices, filled with appreciate towards their families and towards God. As a coach I’m learning as much as leading, which shows the level of character and depth that is being cultivated on this trip.

Tuesday, March 28

Before we left for Spring Term, Mrs. Strange challenged the student body to ask the question, “Where did you see God today?” For our group today, His hands were wrapped around each moment.

Our day started with eggs and chicken biscuits made by the coaches. Reid Morlan, one of the main drivers for wanting to do service work that required construction service, led our morning devotion. He challenged our group to look at Proverbs 14:23, which is our theme verse for the baseball season. Reid’s call to work hard for God’s purpose was the perfect springboard for what our group did next. We also handed out our letters from Mrs. Hughes 3rd grade class who are our prayer partners. The boys kept the notes with them in their pockets as they worked, a subtle reminder that we are not alone on this trip. 

We were split into three groups, one at a supply warehouse that Habitat for Humanity manages, and two groups at building sites. The building sites worked hard to install windows, doors, and stay as safe as possible. Xavier, our Habitat lead, was incredible in helping our groups understand how the work allows families to have some incredible homes. 

The warehouse team was able to do some manual work, but then decided to hit the streets on a prayer walk. Specifically, a man named George engaged our group and was so excited to join in prayer. Super powerful moment to see our young men boldly praying at gas stations and bus stops while being received with such joy.

After lunch by a local sub shop, the team traveled to IMG for practice. Long and hot day but the team remained entrenched in Proverbs, working hard. Once we returned, another gorgeous sunset greeted the group as Reid, Kade, Cooper, and Mills cooked spaghetti, meatballs, and garlic bread. It’s been a treat to have our players cook meals and to eat under the stars with the ocean crashing.

We are three days in and our evening devotions have become the group favorite. Words are failing to describe what’s happening as our team -- our family -- is coming together to share God’s word. What’s more incredible, these are student run, addressing issues and topics that God has placed on their hearts.

Tobias Rupp led tonight’s devotion, surrounded by tiki torches. He chose to dive into Proverbs 14:23 but chose to tie in Solomon. Tobias’ message centered around toil and how some toil can be vanity. But our hard work is not wasted when it’s done to glory God. Sometimes our hard work is not rewarded in a way we want, but if God is who we are working hard for, we will be blessed on His time. 

Tomorrow we have another long day. But what’s evident is our hearts are open to being led by God. 

Monday, March 27Today was special. It was special because our day was led by the players that make up our special team. After the coaches cooked breakfast, Mills Morris gave an impactful devotion on communicating. He focused on how his own journey with his surgery led him to realize the value of communicating -- with people and, most importantly, with God.

We then headed to The Hitting Academy to practice. We stayed outside to acclimate to the heat and were able to find joy in slipping into our usual routines.

After a good seafood lunch, it was time for Beach Olympics. Events today were hole digging and the relay race, which tested all sorts of physical and mental toughness. Players Nicholas Stinson, Zayne Stratchan, Josh Clay, and Gustavo Melgar cooked the first player-cooked dinner. Burgers, dogs, beans, chips were on the menu, and as I write this, all are alive and healthy. They did a fantastic job!

Finally came the true core of our team. Each player had been tasked to bring a brick, with their name, a word that represents them, and Bible verse. The team activity culminated in our players literally building a wall, showing our solidarity with this season. Blake Dean concluded our night with a deeply personal and reflective devotion. His life journey and raw look at how he has overcome challenges reminded us that God is in control.

Tomorrow we begin working with Habitat!

Sunday, March 26Where to begin on this day. It’s a special opportunity to take time to “Live Sent” with a group of young men that share the common bond of baseball. God has been at the wheel as the boys were surprised by our driver for the week, William Heitz! Incredibly special moment as none of the players knew he would be driving. The cargo van was literally packed to the top, and the boys were in safe hands on the way down.

After a couple stops, the group has descended upon the Cay Pointe Villas in Clearwater. A 7 hour trip was rewarded with some well deserved beach time and an absolutely stunning sunset. Not to allow the surprises to stop, the boys unveiled their “special” spring term t-shirts, complete with a dance number (no video was taken), of Coach Navarro.

In a special tribute to his grandparents by Coach Moore and Coach Mercado’s love of cooking, they put together a low country boil which was enjoyed with some spectacular views.

After dinner, William kicked off the evening devotional series with a very pointed message from Daniel, asking how we can do better to pray and honor God in each moment. He stressed how hard our young men have it in this world with temptation, lust, distraction, and anxiety. But when we stand before the Lord, we understand that He knows we strove to seek him out. There have been few more perfect devotional settings than our team, on the beach, under the stars, hearing the heart of a man who loves God.

We are still actively seeking prayers as we look to get everyone to sleep and all our food makes it the night. Tomorrow will bring some unique opportunities as our players begin to take the lead on the devotions.

Additionally, we prepare to serve with Habitat for Humanity who is tasking our group with working across three work sites.

Side note: We made a Costco run and have successfully kept the group fed. There are few victories sweeter than hearing teenage boys declare themselves full.