Center Grove Football

A Treasured Summer.

The 2015 summer calendar was full of opportunities to serve for CGHS football players and other CG athletes. Hundreds of them jumped at the chance. From participating in CampAbility, a field day for children with special needs, to joining a home repair mission team in the mountains of Appalachia, to serving as volunteer coaches with In Jesus Name We Play sports camps (founded by two Center Grove football players), and volunteering with iCanBike, CG athletes hold treasured memories from a summer of service.

A Treasured Summer.
CG athletes learn a lifetime of lessons during a summer of service.

The summer of 2015 is one Tyler Boyer, junior wide receiver for the Center Grove Trojans, will remember for a lifetime because it was the summer he and so many others, in his words, “GOT to serve.” “I found out that serving is really about creating relationships with people and that is really cool.”

Boyer said “yes” to every opportunity to serve this summer. “There’s always a need to be filled. For example, when we went to Appalachia, there were physical needs. There was a roof to be repaired and a staircase to be built. But in every case, there was a relationship that needed to be built first, and that was really important.”

IMG_4552Trent Line, another member of the Trojans’ wide receiver corps explains it this way: “Earthly possessions just go away. Money can be spent and lost, but making a difference in the lives of others, loving others, can make a huge impact on their lives and maybe even change their eternity.”

Line and junior CG linebacker, Sam Bolin co-founded In Jesus Name We Play, a sports camp ministry designed to “…empower teens through service and inspire children through play.” After several months of planning and preparation, the duo launched their first summer of sports camps in 2015, with 8 days of camps manned by 62 CGHS athletes as volunteer coaches.

IMG_4385“We hope In Jesus Name We Play sports camps give teens and kids the opportunity to build relationships, have a great time, make a ton of memories and grow in their faith and friendships,” Bolin said.

“Having the chance to help with In Jesus Name We Play was an honor,” shares Bailey Bennett, outside linebacker for the Trojans. “Helping all the kids with the sports and seeing the smiles on their faces made me even happier than they were! It was truly an experience I will never forget.”

Carleigh Hardin, CGHS basketball and tennis player also volunteered at the sports camps. “My favorite memory from serving this summer was seeing the kids’ faces light up when we would come and play with them,” Hardin recalls. “They had the biggest smiles that would make IMG_8330your heart warm. This experience really impacted me and reinforced my desire to become a pediatric nurse. Serving God and working with children has always had a special place in my heart.

Boyer has a special place in his heart for a young man he met while serving in Appalachia with a New Hope Church mission team. “Jake is 13 years old. His father had just been released from an 8-year jail sentence. He was out of work because the coal mines are shutting down. His mom is in jail now and his uncle has been on the run from authorities because of a domestic abuse charge. But Jake’s innocence and optimism was beyond anything I could understand.”

At the beginning of the week, Jake would peek around corners to watch the team jack-up and level his house, repair stairways, install guttering and more. By the end of the week, Boyer and the young man had become fast friends.

IMG_4940“On the last day,” Boyer recalls, “it was 11 o’clock at night, rain was pouring down like a monsoon and we had just finished installing a door. Jake called me over to show me a treasure he said he had never shown anyone else in the world.”

Boyer paused to catch his emotions.

“Jake held up a pin, the kind you wear on a lapel. ‘This was my grandfather’s. It’s my birth rite,’ Jake explained. ‘I want you to have it.’ I couldn’t believe he wanted me to have his treasured possession. I just broke down.”

This summer, Boyer, Bolin, and Line, and 17 other CGHS athletes also volunteered for iCanBike, a 2-hour-a-day, week-long program with unique technology and training to help individuals with special needs learn to ride a bike. It IMG_0968was at iCanBike that Bolin (well-known for his high energy approach to life) met his match: 8-year-old Dylan, an even bigger bundle of energy who isn’t afraid to tell you “I almost died,” born months premature and weighing in at just over 1 pound.

“Dylan both literally and figuratively ran me over,” Bolin recalls. “He’s a great big light in this world, that’s for sure.” After a week of bike riding, the program was over, but the friendship wasn’t.

IMG_6056“I try to see him as much as I can,” says Bolin. The two have been swimming, play video games together, and recently Dylan visited a Bible study Bolin hosts at his home on Saturday nights. Dylan could also be spotted in the stands as well as sporting Bolin’s shoulder pads on the field after the CG vs. Whiteland game.

“Dylan lives and loves life as though he had no challenges at all,” Bolin says with admiration.

A lesson we can all take away from a treasured summer of service.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login