Thursday, October 20, 2016

An Athlete's Truth - Ronneil Herron

        We have a very special treat to hear from a very good friend of mine named Ronneil Herron. Ronneil has been a friend of mine for many years and has been an incredible example of what it means to be Coached in Truth. He has an incredible story to share and I know everyone who takes the time to read it will be inspired by his character and his relentless pursuit to love God. Here is a quick bio on Ronneil, followed by his story and his definition of what it means to be Coached in Truth.

Ronneil Herron’s Bio

        In high school I played basketball, baseball and football up until my sophomore year.  During my junior and senior year, I focused on basketball and baseball.  I earned a few individual accolades in basketball my junior and senior year, but as a team we weren’t that good.  I had the privilege of being the starting 2nd basemen my sophomore, junior and senior year on the varsity baseball team.  Our teams won back to back state championships my junior and sophomore year.  As a student I maintained a 4.17 GPA.  At Syracuse University, I had the privilege of playing collegiate ball between 2000 and 2004.  And in 2003, I was fortunate enough to be on the team that won a national championship.  As a student, I majored in Electrical Engineering and earned a B.S. degree in 2003.  After graduating I attempted to play ball overseas but after weighing my options, I chose to pursue a career in electrical engineering and I’m currently working for an electrical utility as a system planner.

Like my father was, and how my son is now, I’ve always been drawn to sports.  As far back as I can remember, I had some kind of ball in my possession or I was outside playing some kind of sport in the neighborhood.  At a young age, I was fascinated by the competition associated playing a sport and the idea that there’s always room for improvement, which has been a concept that has tremendously helped me outside of sports.  
I say this with great humility, but growing up, I was that kid that naturally played sports well and excelled above my peers.  By nature, I’m a pretty even keeled individual who isn’t easily excited.  However, whenever I participate in anything involving athletics, there is focus and peace that overtakes me and I know I’m in my element.  There’s an aggression in how I play that displays itself.  There’s a level of confidence knowing that I’ve been entrusted with certain talents.  There’s a push to healthily be better than whoever I’m competing against.  There’s a focus that wants to triumph beyond circumstances and be victorious.  There’s a peaceful joy being able to express myself through the athleticism loaned to me.  
Growing up, I knew that I was good at sports, and folks would often vocalize it, but thankfully it never filled my head.  I attribute that to my parents keeping me grounded and helping me to keep a healthy perspective that just because your good at something, it doesn’t equate to you being better than anyone.  My parents never directly shared Biblical scriptures with me, but they would share Biblical principles.  And one of them was to in humility, consider others better than myself (Philippians 2: 3).  Another concept that kept me humble growing up was the fact that at any point, I could face someone who was better than or just as good as me.  I don’t know exactly how I gained this perspective at an early age, but I do know that this is something God wove into my heart.  So as a result, I enjoyed practicing and taking time by myself to improve my skill sets.  Now, I can’t say that I’ve always had a good work ethic.  In the later parts of middle school and early on in high school, I began to not train as much because I could rely on my athletic ability.  However, as those I played against began to get stronger and more explosive as result of maturing and training, I couldn’t just be more athletic than my competition.  I had to start consistently training my body in order to compete.
I’m grateful that I was surrounded by coaches and mentors,who helped me to mature physically and in the process, helped me to mature in my character.  When I had to start lifting weights consistently and doing drills to help improve my quickness and explosiveness, I was not a big fan.  I enjoyed training, but as we all know, it’s not always pleasant pushing our bodies to new limits.  But in learning to do so, I learned the importance of denying myself (not giving up) so that fruit could be born (maturing physically and mentally).  And those who trained me always told me the truth, but it was done out of carefor my well-being.  I think being constructively criticized at an early age definitely helped me to embrace input given by others as I got older and to not take it personal so I could digest what was being presented to me and grow from it accordingly (Proverbs 19: 20-21…….Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails).
Coming out of high school, I had a few offers to play collegiate basketball at smaller programs in California (UC Davis and Sacramento State).  I was also offered an opportunity to play minor league baseball with the Milwaukee Brewers.  But in my pride, I didn’t want to play at a smaller program and the big name schools weren’t checking for a 5’11’ guard who only weighed 143 lbs.  And I never knew about the opportunity to play minor league baseball until weeks after my high school graduation.  The scouts were communicating with my parents who told them that I was going to college and if they were interested in signing me, that’d have to wait until after I completed a degree in college.  This was a decision my parents and I made when I was in the 8th grade and started to get noticed by scouts.  But as a 18 year old kid, I was blown when my mom finally told me about the offer because I felt like I had missed out on a golden opportunity.
Since I wasn’t getting recruited in basketball by any big names schools, and I couldn’t play baseball professionally, I decided to go to Georgia Tech to major in electrical engineering.  Well, my financial aid paper work ended up falling through and so I was left with studying electrical engineering at my second choice of school’s……Syracuse University.  While at SU, I had no plans of trying to play basketball but the more I went to the gym to hoop for fun my freshman year, the more I heard folks telling me that I should try and walk on to the team.  After one of my floor mates told me that he was going to try out for the team and needed a workout partner, I figured I might as well try out.  After all, what did I have to lose?  Long story short, I ended up not making the team.  After the tryout was over, I was pulled aside by one of the assistant coaches and told that if they were to keep any one as a walk-on, it would have been me.  But I needed to get in better shape and put on some weight.  So with that motivation and a lot of help from a good friend, I trained the rest of my freshman year and the beginning of my sophomore year so that I could be ready for the tryouts again in October.  And thankfully the work that was put in paid off as I was offered a spot as a walk-on.
Being a walk-on was rewarding but yet humbling at the same time.  I was grateful to be able to play a sport I loved at the collegiate level, but I also had to work just as hard as a scholarship player knowing that I probably wouldn’t play all that much.  And so there was a constant battle within me.  I knew that as long as I was on the team, I needed to be improving as a basketball player.  And I wanted the opportunity to play in games.  But I also knew that my role was to push the scholarship players and get them game ready.  So there were times that I would question whether or not it was beneficial to be on the team knowing that I was less likely to play significant minutes in games.  But thankfully I didn’t allow my pride to get the best of me and I had folks around me to remind me just how special of an opportunity I had.  As luck would have it, the work I was putting in was being noticed and during my junior year, I, along with another walk-on, was going to be offered scholarships.  We were both starting to get more reps with the 1st team during the pre-season.  However, before the season began, one of our teammates was dismissed from the team and another one transferred.  As a result, our program was penalized by putting a hold on scholarship offers.  So the scholarship I thought I was going to receive was no longer an option.   Naturally, I was blown away when the coaches broke the news to us.  But it didn’t deter me from maximizing the opportunity I had been given. Being a walk-on taught me many things.  Pushing past my desires and wants and doing what’s best for the betterment of others was one of them.  That same principle is something I go back to as I attempt to lead my family.
I am eternally grateful for the men and women God has put in my life to help keep me grounded and view myself through sober lenses.  Unfortunately, not everyone has a support system where the development of your character outweighs the development of your physical abilities.  When you’re good at anything, there’s always a temptation to start feelin’ yourself and believe that you deserve the praises of others.  I know I did and still can.  And we all know, sports are no different.  But just like in life, tough or difficult times don’t necessarily built character, they more expose the inner fiber of our beings. Thankfully God has used sports to help expose, shape, mold, and refine my character to help equip me for this thing called life and live it truthfully!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

An Athlete's Truth - Travis Hawkins

I am so incredibly blessed to have the friends that I have. I know people from all over the place who are doing incredible things to glorify God. With that being said, it is my honor to introduce to you our guest writer for this weeks segment of "An Athlete's Truth", Travis Hawkins. There is a short bio about Travis at the bottom of this post if you would like to know a few more details about him but I can tell you that Travis is an amazing man of God and a fantastic athlete. He has been seen as a spiritual leader for his team on and off the field. He has an incredible story to share! I am so grateful he has taken the time to write for us so that he can share about some of his experiences as an athlete who is trying to glorify God. He is great example of what it looks like to be Coached in Truth! Thank you Travis for all that you do to glorify God with your abilities and thank you for taking the time to share with us how you have done that.

An Athlete's Truth by Travis Hawkins

Every morning when I wake up, I think back to my time as a student athlete. Having the opportunity to play football and run track in college is something that I will never forget. From the 5 am practices, sleepless nights, to the smell of the freshly cut grass, and all the way to the thousands of roaring fans cheering me on. These are the memories and moments that I will never forget.

Every fan sees an athlete perform on that particular day — but they see is just the tip of the iceberg. They can’t fathom the sacrifices the athlete has made to get to that point. It starts with the moments of deep discouragement and failing in practice. It continues with the mental perseverance to overcome a tired body that is being pushed by a tireless coach. Then you lose track of the hours of studying plays. It all goes on with trying to out best your closest teammate for a final roster spot. All of these moments have created the athlete that you see standing anxiously waiting to compete against another opponent who has endured the same hardships — and the only difference is the color of his uniform. As these two athletes collide and compete one will stand victorious at the end, while the other will hang their head in defeat knowing that their effort wasn't good enough.

As I recall my time as a collegiate athlete I can't help but remember all of those feelings and hardships I faced. But I haven’t even mentioned the single biggest challenge I faced — namely, the spiritual battle I woke up to day after day. From the second I opened my eyes, Satan prowled around like a roaring lion looking to devour me as I tried to compete athletically and keep progressing spiritually. Though I only had 4 years to compete at the collegiate level, Satan knew his time was shorter. Within those 4 years Satan’s assignment was to turn my face from the living God and make me see the desires of the flesh in the most appealing way possible.

As I walked around the university going from class to class with the name "athlete" across my forehead, I was not just an ordinary student. Somehow I had been given a pedestal without even asking for it. I was expected to be the center of attention, consume the desires of impurity, taste the feelings of my sinful nature, and eat up Satan's lies. I was expected to have the "baddest" girlfriend, be the best at every drinking game, and get high on every occasion. I would be a weirdo if I turned down sex, and a "square" if I didn't attend parties. With a world waiting in expectation and a devil thirsting for my every mistake, there was still a God waiting in confidence that I would embrace his throne of Grace.

Without a doubt trying to live for God in college was the hardest thing I've ever had to do! Every day it was a battle to live righteously. I learned that society only saw my worth because I was an athlete. Spirituality was not something that was recognized on the basis of a day-to-day living. A relationship with God was just something you did on Sundays, before you ate, and before you played a game. It was not self denial, taking up the cross, or even talking about your faith. If you did that, then that meant you took "the whole religion thing too serious."

As a freshman those thoughts of being a weirdo, and being too serious about my faith started to make sense to me. I questioned myself and even thought that maybe I just need to "live life a little" and just relax. Until I got introduced to my new roommate, who happened to be a transfer football player. We started to look at the scriptures together and as I looked at the bible in hopes of trying to teach him, I realized I was teaching myself. I saw why I needed to be an athlete in college and why I need to be an athlete in college who lived for God! So many college athletes are hurting and they have no one to talk to because they are suppose to be "tough."

Throughout everything that I have faced, one thing I've learned is that living for God is better! It's better than being cool, it's better than having the most attractive girlfriend, it's better than having a lot of money, it's better than being the life of the party, and it's better than anything Satan can entice me with. Being able to share with people the hope that I have is priceless. I've found purpose in life through Christ! My biggest desire is to play in the NFL and I want it more than anything, but just like Paul said, "I count everything as rubbish for the sake of knowing Christ." This has been my first year not competing at the collegiate leve colle and there is nothing I miss more! Every day I wish I could go back and strap on my pads, but one thing I've learned is that there is a time for everything!

I've fallen thousands of times and I mess up everyday but God's grace is enough to cover my shortcomings. To whomever reads this, my encouragement and hope is that you can see the benefit in living for Christ. No matter how many touchdowns you score, races You win, shots you make, home runs you hit, or matches you win, nothing will ever compare to the victory you find in knowing Christ and sharing it with those closest to you — your teammates. Get to know Christ, and once you are equipped, reach outward and share it with the same people who are waking up at 5 am to practice with you. Share it with the person who is your backup. Share it with your coach who teaches you how to be your best. Share it with every person you come in contact, and I guarantee you, you will have a heavenly reward.

Travis Hawkins Bio

I played quarterback in High School and then transitioned to play college ball at Tuskegee University. Had some opportunities to play at some smaller schools, but there was an opportunity to help out the church, so I decided to go to Tuskegee. I walked on my first year at tuskegee, and was last on the depth chart, but at the end of the year i received a scholarship as a wide receiver. I played almost every special team, as well as the starting slot-receiver. I was fortunate enough to receive two conference championship rings as well. Now I am a student-coach at Tuskegee University, while I finish up my final classes. Went through the 2016 draft and did not get picked up. Only had offers to play overseas. I will continue to try to make it to the NFL for another year. 

Extra articles on Travis Hawkins

To all my Coached in Truth fans! If you know anyone who may be a good candidate with a background in athletics to write for "An Athlete's Truth", please allow them to see this and let them know that Coached in Truth would love to have them write for this purpose. Just have them email me at for more info!


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Where Do You Find Comfort?

   We all seek comfort in one way or the other. We all desire comfort. Why is that? Are we suppose to hopelessly wander this world until we find something that makes us feel comfortable and as soon as it doesn't, we should go and find something else? Are we created to be this way? Should comfort be such a high priority to us? We rely so heavily on different things in our lives to bring us comfort. But where does it end? Lots of money, lots of stuff, lots of relationships, or even lots of accomplishments. None of that ever seems to bring complete and total comfort. The problem of this way of thinking is that it relies so heavily on how things make us "feel". Feelings change every day, therefore, the things that comfort us today may not comfort us tomorrow. Even as an athlete we are taught to never be satisfied, to always push for the next accomplishment or the next championship. While these are all good things, someday what we go after or what we pursue will have to change because our bodies won't allow us to perform at the same level as they did before. Again, we are put in a position where we must find something else that brings us comfort and makes us "feel" good.
   I guess what I'm getting at is, when does this cycle end? I would never tell someone not to be the best they can be. I would never tell someone not to pursue their dreams, but are those the things that are supposed to comfort us? Are we supposed to ride a roller coaster of emotion until the day we die or is there something else that can fill that void. If we take a look at the life of Jesus, we do not see a life of comfort. We see a life of suffering, ridicule, persecution and difficulty. Yet at the same time we see a life of contentment, joy, peace, and trust. Check out all of these scriptures that illustrate those things!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
‭‭John‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭14:33‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:7-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:35-39‬ NIV

"“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭26:36-46‬ NIV

Of all those scriptures, Matthew 26:36-46 truly shows how Jesus got himself to being content and at peace in God's plan. Here is Jesus getting ready to endure the most difficult thing he has ever had to go through. Physical, emotional and even spiritual pain that none of us could ever imagine and yet through all of it he continues to say "Yet not as I will, but as you will." He was completely surrendered to Gods will and that was his comfort. His comfort didn't come from the situation he was in, his comfort came from his reliance and trust in God. “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Is that your attitude when faced with truth? Are you more concerned with your comfort or with doing the will of God.Boy oh boy, that is a tough question!

What things do you try and use to bring you comfort rather than being content in the Truth?

Coached in Truth