How does a kid born and raised an hour west of Boston, MA, who spent the rest of his formative years an hour north of Dallas, TX, come to live and serve in a Midwestern city like Fort Wayne, IN? While the entire journey is too long to expect you to read, the way that my life has, step by step, brought me from those two places to this one leaves me no doubt that any life worth living is driven by a greater purpose. Here are a few highlights that might interest you:
Boston, Massachusetts | Family
From birth until age twelve, I lived just towns away from nearly all of mother’s immediate family. I remember big family meals at the grandparents’ house and my brother and I shooting pool with older cousins in their house’s game room. I’m genetically predisposed to love the Red Sox, the Patriots, the Bruins, and my grandfather’s Celtics (they’ll be back), and the biggest moment of my life was when I went back to Grandma’s during college and wasn’t relegated to the kids’ table.
Dallas, Texas | Faith
Right before I entered High School, my parents lifted our roots and planted them in the dustier terrain of McKinney, Texas. A new place, a new people, in McKinney I found a new start and a new sport to focus on. In Boston, I was a hockey player. Sure, I played all the travel sports one could play, but hockey was the first love. With hockey rinks in slightly lower supply in the Texas heat, I had to find out where I could use my skill set. I was big, and I didn’t mind running into people. Turns out, that’s all you need to be an Offensive Lineman.
That first year in Texas introduced me to more than just football, though. Through teammates, I was also introduced to a local church and through that church, I met Jesus. While I didn’t understand it then, that moment in 1999 was the single greatest life-changing moment of my entire life. Every step, word, thought, and breath since has been taken, spoken, thought, and breathed with a newfound purpose because, “Whether [I] live or die, [I] belong to the Lord.”
South Bend, IN | Football
Well, I ended up being pretty good at football. In 2002, I was rated as the #1 Center in the nation, and accepted a scholarship to attend my dream school, The University of Notre Dame. My college years were those that deepened my faith and increased my ability to speak my faith through and from the pedestal that football provided. My locker room experiences brought me shoulder to shoulder with different faith and cultural backgrounds, and increased both my love for people different than me and for the unity that can be found through the simple love of a game.
In 2006, my father passed away from cancer rather unexpectedly and I was faced with a choice of pursuing his dream of playing in the NFL or my own dream of sharing the hope and life of the gospel as often as I could through teaching, coaching, and mentoring young people. A few weeks before my dad passed away, I was able to share that life with him, and received his blessing to follow my own path, so my choice was made pretty easily at that time.
Mishawaka & Fort Wayne, IN | Following
After taking my helmet off for the last time as a college football player, I took an internship at Grace Church in Granger, IN. I worked as a ministry intern and was later hired as a Middle School Pastor. I learned the life of ministry on the fly, and realized that I desperately needed some practical education to be ready for a long-term commitment to ministry, so I went back to school, and later to work at Bethel College as a Residential Director.
For four years, I worked with and for the most amazing people, as I learned under the tutelage of some of the smartest people I’ve ever encountered. I made lifelong friends, graduated with my Master’s degree, won a few intramural flag football championships, and met my wife. Heather and I were married in 2010, lived in the dorms at Bethel for two years (she is a mighty Godly woman), and announced the birth of our son, Seeley, before we were called to serve at Avalon Missionary Church in the Spring of 2012.
Since that time, I have been the Pastor of Student Ministries at Avalon Missionary Church in Fort Wayne, IN. Heather cares for and teaches Seeley during her days at home, and is getting ready to welcome our newest addition, a little girl, into the world. When I am not working at the church or meeting with students around Fort Wayne, I can be found working at Athletes with Purpose, coaching Offensive and Defensive Linemen who are trying to become better football players and better young men. My passion is simply in coaching, whether coaching a player how to drive block or coaching a student how to read the scriptures. I love to coach and help people be more than they’ve ever thought they could be.