G-MAC rep finds her ‘Why’ at NCAA conference


INDIANAPOLIS — Former Cedarville University women’s soccer player Hannah Velloney shares her perspective from attending the NCAA Career in Sports Forum, June 1-4, as a representative of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.

The NCAA invited more than 230 current student-athletes, NCAA scholarship and grant recipients, all with an interest in working within the sports industry.

Velloney: “I am sitting at the airport after the forum, completely blown away by the experience! Thank you so much for the opportunity to attend. I learned so much about the different options available for a career in sports and also learned about myself and how God is at work in the NCAA.

“Before the forum, I prayed that the Lord would give me opportunities to connect with at least one believer from a different school, or that I would have the opportunity to share my faith with at least one person. Turns out, one of the focuses of the Forum was the question, ‘What is your WHY?’ In other words, ‘Why do you want to do the things that you desire to do?’

“In the very first session, I sat next to a football player from Baldwin-Wallace University and we immediately struck up a conversation about our core values. It was impossible for me to get through the conversation without mentioning my faith.

“The Lord immediately answered my prayer, but like He always does, He did ‘immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.’

“Before I arrived in Indianapolis, a friend from the Christian sports camp where I work texted me about her best friend who was attending. I connected with her in the opening session. From there, it seemed like the numbers kept growing.

“At dinner, we sat with a believer from Grand Canyon University and built a friendship with him. I also connected with a basketball player from Georgia Tech who is going on staff with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the fall, and a beach volleyball player from UCLA who is involved with Athletes in Action.

“In one of the panel sessions, a man named Derrick Crawford mentioned that it would be impossible for him to maintain his integrity in his profession apart from his faith. On the third day of the forum, after spending a significant amount of time with the athlete from Grand Canyon, he told me that he was almost unable to participate in the forum because his brother passed away two weeks before.

“He was struggling in his faith and asked many questions about my walk of faith. We spent almost 2 hours talking about how God works in the midst of suffering, and how sometimes it doesn’t feel like He’s there or that we’re growing. We had an honest conversation about how, even with the difficulties of Christianity, we can hope in God’s promises for eternity. “Although he still has questions and doubts, he texted me after the conference and thanked me for ‘contributing good in the world’ and encouraged me to continue spreading ‘smiles, opinions, and a positive message.’

“But, the most exciting part of the weekend was definitely those moments gathered together in prayer with other believers who just want to further the Kingdom of God. My ‘Why?’ from the past four days was solidified in those moments.

“On the last day of the conference, Coach Jason Burton from Texas A&M-Commerce returned to the question of WHY? He spoke about his faith as his WHY? as a coach.

“He quoted Luke 12:48 and Matthew 5:16, ‘Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’ His testimony encouraged my heart tremendously and gave me the courage to gather the athletes that I met during the conference.

“During our break, I asked as many as I met to gather for prayer after the closing comments. I hoped that I would also be able to ask Coach Burton and invite him to join. Even though he was tied up after speaking, his wife joined in as seven athletes gathered together to pray for his family, the NCAA, athletes, coaches and sports ministries all across the country.

“It was truly a humbling experience to gather with other believers from across the country and witness just a tiny spark of God’s work in the world of college athletics.

“Overall, the experience was amazing! I could speak more about all that I learned from a professional standpoint, the memories I made in downtown Indianapolis, the ideas I have about my own strengths, weaknesses, and future plans.

“But, the most exciting part of the weekend was definitely those moments gathered together in prayer with other believers who just want to further the Kingdom of God. My ‘Why?’ from the past four days was solidified in those moments.

“I want to work in college athletics because I believe in the power of the Gospel to transform lives. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to unite believers to confidently step out and share truth and hope with those who do not have it. I want to love and serve others in a way that demonstrates His love and is obedient to His commands for the purpose of making disciples and cultivating leaders in high school or college athletics!”


Greene County News

Hannah Velloney, a native of Chesapeake, Va., recently graduated from Cedarville University with a life science education degree. She was a two-year starting defender for the Yellow Jackets women’s soccer team before injuries cut short her career. She continued to serve as a team captain her final two seasons and was on the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

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