Fearless Freshmen

Bold football players share their faith with teammates and coaches.

By Ashley Tripp   |  9 December 2013
Fearless Freshmen (main photo)
Photos by Jeffery Uleau.
Fearless Freshmen (sidebar photo)

Alex Tonnies #10 and Aaron Channing #8.

3 freshman football players at Kutztown University initiated a Bible study for their teammates every Saturday morning before each game.

Cru staff member Jeff Eshenour said this idea was something God had laid on their hearts. This is Cru’s first semester with the university in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.

Among the students who showed up to the weekly meetings were Alex Tonnies, Aaron Channing and Harrison Burch, all freshman football players.

“On Fridays, the team had what’s called a ‘walk through’ where we reviewed plays, watched film and received an itinerary for the Saturday games,” Alex said. “Aaron, Harrison and I asked the head coach permission to include an optional Bible study in the itinerary.”

To Alex’s excitement, Head Coach Drew Folmar agreed.

“It was definitely nerve-wracking to say the least,” Alex said. “The 3 of us didn’t know where to start as far as material, but we definitely wanted to try to keep the Bible study as general as possible, with a gospel-centered emphasis. We also opened up an invitation for them to come to Cru’s weekly meetings.”

Alex said the Bible study certainly made progress throughout the football season as teammates started showing up and sharing their own personal stories.

“God has given me the platform of football to witness to my teammates,” Alex said. “I really think God placed me at this university to witness to people and spread his word.”

Not only did Alex receive positive feedback from his teammates, but also from his wide receiver coach.

“My coach started showing up to the Bible studies, which has been a huge blessing since he told me he is an outspoken atheist,” Alex said. “He actually texted me the other day asking to go through a Bible verse every week. I bought him a Bible a couple months ago. It was incredible that he wanted one and accepted it. Everyday the Holy Spirit is working, and I’d hope to be a part of him being saved.”

Jeff said it has been encouraging to watch Alex grow in his relationship with his coach as well as with Christ. Jeff meets once a week with Alex for mentoring and training in his faith.

“He’s been incredible as a mentor and I’m so grateful he is taking me under his wing,” Alex said. “Jeff showed me how to go out and start conversations about Jesus. He encourages me to be bold in my faith, especially with my teammates, guiding me along the way.”