Tennis Player Finds Love

Ashley's teammates invite her to join them for AIA, planting seeds and helping lead her to Christ.

  • by Jan Stewart
Photos by Lisa Ashton and Lori Stockwell

Ashley Stockwell, a Michigan State University sophomore on the tennis team, loves her sport. Traveling with the Spartans for matches from California to Florida, she has gotten to know her coach and teammates well.

So when she struggled with disappointment over the difficult breakup of a 5-year relationship and a family illness, a few teammates recommended she come with them to meetings of Athletes in Action, Cru’s sports ministry. She began to visit the weekly gatherings.

A few weeks later, Ashley met with Beth Fittery, a Cru staff member, at a coffee shop. Beth asked Ashley if she wanted a relationship with Christ. Ashley said, “I’ve gone to church all my life but I don’t know what it means to have a relationship.” The whole idea of a personal relationship with Christ was new to her. But that night, she prayed with Beth and accepted Christ.

When they returned to Ashley’s dorm, Beth texted her roommate Shelley Godwin, the women’s assistant tennis coach, telling her that Ashley had accepted Christ. Shelley and one of the other staff member interns left the basketball game they were at and went to the dorm to celebrate with Ashley.

As the girls were jumping up and down, Shelley gave Ashley a hug and said, “I’m so glad that you’re a part of the family.” She wanted her to know that this was the most important decision of her life and encouraged her in that. Ashley was surprised that they came to the dorm, but later she told her friends how much that had meant to her.

Now she meets every Monday with Beth and goes through Foundations, a set of materials to help Ashley grow in her new faith. When they first began meeting, Ashley told Beth she was only 50% sure of her salvation. “But by the end of reading the Bible, I learned that I can go 100% and that I have a spot in heaven,” she says.

While she still loves tennis, Ashley has now found a deeper love in Christ.