TBC Eagles Give Back in Palm Coast

In October, the Trinity Baptist College Eagles from Jacksonville, Florida participated in two large NCCAA events.

The National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) is an association of Christ-centered collegiate institutions whose mission is to use athletic competition as an integral component of education, evangelism, and encouragement.  

TBC joined the NCCAA in 2011. 

Every regional and national NCCAA event requires participating teams to play an active role in Christian service projects in the area.  TBC Athletic Director John Jones says the Eagles have served in a variety of venues through the NCCAA. “When we come into a community and have a game, it’s about more than the game; we want to impact the community.  We’ve gone into missions, supplied new shoes to underprivileged kids, visited senior citizen homes, all sorts of things.”

On October 17, the NCCAA invited the TBC Eagles to participate in a sports clinic benefitting the youth of the City of Palm Coast.

The Eagles coordinated with Chick-fil-A, Palm Coast Parks and Rec, and NCCAA athletes to host this event.  The focus of the sports clinic is to share the gospel, help fine-tune athletic skills, and provide positive role models.

Youth could participate in their choice of soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball, or golf. The kids teamed up with professional and collegiate athletes who led drills, scrimmages, and taught new skills the whole morning.  

Two 15-passenger vans full of student athletes and coaches from TBC (plus piles of equipment) packed up and headed south that Saturday morning. 

Among them were Raven Buytas and Marilyn Smith, both student assistants on the TBC Eagles volleyball team.

Raven Buytas is a Sophomore in the Secondary Ed Special Education program at TBC; this is her second season playing volleyball for the TBC Eagles.  Marilyn is a freshman in the Interdisciplinary Studies program and is the team manager.  Together, they coached the volleyball segment of the sports clinic.

Raven was excited to be part of the event this year.

“In the past, my schedule didn’t work out for me to be part of it, so this was my first year participating.  I loved it.  My favorite part was probably the diversity of kids that came out – all ages, interests, and skill levels.”  One person in specific stood out to her.  “This one young boy – about 9 years old – wanted to play volleyball.  He was so confident – not bothered that it was just him and like 15 girls.  And he was killing it.  He said his family all played volleyball, and I could tell.”

Even though Raven was there to coach the kids and develop their skills, she found out that the event challenged her as well.

“It was neat to see all different ages come out.  I actually had a 6-year-old join us!  But it also stretched me to find ways to get everyone engaged in something they could do. We were also on a sand volleyball court (which was awesome, by the way) which challenged me to adapt.”

Marilyn thinks the kids were enjoying it just as much as she was and hopes she can return next year.  

“They were really grateful for what we were doing.  One girl even told me, ‘Within the first five minutes you’ve taught us more than we’ve ever learned before.’  Of course, that made me feel good, but I think that also speaks to the fact that we have good coaches who are teaching us well, so that was exciting for me.  I am really hoping to do this again.  The next clinic is scheduled for March, and I really hope I get to be a part of it again.”

The NCCAA’s annual Pro-Am Dinner took place at the Hammock Beach Resort on October 25.

TBC AD John Jones and women’s basketball team captain Selena Perez were invited to speak to 200 key donors and supporters of the NCCAA at their annual Pro-Am Dinner. 

This is an honor as this is the first time that Pro-Am has invited representatives to speak directly to donors.  Pro-Am is a long-established event in Palm Coast. Many successful individuals who support the mission of NCCAA attend this special occasion.  The above-mentioned sports clinic was born out of Pro-Am’s desire to positively impact and enrich the lives of Palm Coast residents. 

Coach Jones nominated student athlete Selena Perez to speak at the dinner.

Selena shared what the NCCAA means to our student-athletes, noting the life-changing opportunities to participate in Christian Service Projects when attending regional and national tournaments.  Exposure to the hands-on and administrative side of these events can be inspiring and eye-opening for many college students who have dreams of giving back to their communities.  

“It wasn’t my first time speaking in public, but never to such a big group or such a formal event.  I was so out of my comfort zone, but it was a great experience.  I also coached basketball during the clinic the week before, and thoroughly enjoyed that.  It’s so much fun to see the kids learn something new.” 

Selena is captain of the TBC Eagles women’s basketball team and a senior in the elementary education program.   She is looking forward to her teaching internship next semester and excited to continue building her resume in both her fields of interest.

AD Jones highlighted the importance of the NCCAA’s Christ-centered mission.

Jones appreciates how their mission aligns with TBC’s purpose and vision for student athletes. Over the years, John Jones has observed how the sports clinic has reinforced TBC values in a very practical way and has inspired the Eagles to dream big. 

“For our student athletes, this is an opportunity to give back.  Many of them were impacted by events like this when they were young.  An older player poured into them or they were inspired to pursue an athletic dream; some of them were introduced to the gospel for the first time through this kind of event.  Some of them never had that experience but still gain so much from participating.   Sometimes it can feel like a sacrifice to give up their Saturday for this.  But by the end of the day they all come back saying, “wow – that’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.  It just one of those things… it makes you feel so good to do things for others.” 

Students get to be role models while teaching kids athletic skills.

Jones is excited for the students who take advantage of the opportunities presented to them through events like these.

“Students can really inspire the kids they work with. Kids look up to those student athletes who coach them, and often their parents stick around to watch.  Parents love to see their kids learn and grow and it can impact them as well.”

The students also learn how to show the love of Christ through the avenue of athletics. 

Events like these often provide opportunities for gospel conversations afterward. Coach Jones has equipped student-athletes with a simple way to re-direct the conversation to a focus on Christ. 

“We have a gospel tract we put together several years ago with the help of Dr. Cash.  The front and back has the team information and season schedule and the inside has an explanation of the gospel.  We use them all that time; people get curious to know where we’re from and why we’re doing this. It’s an easy way to get something in their hands to read later even if they don’t want to talk about it right then.”

We are thankful for programs like the NCCAA that come alongside TBC in our mission to strengthen students for service, purpose, and leadership.  It is through opportunities like these that our students are able to experience hands-on experience before they even graduate.  This translates into graduates who have a clear understanding of their gifts and abilities and exposure to a variety of paths available to them as they step into their future.

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