So Doug and Terry asked me to say a few words about Upward.  They told me I had about two minutes.  If you know anything about me, you know there is no chance that I’m only going to speak for two minutes.  So in honor of the Oscars being tonight there’s a good chance that Doug is going to musically play me off the stage if I go to far over my time.

Upward has been at FBC for eight years and in these eight years here are some things I’ve seen on an average Saturday afternoon.

  • I’ve had a little girl hand me the ball and told me to “hold this”, while she went back to check on a girl on the other team who had fallen down.
  • I had a boy once flip the ball to his father in the crowd while he went back to check on a fallen opponent.
  • I saw a 9 year old kid, with brand new hi-tops, a knee guard on his left knee, a head band, and a shooting sleeve on his right arm.  As we had the pre-game prayer, I commented on how much a “baller” he looked like.  “Actually,” he said to me, “I’ve never played basketball before, but I don’t want the guy covering me to know that.”
  • I saw a second grade girl try to dunk in a game . . . twice!
  • On the last game day, I saw Alan speak during halftime of the first games.  I counted 241 people in the gym.  This doesn’t include around 35 players and 10 or so coaches.  So we had nearly 300 people in our gym listening to our pastor speak at 9:00 am on a Saturday morning.
  • I had a great conversation with Joel Reynolds during halftime of the last game.  We talked about his parents and how they grew up.  Relationship building is what Upward is all about.
  • I saw a boy run off the court to hug his grandfather after he made his first basket.
  • I’ve seen players on opposite teams high five and hug after making baskets.
  • I’ve seen some of our more vertically blessed players, including our own Rebecca, Christopher, and Jake pass rebound after rebound to give scoring opportunities to their younger and more vertically challenged teammates.
  • I once saw a little boy in one of the younger games shoot a beautiful nothing but net eight footer on the bigger end zone goals?  When his coaches tried to explain to him that he needed to shoot at the six foot goals, he replied, “but this one is such a challenge.”DSC_1326

Tommy told me that we have 190 kids participating in out Upward program.  Of these 190 children, only about 40 have a connection to First Baptist Church.  If nothing else, I feel like we are doing a service in the community and adding some positive karma to FBC’s ledger that is hard to reproduce.

This season I have seen Cassie Starnes coaching against Kate Messick on one court. Gracen Blake was coaching against Rebecca Little on the other court.  Caleb Wilson, Joel Reynolds, and Joshua  Reynolds were the referees.  Rob Wells was twice as old as anyone on the court.

DSC_1152One of the great things about Upward is how much opportunity there is for our young people to be involved in leadership roles.  While Upward appreciates all volunteers, I have a little extra love in my heart for a younger volunteers.  I appreciate them so much that I’m going to mention them all now.

If you are a youth and volunteered and I miss recognizing you, please let Alan know and he will correct my errors in his next sermon.  So thank you very much: Anna, Virginia, Millicent, Gracen, Grayson, Lindsay, Cassie, Lauren, Joshua, Joshua, Joshua, Henry, Christopher, Rebecca, Kate, Adair, Hannah, Parker, Jacob, Joel, Caleb, Ryan and last but not least, our youngest volunteer Lydia Bradford who cleaned up the cafe so well that she got a tip from a nice couple a few weeks ago.

So thank you for financial support.  Thank you for your prayers.  Thank you for your time.  We had a great season.

This reflection was given by John Sample on February 28 during the 10:30 am Worship Service.  Players, Cheerleaders, Coaches, and volunteers all wore their jerseys in recognition of another great Upward season.  The 8th Upward season ended Saturday, February 27, and the year-end Celebration was held later in the afternoon on Sunday.