Fifth Day of CrossTraining Christmas

Many of us are familiar with the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. The English Christmas carol recalls the 12 days within the season of Christmas and a different gift for each day. What you may not know is that this song is said to have been a mnemonic device to help Christian children recall certain parts of their faith during a time of religious oppression and persecution in England.

In sharing the CrossTraining story for 2016 and into 2017, we thought we would develop our own 12 Stories of CrossTraining to correspond with the 12 Days of Christmas. And so, today, on the fifth day of Christmas, we share our fifth day of CrossTraining Christmas and our fifth story…sing or hum along with us —

On the fifth day of CrossTraining Christmas, my true love gave to me…

five different focus areas

CrossTraining currently serves four unique communities but each of those communities represents a larger number of people. We have found it helpful to break those communities down into five different areas: athletes, coaches, staff, alumni, and families. (Sometimes we serve a sixth – fans! but we are trying to stick with the theme here). Just briefly we share what ministry to each focus area looks like —

Focus Area 1 – Athletes

Greg Dalby (former Rapids midfielder); Fifth Day of CrossTraining ChristmasThanks to the pioneering work and efforts of our predecessors like Athletes in Action and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, CrossTraining works intimately with the athletes of the different communities we serve. Pre-game prayers, weekly devotional times, pre-surgery visitations, conversation over a cup of coffee, career and college guidance, help with the mental and emotional pressures and strains from performance-based environments — these are just some of the ways that CrossTraining chaplains and counselors serve the athletes. We work with everyone from academy (under-12) age up to the pro’s.

Some unique considerations of this focus area you can pray about:

  • a “pro” at the USL level can make as little as $500/month on an 8-month contract (with a housing subsidy)
  • the average length of stay with a professional team is around 18 months (soccer)
  • pro athletes are often faced with retirement and second career choices at ages as young as 22 – 34 years of age
  • some pro athletes have no college degree or other skills to fall back on

Focus Area 2 – Coaches

The typical life-span or length of stay of a coach can tend to be a little longer than the athlete for a number of reasons. On average, coaches in Major League Soccer tend to have three year-contracts and usually build up a staff with trusted assistants. Winning and losing aren’t the only pressures that coaches face — they also have the task of managing people. From high-profile athletes to front-office executives, coaches must be skilled in the area of relationship and time-managment. A particular owner or executive may want a team to play a certain way or to see star players help fill the stadium. A coach has to manage the attitudes  and look for the next interests of the team and the organization and when things go awry, the coach is usually the one to suffer blame.

Some unique considerations of this focus area you can pray about:

  • some coaches have had little investment into their management or leadership skills
  • often times a coach can feel paralyzed or helpless to help an athlete struggling off the field with personal issues
  • coaches often have a closed “circle of trust” because of wounds from previous relationships

Focus Area 3 – Staff

Fifth Day of CrossTraining Christmas

An athletic trainer  is part of the staff served by CrossTraining.

Here are the soldiers – they show up day after day, work 8-5 and even longer hours in season. The staff are comprised of entry-level ticket-sale agents, part-time event stewards and guards, public and community relations staff, cleaning crews, and many more roles that go into a professional sports team and organization. The staff are usually the ones working hard to make sure that a fan’s experience at a game or event is the best. Rarely, are staff appreciated. Rarely, are staff recognized. Usually, they are “just there.” But as CrossTraining serves these communities we look to serve and care for the staff just as much as the athletes and coaches. From an early-morning bible study or a counseling session, we serve the staff in many of the same ways we serve the athletes and coaches.

Focus Area 4 – Alumni

Who cares about you when you aren’t a star anymore? CrossTraining does and the extension of our services are applied to alumni – whether they were athletes, coaches, or staff with the organization before. Our chaplaincy and counseling care is offered to them in perpetuity. From officiating at a funeral or wedding to offering ongoing counseling, CrossTraining values the relationships made and looks to continue to serve or connect people into other healthy and vibrant relationships and communities in the years that follow a person’s time with the organization.

Focus Area 5 – Families

Professional sport is a difficult environment for the families of the afore mentioned groups — athletes and coaches spend countless hours on the road and away from home during the season, staff members often have long and late hours in the office to make that final sale, get a story published, or clean a stadium after a match, many marriages (nearly 80%) and families end up breaking up at some point because of the demands and pressures of the professional sports environment. CrossTraining looks to serve and speak life into the families that are represented by these different focus areas. Sometimes its a simple card or note of encouragement, sometimes its a pastoral or clinical counseling moment, sometimes its a handshake or hug at a game to let them know that we are there for them, too.

Please pray with us for the different people represented by these five focus areas and the communities that CrossTraining serves.

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