by Mandy Pennington
This year’s Greenville College baseball team comprised 34 men — 30 players and four coaches — who are dedicated to their sport and to the Lord. The team held regular devotions together throughout the year, and had three annual meetings for team bonding and fellowship. As in years past, they travelled to Florida over spring break to play eight games.
his year’s team theme was based on 1 John 4:18, particularly on the phrase “perfect love casts out fear.” The team’s coaches encouraged the players to keep this verse in mind while playing, fellowshipping, and interacting with those around them. “Change starts at the top. The coaches have been great about leading discussions about PLCOF with us and making sure that it’s at the core of who we are as a team,” said junior Caleb Watts. “I think that both the team and myself derive a couple of meanings from our phrase ‘Perfect love casts out fear,’” he continued. “One of the things that it means to us as a team is that we don’t have to be fearful of what outcomes may occur. We can simply sit back and love our teammates and love the process of preparing week after week, so we can complete what it is God has prepared us to do.”
Senior Phillip Reedy agreed, saying, “‘Perfect love casts out fear’ means that even as flawed people, we have an opportunity to love people like Christ does — and his love is perfect. We’re not gonna do it right every time, but that’s our goal.” The team grew together as a tight-knit group of men focused on loving each other and those on opposing teams, as well as playing to the best of their ability to honor God.
This semester, the players concentrated on ridding themselves of the fear of losing. “We don’t go into games worrying about whether we are going to win or lose, and because of that, we can play free and easy, and there’s not as much pressure when we’re performing,” Caleb explained. “The love from our teammates and our love for the game allows us to play without fear, which makes the game so much more pure and enjoyable.”
“In love, there is trust,” Phillip continued. “We should wholly trust in Christ because he never fails us. When we love each other in a Christ-like way as a team, trust is a key component.” The team became so close that they learned to trust one another, both on and off the field. “You know that when the goin’ gets tough, your teammates have your back,” Phillip said. “Then the pressure is off. This kind of love is more than trust. It’s serving, respecting, honoring, patient, and so much more.”
This year, the team welcomed new members who brought a fresh perspective and personality to the team. “Honestly, this year has been so much fun because of all the new personalities that are on the team,” Caleb said. “Getting to know each and every one of the new guys has been an absolute blast.” The team thrives year to year through the upperclassmen taking an interest in the younger, newer members. This acceptance and support comes from the idea that God is their all, and that they have nothing to fear. “This year was great for me because I love my teammates and they make all of the tough times worth it,” Phillip said. “I can’t think of a better group of guys to finish the last of my 17 years of baseball with than these men.”
Greenville College is fortunate to have such a Christ-centered, hard-working baseball team led by caring and talented coaches. The team worked together to build one another up and played to the best of their abilities. It all comes down to not fearing the outcome, and to finding strength in God. “Above all, PLCOF is a declaration of our faith to God,” Caleb said. “If we truly believe that our skills are not our own and that they have been given to us by God, then we should have no doubts in those God-given abilities.”
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” – 1 John 4:16-18