Inspiring Athletes

Inspiring Athletes

The Inspirational Sports Report: Stenhouse Jr., shines in Iowa, Berkman lays out the leather, and Brees puts his money where his mouth is

posted by Chad Bonham

Exciting weekend in sports with the Mavs and Heat taking 2-1 leads in their respective NBA Conference Finals, the NHL playoffs heating up, David Toms rebounding from his TPC playoff loss to win the Crowne Plaza Invitational and interleague play in the MLB kicking off. Here are a few highlights from The Inspirational Sports Report:

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., snags first NASCAR victory

In just his second full-time NASCAR Nationwide Series season, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., picked up that first career victory at Iowa Speedway’s John Deere Dealers 250 on Sunday. It was a rare chance for the Nationwide guys to take center stage as the Sprint Cup drivers had wrapped up All-Star festivities in Charlotte the night before. Stenhouse Jr., held off the only two Sprint drivers competing (Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski) in his #6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion.

Watch the final moments of Stenhouse’s big win here.

The 2010 Nationwide Rookie of the Year is finally starting to live up to high expectations but has still managed to keep his head on straight. Stenhouse Jr., does so by attending Bible studies with other drivers like Trevor Bayne, Michael McDowell and Justin Allgaier as well as chapel services led by Motor Racing Outreach.

Lance Berkman makes spectacular grab, takes one for the team

Not known for being the fleetest of foot, Cardinals right fielder Lance Berkman made a pretty spectacular grab last week during the series against his old team, the Houston Astros. Berkman spent most of his career in Houston before being traded to the Yankees midway through last season and then signing with the Cardinals this year.

Check out the catch here.

Even though Berkman has played mostly at first base, the slugger has adjusted nicely and is having one of his best seasons yet.

Drew Brees organizes player-led practices, covers some costs out of own pocket

In an interview with ESPN, New Orleans Saints quarterback revealed that he had not only been organizing player-led practices during the NFL lockout but was also paying for some of his teammates’ expenses. He discusses why he has put himself on the front line during this collective bargaining and revenue sharing debate in the following clip:

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You can also learn more about Brees’ Christian faith by watching this video produced by my good friends at FCA and Sharing the Victory magazine:

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Last week, Inspiring Athletes posed the question “Does character matter?” We’ll try to answer that in tomorrow’s blog. See you all then.

PGA young gun Rickie Fowler on being a role model and the pressure of high expectations

posted by Chad Bonham

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Back home from Fort Worth, Texas, but not before getting interview time with some of the PGA’s finest during the practice rounds and Pro-Am at the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

Today, it’s a short Q&A with 22-year old PGA star Rickie Fowler who has yet to win a tour title, but has already made a big splash as a second-year full-time pro. The 2010 PGA Rookie of the Year is doing his best to live up to some high expectations that follow an impressive amateur career and an appearance on the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Just look around at any given golf tournament and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Young golf fans follow him around the course, many of which sport his signature Puma brand flat-billed hat. Fowler is aware of it too. Here’s what he had to say about being a role model and dealing with the heavy weight of high expectations:

Rickie Fowler on the practice green at the Crowne Plaza Invitational. (Photo by Chad Bonham)

Bonham: How does it feel to be an inspiration to the next generation of young golfers?

Fowler: It’s great to be somewhat of a role model. I want to be a positive and good role model and lead by example and try to do the best I can. Playing good golf definitely draws attention but I want to have a good attitude on the course and do the right things.

Bonham: Does that attention challenge you to play the game with integrity and live your life away from the course the same way?

Fowler: Yeah, I’m definitely conscious that I’m being watched at all times. I want to be a good role model. I don’t want to be a screw-up or anything like that. I want to do the right things and set the right example.

Bonham: How much encouragement and strength do you get from the weekly Bible studies you attend while out on the tour?

Fowler: (It helps) to be around good guys. I just bumped into Ben Crane over here, one of my good buddies out on tour. (It helps) to have guys like that to hang around and guys like Bubba Watson. We recently spent a little time with Tobymac (at The PLAYERS Championship Bible study). It definitely helps to be around positive guys and guys that are out trying to do the right thing and it encourages me to do my thing.

Bonham: Do you feel any pressure knowing that you’re a younger player to whom the veterans are trying to pass the torch?

Fowler: Yes and no. There are a lot of good young players right now. Obviously I’d like to step up and be that guy. I need to play a little bit better. I definitely would like to be that guy they pass the torch down to, but I have to keep playing well, step up my game a bit and ultimately get my first win out of the way.

To learn more about Rickie Fowler, check out his official website by clicking here.

Next Monday, we’ll have a weekend sports wrap-up, plus later in the week be looking for interviews with PGA golfer Kevin Streelman and actor Ryan Merriman, star of the inspirational sports film The Fifth Quarter.

PGA FedEx Cup contender Mark Wilson on his responsibility as a Christian athlete

posted by Chad Bonham

Fort Worth, TX — Yesterday’s hot and windy outing at the Colonial Country Club yielded some short, but substantial encounters with the PGA’s finest including interviews with Mark Wilson, Kevin Streelman and Rickie Fowler as the players rubbed shoulders with amateur golfers during the Crowne Plaza Pro-Am.

For today’s Inspiring Athletes, I’ll share what Mark Wilson had to say. Wilson is having a huge season. Before 2011, he had two PGA Tour victories–a number he’s doubled less than halfway through this season. His big numbers have landed him at #3 on the FedEx Cup standings (heading into the Crowne Plaza Invitational), but his big heart and even bigger desire to live for God is what really makes this 36-year old golfer stand out.

Bonham: How important is it for the golfers to have this chance (during a Pro-Am tournament) to interact with the fans throughout the day?

Wilson: It’s unique to professional sports. In professional golf on the day before the tournament starts, amateurs get to come along and see how the course plays and play with us. You can’t do that in football or basketball. A lot of people would get hurt. So we take advantage of it and I think the amateurs see a lot of value in it.

Bonham: Talk about FCA Gameday and why it’s something that you participant in at various tournaments.

Wilson: Kevin Streelman came up with that idea a couple years ago. We usually play a practice round anyway and there are a lot of demands on our time.  So he came up with the idea where kids could walk with us during the practice round for nine holes. We’ve had as many as 60 kids at one time. I did it in L.A., this year and there was 30 kids. I think they really enjoy that. We try to interact with them as much as we can and that way we can witness to them.

Bonham: How important is it for you to use your platform to share who you are and what you believe?

Wilson: It’s what I try to remind myself of every day. I’m always trying to keep God’s agenda in mind. Some days it’s easier to do that than others, but even when we fall and fail in this game, we have to remember that people are watching. How we carry ourselves in the tough times might be the reason why someone wonders what’s going on in our lives. It might make them want to investigate it. Hopefully they’ll see that the peace comes from Jesus. That’s why I’m playing golf. That’s why God gave me the talent. That’s why I’m out here.

To learn more about Mark Wilson, check out his website here.

Tomorrow I’ll post a Q&A with PGA young gun Rickie Fowler who talked to me about being a role model and the importance of having accountability with fellow Christians on tour.

K.J. Choi donates portion of latest PGA winnings to tornado relief

posted by Chad Bonham

On the heels of his sensational playoff victory at the PLAYERS Championship, K.J. Choi is donating $200,000 of his winnings to support victims of the tornadoes that ravaged the Southeast this spring. Read more here.

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