Coach, WBU player traveling with Athletes in Action
As the son of two coaches, Ty Harrelson admits his life pretty much revolves around basketball. As a junior point guard at Wayland Baptist University, Harrelson's talents on the court played an important role in the team's successful season.
Now, those talents will take Harrelson even further, as he spends a portion of his summer in Costa Rica and Mexico with Athletes in Action, a division of Campus Crusade for Christ.
The trip begins in June with five days of training in Cincinnati, Ohio, before leaving for the foreign destinations. Harrelson will be a member of a basketball team that will be competing against national and professional teams in those countries in exhibition games and at various events.
When they're not competing, the team members will share their Christian testimonies at games, lead basketball clinics for children and do other service projects that give them a chance to share the Gospel. Harrelson is excited about the opportunity to use his talents for God's glory.
"This is a way I can relate to people and share my Christian faith through basketball," he said. "I feel like God's called me to do this."
Harrelson said he recalls watching an AIA team play as a child and remembers what an influence that experience was on his life. When an AIA representative who was friends with head coach Todd Thurman came to the campus, his hopes of traveling with the evangelistic group came closer to reality.
"I'm excited about him going," Thurman said. "Ty's one of our leaders. If he comes back with just the excitement and feeding of his faith, it'll strengthen the team, too."
Like most AIA volunteers, Harrelson must raise his own funds in order to make the trip. His total goal is $3,000, which will cover travel, equipment, daily expenses, insurance and other ministry materials.
Thurman will be on the road this summer as well, spending two weeks in Spain coaching an AIA team of adults and European professional players. It'll be the second such venture for Thurman, who toured several years back with AIA to Croatia and Switzerland.
"It's very uplifting. It refuels you and encourages you in your walk," he said. "It's just a positive experience all around."
Thurman said there are definite challenges in leading a team he hasn't even met yet and trying to implement a game system within a week. But he said the experience is beneficial to him as well.
"Anytime you have the opportunity to coach a team you have to organize quickly and try to develop unity, it helps you in your career," he said.
Thurman speaks highly of the AIA experience and said he's encouraged many of his players over the years to pursue touring with the group. He said getting to interact with people and share his relationship with Christ is the highlight of the trip.
Anyone wishing to donate to either Harrelson or Thurman's AIA trips may contact Thurman at 291-1147. All donations to AIA are tax-deductible.