Clint Longenecker, left, introduces University of Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside during a unity breakfast that also featured Bowling Green players Friday in Maumee. THE BLADE/LORI KING
At 3:30 p.m. today, Zac Bartman, Robert Jackson Jr. and Matt Robinson of the Bowling Green defense all will be trying to hit Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside as hard as they possibly can when he has the ball. But Friday morning, they shook hands and hugged after sharing their favorite Bible scriptures and faith stories at a unity breakfast in Maumee.
Fellowship of Christian Athletes put on the annual event that features both head coaches and conduct a question-and-answer session with Christian athletes. The crowd included football players from 16 area high schools, and more than 500 people overall in attendance.
“This is an unbelievable event that I’m so blessed and humbled to be apart of,” BG coach Mike Jinks said. “I believe in the power of prayer — the great power in prayer. I’m not perfect, but I had a praying grandmother and mother. They never were able to see me even as a high school coach, but they were sowing seeds.”
Both coaches talked in front of the packed audience before five players from each team took the stage for an interview conducted by UT professor Clint Longenecker.
Longenecker asked the athletes about the best things about being a football player, their biggest faith lessons learned at college and their favorite Bible verses.
“Mine is Philippians 4:6 which says, ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,’” Robinson said. “I’m the type of person who worries about situations coming up, it taught me to relax.”
Toledo safety DeJuan Rogers, who is second on the team in tackles, opened up about how he accepted Jesus Christ as his savior this summer after his mother died. He said his faith has been able to help him grieve and channel the emotions into football.
Woodside, third in the nation with 1,691 passing yards, said having team chaplain John Livingston around as a life coach who prays with players before and sometimes during games is vital.
After the breakfast, Lake High School linebacker Griffin Pollock had the chance to meet Bartman, a linebacker for the Falcons. Pollock was impressed with Bartman’s ability to double major in biology and psychology while preparing for graduate school. Bartman is a two-time All-Academic Mid-American Conference student.
“Spirituality is one of those pillars we tell parents and students in living rooms (while recruiting) that we will improve,” Toledo coach Jason Candle said. “A football huddle is one of the only places you can have a country boy from Georgia and an East Cleveland city boy together. They learn they sweat and bleed the same — it’s the best team sport.”