MATT KAMP PLAYS WITH ATHLETES IN ACTION
For two months during the summer, Matt Kamp '10 of Tinley Park, Illinois, did what he likes to do best-play baseball. Although he has been playing most of his life, this summer was different. Kamp played in New York on a team sponsored by Athletes in Action, an organization that uses athletics as a platform to share Jesus Christ.
When Kamp first heard about AIA, he knew it would provide the opportunity to develop his athletic skills as well as deepen his relationship with God. He raised the support he needed, packed his things, and traveled to the small town of Bolivar, New York, where he stayed with a host family while playing for AIA in the New York Baseball League.
"It was a little out of my comfort zone to be that far away from family for two months," said Kamp. "I didn't know anyone and wasn't sure what to expect."
Kamp secured a spot as the starting first baseman of the Bolivar A's and earned a place in the All-Star game. Playing first base was a change from his normal catching position, but he enjoyed learning the ins and outs of a new position and viewing the game from a different perspective.
"My baseball skills improved this summer," said Kamp, who spent many hours each day in practice and in games. He also received individualized attention from the coaching staff, especially in hitting. "It also helped to play at that level with players who are Division I athletes."
In addition to physical training, AIA team members spent hours in biblical study and witnessing training. After the games, they handed out pamphlets that presented the gospel message and that explained who they were as an AIA team. During that time, the players had the opportunity to interact with the fans who supported them, the families who hosted them, and the community they lived in. They also joined with the opposing team for a time of testimony and one-on-one interaction.
"It was a little scary sharing my testimony in front of people, yet I gained confidence in doing it and now feel that I have the ability to go out and share my faith," said Kamp. "Through that I was able to build some relationships and plant some seeds."
Kamp said he now has a deeper understanding of how his faith is integrated with his athletic ability.
"What this summer really showed me is that I can use my talent to glorify God and to bring other people to Him," said Kamp.
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