“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.”
- 1 Corinthians 9:24
The beginning of August marked the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I was going to Pittsburgh to play in my first Pro PDGA World Championships and for the first time I would actually be doing some work with Eagles Wings Disc Golf. I am so blessed to be starting a new job where I get to combine my passion for God with the game of disc golf. In this moment, I literally felt like I was standing on the starting line of the longest race. I was so anxious and excited for what was about to happen.
Eagles Wings Disc Golf had organized and offered a mission trip to some local disc golfers in Pennsylvania where the organization is headquartered. These six people also decided to take the time off work and volunteer at the Pro PDGA tournament as part of Eagles Wings Disc Golf. Along with the three of us (Dustin Leatherman, Jim Schultz and myself) that will be full time staff and a few other associated with the full time staff, we had a large presence at the tournament.
We set up a booth at the fly mart, which took place during the field events day. This was a place where people could look and see at what all the top disc golf companies were up to. It was a chance to rub elbows with people who are trying to help grow the sport of disc golf. It was a chance for us to promote who we are and what we are planning to do, while inviting people to join us for our first chapel service. We had a number of people what were excited about various aspects of the ministry of Eagles Wings Disc Golf. Many liked some of the unique course design elements that Jim Shultz had done for a camp in Mexico. Several people were glad to hear that we were looking to run youth programs like what Dustin Leatherman has done in Sellersville, PA.
The evening that marked the half way point in the tournament brought our first chapel service. It was well attended by people of all ages. We spent time in fellowship, getting to know one another and being able to show support for each other. It was great to meet new people who were passionate about disc golf and passionate about God. We had one visitor who made a point to be at the service so that he could learn even more about Eagles Wings Disc Golf and learn how he might be able to get involved. Jim gave a short message on purpose and how God is the real reason we are doing anything in this life. We were even able to end the service with a song, because Jim ran into an old friend who was a worship pastor and he offered to play his guitar and sing for us.
We also had four people, myself included, who were playing in the tournament. Hannah Leatherman was the first person to get an ace at the world championships! Dustin Leatherman, Jim Shultz and myself all enjoyed rounds getting to know new people and seeing old friends. Jim did well enough to make the semifinals.
By all measures, this trip was a success for Eagles Wings Disc Golf. One of my favorite stories from the event came from one of our volunteers, Elijah. Elijah is just 10 years old and came to volunteer on our team with his dad Seth. They spent time working at the distance competition as well as spotting on the course during the tournament. One day Elijah and Seth were spotting on the course at Slippery Rock University while the top male disc golfers were playing. Elijah was sitting deep in the woods and watching for discs as they approached on a difficult par 5. Will Schusterick, who was leading the tournament at the time, threw a big up shot that crashed through the trees a bit deeper than most, right where Elijah was standing. Elijah had just enough time to look up before he was hit by the disc. Will, being a nice guy, signed a disc and gave it to him and Elijah became a celebrity. Several other top players knew his name and came up to talk with him between rounds. Later as Elijah watched the second round, he was getting high fives from players as they threw good shots. Elijah is even more excited about disc golf than he was before. He is already looking forward to participating in future Eagles Wings Disc Golf events.
We are standing at the starting line for some amazing things that God is going to do in and through the disc golf community. I feel so blessed to be part of an amazing team and am looking forward to seeing how God uses this team in the future.
1. I am continuing to raise support and have recently been encouraged by some dear friends. Pray that God would continue to provide. Pray also for Jim Shultz as he also continues raising support. Pray for all our supporters, that they would be blessed by the impact they are making.
2. Pray for Elijah, that he would grow in his faith and be someone who shares his love for God with those he meets on the disc golf courses.
3. Pray for the next Eagles Wings Disc Golf chapel service to take place at the next PDGA National Tour Event. It takes place the morning of Sunday August 23rd, 2015.