The Joy of Community

In sports, there is nothing that compares to the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.  Much like the ups and downs of riding a roller coaster, being in active in sports can twist and turn your emotions. At least that is what I have experienced in my 28 years of life.  How we learn to handle these emotional situations determines what kind of character we develop.  As I reflect back on my life to this point, it is really clear to me that some of the most definitive moments and important relationships I’ve enjoyed have be born from the field of play.  It is because of this thought – and also a passion to serve God by serving His people – that I chose to serve with RYAA a few years ago.

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure to meet hundreds of youth as a soccer coach, a Bible story teacher, a referee, a friend, and a mentor.  Its really cool when I am able to go out to the soccer field – like on tournament day – or when I am in the grocery store and I run into somebody whom I met through RYAA.  I love it when they get so excited to see me.  I mean, who am I?  I give a little time and I feel like I get so much love in return.  In the end, I am the one who is so thankful to see them.  And I also remember all the people who invested time in me when I was young – the people who hoped and prayed for my success.  Now that I am on the giving end of this relationship, I value their efforts on my behalf even more.

It is for these reasons that I highly encourage everyone to consider being a coach, mentor, prayer partner, or servant in any way you think God may be calling you.  I have been so blessed by the coaches and mentors in my life and I am excited to have the opportunity to give a little back.  In a way, it almost feels unfair because even though I am “giving” I feel like I get so much more in return.

– Eric Garthoffner (joyful member of RYAA community)

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