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The embrace of a coach

In the last post “E is for embrace” , I talked about how we want to create a distinct culture at Trailhead Fellowship. In this post, I want to give you an example, how the embrace of a coach helps a 5 foot 8 inch basketball player become a champion for life!

This week the college basketball playoffs are happening. Markquis Nowells is a young man who plays the guard position on the Kansas State University team. Guess how tall he is? He is only 5’ 8” tall. But he has been the hero of this team. You might think his point scoring has made him so valuable but it is not his scoring! It is his “assists” that has made him so special.

What is an “assist?” It is giving the ball away so another player can score points. His fame came from giving and creating opportunities to others to score. This “thinking of others” and “playing selflessly” and “playing for the team” is a culture of love. It is “other-centered” playing. How did he get to be that way? He plays for a coach who loves him and who has created a culture of love.

Last night, in a crazy game against Michigan State University, this young man, Marquis Nowell, set a new NCAA Basketball record for the most assists in a playoff game. He had 19 assists and 20 points. That is a lot of love!

I want to invite you to watch this 1 minute video interview until the very end. You will hear the coach’s enthusiasm, and Markquis’ humility before God and mostly about the faith and love they have in one another. At the end is their embrace. Wow.

90 second interview with Markquis and Coach Jerome, arm in arm.

YouTube player

If you knew the coach well you would say he is full of love and passes it on to his players. And when you see his players you will conclude that these players are “players of coach Jerome” because they love the way he has loved them.

Coach Jerome was born in San Fernando, Trinidad, to Paul and Bano Tang. His mother is of Indian descent, and his father is half-Chinese.

In 2022 Jerome was appointed head coach of Kansas State. He loves the sport, but he loves God more. In a recent interview, he said, “I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for this opportunity that He’s given me, the many blessings that He’s placed on my life. I know my profession is coaching, but my calling and my passion is ministry.”

As much as Jerome is passionate about his calling, he also deeply cares for his team.

“I love being able to spend time around these young men and just help them to grow and become great husbands who are going to be great fathers and leaders in their community. It’s just so much fun to do it through the game of basketball,” Jerome said.

Here is the question: can we in a men’s ministry and in the church create this kind of communities of embracing one another? This is mentoring, listening, challenging, being authentic, and ultimately healing. I believe we can and will create this environment and it begins with you!

Article on CBS Sports

Markquis’ 19 assists NCAA record highlight reel on YouTube

YouTube player

Coach Jerome brief story

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