Dec 8, 2009

Hockey teams lend helping hands

by Kelly Marvel

Liberty University was founded on the premise that it would raise up students to be champions for Christ, and that they would be taught to shine His love for us in all facets of life. Liberty’s men and women’s hockey teams are using their sport to show the light of Christ to the community and the world this Christmas season.

Liberty’s men’s hockey team has shown its success on and off the ice. As of Dec. 8, the 18-2 Flames were ranked fourth in the nation in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division 1 rankings. But for the teams, success on the ice is not enough to deem them completely successful.

They strive to reach everyone that they come across, including the teams that they play against.

“Our biggest form of outreach is with the teams we play. Thanks to the wonderful support of people around us providing some food for us after our home games, we are able to invite the other team for a meal where our players can interact with their players and one of our guys shares his testimony with everyone during that time,” Liberty captain Zac Bauman said.

The Flames’ main outreach this season is a mission trip over Christmas break to Moscow. This is the second trip the men’s team has taken overseas. The first was to Sweden in 2007.

While in Russia, the team will be playing local hockey teams and ministering to the youth of Moscow and the surrounding areas. The Flames will be teaming up with Athletes in Action, an organization that helps athletes at the college and professional levels to use their sport to reach people with the gospel.

“It’s a good opportunity. We are going to be also visiting some orphanages over there and working with some local churches that Athletes in Action has affiliations set up with already,” Coach Kirk Handy said.

The team is looking forward to the opportunity to serve God by ministering to the youth of Moscow.

“Probably the most exciting thing about the trip is what God’s going to do. It’s always a mystery how he will work while we’re there and what opportunities he will open for us,” Bauman said.
The players are excited about what God is going to do in their lives while they are in Russia.

“The best thing about doing these trips is how it can change people. You go over there looking to serve others, but it often changes the servant even more, and just experiencing different cultures can have a big impact,” Bauman said.

Bauman recalled that while in Sweden, the team members were able to learn quite a bit about each other and about God. He said that the bond the team grew on the trip was tremendous, and he hopes the same goes for the team in Russia.

“I think this is one of the greatest things about the trip. We get to be with each other all the time over there and it can help us as a team, but also as individuals, seeing what God can do first hand. Some of our guys have never experienced a trip like this, and my hope is that God will work in them just as much as he will in the Russians we’re going to reach,” he said.

The Flames know that they are called to a higher purpose in what they do and that is to reach others with the gospel.

“I think overseas or here locally, it’s what we’re commanded to do, to go make disciples. I think that what we’re trying to teach our players and what we as coaches are trying to get a grasp on is that you can use hockey not only to compete against other colleges and universities to make a difference but you can use hockey to lead people to the Lord,” Handy said.

They will be in Moscow from Dec. 27 until Jan. 7.

The women’s hockey team is also showing the love of Christ this holiday season. The 7-3-1 Lady Flames are ranked fifth in the ACHA rankings, and are using their success to help the children of Lynchburg have a better Christmas.

The Lady Flames have teamed up with Smile4Africa to collect toys to be donated to the Family Living Center in Lynchburg. The team decided to reach out to the community of Lynchburg because they believe it is important to show the love of Christ in their own backyard.

“When just driving around certain areas of Lynchburg, or attending CampusServe here at Liberty, it is easy to see that there are people in need here in our own community and they shouldn’t be overlooked,” Captain Brooke Harris said.

The team thinks that it is important that Lynchburg sees that the women’s hockey team of Liberty University loves the people of the city and loves Christ.

“The effect we hope to have on the community with this project is mainly just to help out, to show Lynchburg that we care, and that as a team, we do not expect anything in return. As a Christian, I hope that we give the testimony that Liberty cares, that God cares, that I, and the team, care for the well-being of the community,” Assistant Captain Jen Freymond said.

The Lady Flames hope that through this toy drive, some of the local children might have a better Christmas, and ultimately, a better life.

“We chose the Toy Drive because we felt that having toys at Christmas is a large part of being a child. A little boy could get a soccer ball, or a little girl could get a volleyball, for example, and they might really enjoy it,” Harris said. “Perhaps they practice hard and it takes them somewhere positive. It could give them direction and a path for their life. Then that toy helped a child’s life to be greater.”

Contact Kelly Marvel at

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