January 18, 2023 : By Christian Shields - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Liberty University kicked off the first Convocation of the Spring 2023 Semester on Wednesday with recently hired Head Football Coach Jamey Chadwell, who encouraged the students to be true Champions for Christ.
In a sit-down interview with Campus Pastor Jonathan Falwell, Chadwell introduced himself to the student body and shared his vision for Flames Football going forward.
Chadwell joined Liberty in December after he spent the last five seasons with Coastal Carolina University, including an impressive 31-6 stretch over the last three seasons. He also received AP Coach of the Year honors for the 2020 season, in which CCU finished 11-1, with the team’s only loss coming to Liberty in the Cure Bowl.
As he prepares for his first season at the helm of the Liberty football team, Chadwell said that he chose one word to encourage his players: “embrace.”
“We wanted to embrace this opportunity and embrace this adversity that we’re going to face,” he said. “When you embrace something, that means you go after it. You want to hug it. You want to be close to it. If you embrace these challenges in this new staff that’s coming in, special things can happen.”
Chadwell also highlighted four leadership principles that he plans to drill into his athletes: competition, discipline, accountability, and purpose. Through these lessons, Chadwell aims to leave a lasting imprint on his student-athletes that will extend far outside of their time as members of his football team.
“I believe those principles help you on the football field 100%, but if you go through those core principles of a program, if you know what it means to be competitive every day, if you know how to be accountable, and if you do things with a purpose, think of how you can impact your children. Think of how you can impact your future wife. Think of the impact of the people you come into contact with,” Chadwell said.
In addition to sharing a glimpse of his coaching philosophy, Chadwell also spoke about his personal faith journey. He argued that Christians should be active followers of Christ instead of merely passive believers. Despite being saved when he was 14 years old, Chadwell said that he did not truly begin following Christ until seven years later when he was playing football at Eastern Tennessee State University. After shattering his ankle only a few weeks before the beginning of the season, Chadwell decided to become a follower of Christ while lying in a bed recovering from his injury. It was here that he began truly following Christ with his life.
“When you follow something, you’re willing to give up something for yourself because you believe so much in what you are following,” Chadwell said.
Chadwell shared a lesson he has learned throughout his football coaching career: the importance of focusing on the purpose of one’s actions instead of the actions themselves.
“I think it’s so hard, especially in sports or in anything you’re associated with, you define yourself by what you do — ‘Hey, I’m a football player or a football coach.’ No, I’m a Christian who happens to coach because that’s the journey, and the platform God’s given me,” Chadwell said.
He encouraged the students to be courageous in their faith and actively pursue God with their lives, stressing the need to spend time each day building a solid biblical foundation for their lives.
“You’re here for a purpose at Liberty,” he said. “You’re here to get to know Christ better, and when you leave here, that’s preparing you to go transform lives and impact people. Be bold for Jesus.”
Chadwell concluded by defining what it means to be a Champion for Christ. He said Liberty’s longtime mission of Training Champions for Christ has stood at the forefront of everything the university has accomplished.
“A champion is not necessarily someone hoisting their trophy all the time,” he said. “A champion is someone who pursues a goal consistently through ups and downs and challenges. I think if you’re boldly wanting to be a Champion for Christ, you’re going to get challenged. People are going to say things about you. They might make fun of you. They might do different things to try to make you feel less than you actually are. A Champion for Christ is bold enough to continue to live out their faith.”