Volume 21, Issue 28 | March 29, 2022
A Most Beautiful Thing
Arshay Cooper has a story to tell. Having learned the "harder side of life" growing up on Chicago's west-side in the 1990's, he knows first-hand the issues that face many of today's children. As one of the members of the nation's first all-Black high school rowing team, Arshay also has a unique understanding of the ability that sports has to transform the lives of these children and young adults, helping them to overcome, to thrive and to dream.

Arshay's story has been documented in word and film through A Most Beautiful Thing, his fantastic book and critically acclaimed documentary film that are well worth your time. But it's the lessons he learned that can translate to any team or sport. Arshay shared his wisdom with the Play Like a Champion community when we sat down with him this past year, highlighted by three points that can serve coaches, parents and athletes well.

"You Have to Pull for Each Other"
In this clip from our conversation with Arshay, he relives his first experience with rowing. As he found the "magic in the boat", Arshay found healing from trauma and a sense of unity with teammates. As he notes here, leaders should consider how we use sports as an opportunity for young athletes to work on themselves, to learn more about each other, to heal, and then to compete.
"Living a Championship Moment All the Time"
The sports coach has a unique ability to help kids realize dreams both big and small. But doing so requires creating a positive environment full of energy and love. Arshay relays a story from his own experience and his work with kids, emphasizing the importance of maintaining your energy and using the lessons of sport to help kids in their everyday lives while coaches "bring their best selves" to the athletes.
Investing in Kids
Before you get a withdrawal from the bank, you have to make a deposit. For young athletes, this involves asking questions each day and demonstrating that you care about the person, not just the athlete. Arshay gives examples of the simple questions his coaches asked to invest in him, noting that all those deposits created plenty to withdraw. It's this investment in our athletes that pays off in the end.
Take a moment to watch the videos above (or watch them together here) and consider how his words can help you make a difference in your own community. How can sports help young athletes in your community to learn from each other? How can you develop an environment full of energy and love that allows young athletes to dream? How can you invest in young athletes? As Arshay's story demonstrates, answering these questions can have a transformational impact in the lives of children.
Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth. 
~ 1 John 3:18
A Prayer for Teams Before a Season
Lord, thank you for all of us gathered here today.
Thank you for our new teammates who we will play with this season, and for the coaches who will help us to learn this game and grow. As we begin this new season, we ask that you bless us. Keep us healthy and strong, help us to focus so that we can learn how to play (enter sport), help us to work hard so we can improve our skills with each practice, and help us to have fun while doing all of this. Most importantly Lord, help us to follow you in everything that we do, and to always glorify you through our practice and play. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Play Like a Champion's "Daily Prayers for Champions" page has been updated! Visit www.playlikeachampion.org/prayer for more than 200 prayers plus resources that can help you and your team grow closer to God while participating in sports.
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