Advice from a church sports leader released after 14 years of service

By Jerry Borrowman

For Mormon Times

Published: Saturday, May 28 2011 4:30 a.m. MDT

"Attend stake and council meetings. As ward coaches and specialists get together with their stake sports specialist, they form friendships outside the ward that make the whole stake feel like one big team. The same is true for those who go on to tournament play — by attending the meetings, or officiating for games other than your own ward, you get to know and appreciate a lot more people — and sports will be even better for you."

Q: What advice do you have for those who continue to work in church sports?

"Serve with the right attitude. Don’t do it to just to get it out of the way, but immerse yourself in the calling, and soon it will become a joy to serve.

"Second, read the handbook until you know it inside and out! When I started as a sports director, I figured that because I am an athlete I already knew everything about sports. But that wasn’t true of church sports. There are rules and regulations that are unique to our program, and when I read the handbook to the point that I nearly had it memorized, I could answer questions with confidence, even if the answer was, 'That’s just the way the Brethren want us to do it.'

"One of the interesting things to come out of this is that when I first started studying the handbook I had trouble understanding the logic behind some of the rules. But as I got more experience, I could see the inspiration in the handbook and why it made things work better in a church setting. I now have full confidence in the rules and recognize that those stakes who really get the training to organize things the right way are the ones that have a successful program. By knowing the job inside and out, it becomes much easier to organize the seasons and tournaments and to provide effective leadership to officials and coaches.

"Church sports adds a vital element to integrating new members into the church and keeping current members active. It's about friendship. Outside of sports, there's not a lot of opportunity to socialize — to laugh and joke and just enjoy each other’s company. But church sports offers that opportunity, and it means the world to those of us who enjoy these activities.

"As one who spent a lot of time in the trenches, I acknowledge that this is a challenging job, but the challenges are well worth the effort."

Jerry Borrowman is Utah Area Sports communications director. He is also a best-selling author of World War I and II fiction and co-authored biography. His website is www.jerryborrowman.com.

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