In today's busy world, families often have to juggle commitments to school, afterschool activities, sports, and church. One organization is hoping that their unique approach to organized activities will help lessen that burden on families and help them share and enjoy nurturing both their physical and spiritual needs.
Terry Lusch has fond memories of going to baseball games with his uncle, Marlin Troxell. Lusch grew up playing baseball and passed his love for the game on to his son, Brandon. However, more and more, Lusch found that his family, like many families, was being forced to choose between spending Sunday with his family and going to church or attending baseball games. "We feel that you shouldn't have to choose," said Lusch, who is one of the founders of Warriors for Faith.
"It's hard being a parent and feeling that you need to make a tough decision between your kids' sports future or their spiritual future," said Lusch. "What we're hoping to do here is to show that you can have strong Christian beliefs and also be committed to sports."
"Last year, we started under a different organization, Athletes for Christ, and although we had a slow start, we ended up with more than 50 children participating by the end of the season," said Lusch. The Athletes for Christ organization was focused mainly on baseball and had a larger following in the Lehigh Valley area. Lusch is hoping that the revamped group, under the Warriors for Faith moniker, will be able to offer several different sports, including co-ed volleyball, golf, and bowling, in addition to baseball. He and the recently formed board of trustees also hope that they can start sponsoring family night activities, like movie nights.
What makes the Warriors for Faith organization different from other leagues is that everyone gets a chance to play. The group works hard to be accommodating to parents' schedules, since it relies on parent volunteers to coordinate the practices and games. Although the group has it roots in three local churches, Ben Salem UCC, St. Peter's Union, and Zion Stone Church, and the Blue Mountain Christian Retreat, it is open to children of any faith, or even those who have no particular beliefs. "We are open to anyone," said Lusch. "This gives us a chance to share our faith with them and maybe introduce people who have not had the opportunity to go to church to God." The group has also been supported by West Penn Softball and the West Penn Park Commission, who allow the group to use the West Penn Park field and facilities.
Lusch said that each practice and game starts with a short Bible lesson. "Last year, we talked about Genesis and about how God created everything, including the sand and the grass that we were playing on," he said. "We want to bring family members together, and we saw that last year. We had a lot of support from families, grandparents, aunts, uncles." "The emphasis is on letting the kids play and have fun and learn, not on winning. Our goal is just to teach." At the end of the season, players and their families all participate in a family style picnic and everyone is awarded a trophy.
Jennifer Steigerwalt, whose serves on the board, said her son, Noah, participated in the program last year. "It was such a great positive, Christian experience for him," she said. "He was only three, so he was in that 'me me me' stage. He had to learn about taking turns and about being on a team," she said. "He learned to treat everyone equally and to give everyone a chance," she added.
Lusch hopes to expand the program this year. Last year, the younger age groups played games against each other, while the older age groups just practiced. "This year, we're hoping to have a World Series type of event between our teams and some teams from the Lehigh Valley," said Lusch.
The baseball program will begin in April. The organization is holding signups on Saturday, Feb. 11 at the West Penn municipal building, from 9am-12noon. The program is open to children from ages 3 to 12. The registration fee is $25 for the first child, with a discounted rate for each additional child, for children 3-8 and $40 for children ages 9-12. The teams are co-ed. For more information, contact Terry Lusch at (570) 386-5816.