With the Homecoming game against Eastern Illinois Saturday, many events are held this week to get the students and community excited for the games. One of those events is Athlete Night put on by Campus Outreach held Tuesday in Mason Hall Auditorium.
The organization wanted to provide an opportunity for all teams to celebrate Homecoming.
“It also provided a chance to talk about spiritual things and direct some of that excitement toward spiritual things and what it means to have a relationship with God and to be an athlete,” Kendall Magana, Campus Outreach director and football and basketball chaplain, said.
Approximately 275 people were present, including the entire basketball team, football players, softball players, baseball players and other athletes. In addition to students who came to show their support.
Dunker and the trumpet section of Racer Band were present as well. A stick-horse version of Racer 1 made a surprise appearance and football Coach Chris Hatcher spoke to the crowd, getting everyone pumped up for the game Saturday.
“We got a big game coming up on Saturday and we’re 3-3,”?he said. “This is a pivotal game for our football team, as we head on we’ve got a lot of our goals still intact and playoffs are in reach for the first time in a long time.”
Hatcher said the team appreciates the fans cheering them on during the games and that it helps being at home in front of a home crowd.
“The best thing about college is having a team to root for and our team is playing well,” he said. “There’s nothing like being a Racer on a Saturday night after a big win. Be there and be loud because I promise you it makes a difference on game day.”
The night also held a ‘Pros vs. Joes’ competition in which students went up against student-athletes, including quarterback Casey Brockman and softball player Mo Ramsey throwing footballs through hula-hoops and basketball players Isaiah Canaan and Mariah Robinson attempting shots from the knees against students.
Brockman said Athlete Night was a great way to get people pumped up for Homecoming.
“I think it went good, a lot of people were here,” Brockman said. “Everybody seemed pretty excited, so I think it went well.”
Part of the evening was dedicated to God and how through him all things happen. Former Racer quarterback Jeff Ehrhardt said Campus Outreach helped him find his identity as a follower of Christ, not just as the quarterback.
“There was a guy by the name of Mike Turner, he worked for Campus Outreach, he was the kind of like the Kendall of when I was in college,” he said. “He really convicted my heart of instead of finding my identity in football and things that didn’t really matter and through meeting him I started to find my identity through Christ.”
Soccer player Ashley Lewis said after coming to her first Campus Outreach meeting her life felt more fulfilled.
“I came and I heard Nate Moretto just flat out share the gospel,” she said. “It was the first time I understood why Jesus died and realized I wasn’t different than anyone I thought was a good Christian. We are all born with sin and make terrible decisions, they just play out differently in all of our lives.”
Magana spoke to the crowd on how to win spiritually and encouraged the audience to not turn away from God.
The director and his team coordinated the event and said he believed the event to be a success.
“I think somebody said there was about 275 people here tonight, that’s the biggest meeting we had this semester,” he said. “I think it was a success and we also got to talk about the Lord and that was our main purpose.”
Campus Outreach meets at 9 p.m. every Tuesday in Mason Hall.