Home Christian News Faith on the Field: Coaches Were Watching Supreme Court Decision Closely

Faith on the Field: Coaches Were Watching Supreme Court Decision Closely

Both know coaching success. Charles was on the sidelines when GHS brought home two state titles. Kim’s teams averaged more than 20 wins a season while claiming four region championships and five state tournament appearances. Twice at Gadsden State, the Cardinals claimed their conference title and bid to the national tournament.

True success had little to do with the scoreboard, though. It took Charles a little longer to learn that.

A change in perspective

“The Lord had to open the door for me to get back into coaching football,” he said. “When He did, I made it clear to everyone that I was a different coach than before. Every boy who played for us would know about the Gospel.

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“It’s been an awesome experience. I’m the Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle leader at the school now. It’s all really changed me and not something you have to ‘try’ to do once you’re tuned in to the Lord with your platform.”

Kim saw the basketball court as not only a place to teach drills, but develop life lessons.

“It became a mission field for me to help them grow spiritually and direct them to Christ. At Gadsden State, many of those players were away from home for the first time. We shared a lot of meals with them and things like that,” she said.

Any coach worth their whistle knows the inevitability of becoming involved with a player’s personal life to some degree. Relationships with family or a girlfriend, grades, what’s next after sports – all of those come up just as much as who gets the ball when facing a zone defense.

“If I only gave them basketball, I failed them,” Kim Nails said.

First Amendment protection

In a recent discussion with Executive Committee Vice President for Communications Jonathan Howe, acting Ethics & Religious Liberty President Brent Leatherwood spoke to the importance of the Supreme Court decision.

“The case gets back to something the Court said many years ago,” Leatherwood said. “A teacher or student does not shed their First Amendment rights simply because they enter the school house door.”

Kennedy’s actions on his own were not communicating a policy position on the part of the school, Leatherwood said, but the importance of faith in his life.

“It reaffirms the fact that you can be a teacher or a student and be a Christian in the public square, and that’s a good thing. … It’s a very good decision, one that I think Southern Baptists should be very happy with.”

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The Nailses were “mildly surprised” at the SCOTUS decision.

“We’re ecstatic anytime there’s a law that’s in line with Christ and his teachings,” Charles said. Both are longtime members of MeadowBrook Church in Rainbow City, Ala., where Charles is a deacon and volunteers in the middle school ministry. Kim teaches a fifth grade Life Group on Sundays.

Knocks on the door

Sundown High’s mascot – the Roughnecks – isn’t random.

“These kids come from families that make their living from the oil fields,” Rodgers said. “They’re some of the hardest working people I’ve been around. They roll up their sleeves and go to work every day to provide for their families. The kids are great and take a lot of pride in their school work. I’m proud to be a part of it.”

A coach now for 24 years, he’s come to realize the lifelong impact the title carries.

It wasn’t unusual for a former player to knock on the front door of the family home and spend hours talking to Steve Rodgers. As is the case in many small towns, a lot of folks stay and paths cross at the hardware store, church and annual Fourth of July fireworks show. Young men grow from running backs into fathers and husbands, still with questions about the right direction to take.