This past weekend, Uncommon Sports Group hosted the first-ever Christians Working in Sports (CWS) Conference in Minneapolis, MN. The conference's goal was to connect believers across the sport industry together and leave them feeling encouraged and equipped in their faith. The conference brought together over a hundred Christians working in college and pro sports to hear from a wide variety of speakers who provided insights into living a Christ-centered life amidst the challenges of working in sports.
The conference officially kicked off on Friday, June 23rd, at Southwest Christian High School in Chaska, Minnesota, with an opening message from the Baltimore Ravens chaplain, Johnny Shelton. Johnny’s message covered the purpose of why the attendees were gathered and the importance of living out your faith in the sport industry. After Johnny’s message, the attendees heard from an exceptional panel of
speakers that discussed the significance of community. The panel was hosted by the Director of Media at Sports Spectrum, Jason Romano. It featured the Vice President of Government Affairs with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Amilyn Pierce, the former Executive Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs, Jay Jacobs, and the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer with the Minnesota Timberwolves & Minnesota Lynx, Tru Pettigrew. After the sessions wrapped up, attendees were bussed to Uncommon Sports Group’s headquarters for a social event, which featured dinner and an opportunity to connect with one another.
The second day of the conference started early Saturday morning with worship and a powerful message from well renowned speaker and author, Jon Gordan, on loving, serving, and caring for those around you in the sport industry. After Jon’s message, each participant was sent out into a breakout session to discuss the message that Jon delivered, as well as build authentic relationships with one another. Once breakout groups wrapped up, everyone headed back to the auditorium to hear from the Founder & President of KMM Sports, Kelli Masters, for a message on living on mission within the sport industry and how each participant can be doing that practically in their roles.
After Kelli’s message and a lunch provided by a local Chick-Fil-A, the afternoon portion of the day was kicked off by another amazing panel on navigating trials within the sport industry. The panel was hosted by Jason Romano once again and featured an experienced lineup of speakers, including NCAA basketball coach Tom Crean, the inaugural women’s hockey coach at the University of Minnesota, Laura Halldorson, Denver Nuggets Assistant Coach, Ryan Saunders,
and Orlando Magic Forward Jonathan Isaac. This panel was especially impactful and covered trials such as being let go, battling cancer, losing a loved one, and more! After the panel session, attendees were able to hear from Pastor Mike Linch of NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Georgia, for a message on making disciples in the workplace! After Mike’s message, attendees were sent back into their breakout rooms for a time of discussion and connection before coming back together for the final commissioning message given by Orlando Magic Forward and author of the book Why I Stand, Jonathan Isaac. Jonathan’s message discussed the importance and power of being a bold Christian in your workplace and standing firm on your beliefs. It was a tremendous way to round out the conference before sending the attendees back to their respective workplaces.
It was a blessing to see months of prayer, planning, and preparation turn into a conference that connected, encouraged, and equipped over a hundred sport industry professionals in their faith journey. Our hope is that the messages that were heard and the conversations that were had will be the springboard for the gospel to be lived out, preached, and heard across the sport industry. We cannot wait to gather again next summer for the second annual Christians Working in Sports (CWS) Conference! Follow along on Uncommon Sports Group’s social media pages for updates on registration for the 2024 CWS Conference.