This past weekend, Uncommon Sports Group hosted twenty-five USG Academy graduates in Phoenix, AZ, for one of our Impact Weekends. The process for getting involved with our ministry begins with participants completing our eight-week virtual Academy, which pushes them to connect their faith in Christ with their career in sports, and round out the Academy with the in-person Impact Weekend experience. Once participants complete the eight-week Academy and an Impact Weekend, they are granted access to full membership with Uncommon Sports Group.
The goal of our Impact Weekends is to provide an opportunity for participants to put into practice everything they have been studying during the eight-week Academy, as well as have the opportunity to grow in their faith with like-minded people in the sport industry. We kicked off our Phoenix weekend on Friday afternoon with a trip to Grand Canyon, a D-1 university near downtown Phoenix. We heard from some of their staff, including the former chaplain of NASCAR Tim Griffin, who is presently the Vice President of Student Affairs at GCU. One of the highlights of Tim's message was when he talked about pouring into entry-level people in the sport industry and showing them the love of Christ, as opposed to prioritizing the directors and executive-level staff. From there, we were given a tour of GCU's athletic facilities, including its soccer stadium and basketball arena. It's always inspiring for our participants to see how the operation of other universities and organizations are run as they seek a career of their own! We finished off Friday with a team social event at Topgolf, which was a great time of fellowship for the group.
Saturday was a packed yet exciting opportunity for our group to grow spiritually and professionally. We began the morning session with a group Bible study. We used the Discovery Bible Study (DBS) method to allow our participants to soak in what they were reading. We then transitioned into a few activities that allowed our participants to engage with their Gallup CliftonStrengths results. During the Academy, each participant is required to take the Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment to help them see their God-given abilities. The group really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know one another better through the strengths activities, as well as growing in their understanding of their own gifts! Once we completed the morning session, we walked from our hotel over to Chase Field, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks,
to receive a tour from Amilyn Pierce, who is the Vice President of Government Affairs with the D-Backs. The ballpark was beautiful and Amilyn took some time at the end of the tour to share with our group her background, what she does in her role, and how she incorporates her faith in Christ in her workplace. One highlight from Amilyn's talk was her love for God despite losing her husband in a car crash, as well as her ability to be a single mother who works full-time in the sport industry! God really encouraged and challenged our young people through Amilyn's talk.
From Chase Field, we went to the Footprint Center, which is home to the Phoenix Suns (NBA) and Phoenix Mercury (WNBA). We received a tour of the arena from two USG participants, Luke Unverferth and Kyle Gaspari. Luke and Kyle are both Sales Associates on staff with the Suns, and they primarily sell suites inside the arena to large groups and businesses. Luke got involved with Uncommon Sports Group in 2019 and Kyle just recently got involved this past summer. The tour of the arena was incredible, as they just made some major renovations, and it was awesome to hear Luke and Kyle share what they do daily in their roles. Luke and Kyle closed out the tour by sharing their stories and how they incorporate their faith in Christ with their jobs. Luke shared that it is valuable to prioritize building relationships with your co-workers as a way to share Christ with them. It can be difficult to be open about your faith during work hours, but if you build relationships outside of work, it opens up doors to share Christ with your co-workers! This was a great learning point for our young people to be mission-minded in their roles in sports!
We ended the weekend on Sunday morning with group worship in the hotel and a large group devotional over Matthew 13:1-23 (Parable of the Sower). It is truly a blessing for our ministry to be able to come alongside these young professionals who love Jesus and who desire to work in the sport industry. The Phoenix Impact Weekend was another reminder that God is working in the lives of many young people in sports to make an impact for His kingdom and glory in their workplaces and beyond.
If you are interested in getting involved with Uncommon Sports Group and having the opportunity to attend one of our future Impact Weekends, apply to join the community here!
If you are curious about our ministry or have any questions, feel free to contact a staff member here!