This past weekend, Uncommon Sports Group hosted an Impact Weekend in Phoenix, AZ, for twenty-one USG Academy participants. Each of the attendees spent eight weeks walking through USG’s unique Academy program that provides faith-based and professional development opportunities for the participants as they pursue careers in the sport industry. The Impact Weekend experience is a required in-person opportunity that each Academy participant attends to provide them with a more hands-on development experience, as well as a chance to build Christ-centered relationships within the college and pro sport industry.
The weekend officially began on Friday afternoon with a strengths activity in the hotel conference room. During the virtual portion of the USG Academy, participants completed Gallup’s CliftonStrengths assessment, which gave them insights into their gifts and abilities. The activity allowed the group to get to know each other better by discussing their strengths.
After the strengths activity, the group headed to Grand Canyon University for a panel
discussion with six different athletic administrators from GCU’s Division 1 athletic department. The panel featured Jamie Boggs, the Vice President of Athletics; Nick Ojea, the Assistant Vice President and Deputy Athletic Director; Anthony Martinez, the Senior Associate Athletic Director of Student Services; Micah Meyer, the Associate Athletic Director of Finance; Al Porteous, the Associate Athletic Director of Media Production; and Jerome Garrison, Assistant Director of Student-Athlete Development.
The panel touched on various topics, including work/life balance, leadership, living out their faith in the industry, their specific career journeys, and advice for our participants. Once the panel session wrapped up, our group received a tour of GCU’s athletic facilities from Micah Meyer! The night wrapped up at PopStroke for a time to socialize with one another over a meal and a friendly round of mini-golf!
Saturday morning began with a group Bible study over Acts 2:42-47. The participants studied the Word using the Discovery Bible Study (DBS) method, which provides a simple, effective, and replicable way to read God’s Word. The verses that the participants studied in Acts provide a blueprint for how believers should interact with each other and live out their newfound life in Christ!
After our time studying the Word together, the group welcomed Joseph Pun, the Director of Spring Training Business Operations with the Oakland Athletics, to the hotel as the first guest speaker of the day! Joe talked about his unique journey from selling life insurance to working in the MLB, as well as how he incorporates his faith in Christ into his work with the Athletics. It was encouraging for our group to see firsthand what it looks like to live out your faith as a professional in the sport industry.
The next stop for our group was the Footprint Center, the home of the Phoenix Suns, for a tour of the building! Our tour guides, Luke Unverferth, and Kyle Gaspari, work full-time with the Suns and are present USG members. Luke is presently the Account Executive of Business Development, and Kyle is the Account Executive of Membership Experience. The tour included an up close and personal look at the arena's suites and gameday fan activities, as well as a chance to take a group photo on the court!
After the tour, Luke and Kyle were gracious enough to share their career and faith stories with our group, as well as fielding questions. It is extra special to hear from Luke and Kyle because they are directly involved with USG and are present Christ-centered leaders within the sport industry.
Following our time at the Footprint Center and lunch in the city, the group headed to the Tempe area for an outreach activity. The activity began with a short training exercise led by Suraj Thomas, who does ministry locally in Phoenix. After Suraj’s training, our group was sent out to two local malls in the Tempe area to share the gospel and pray for people in need. One of our core values at Uncommon Sports Group is living “called” to the Great Commission, which includes sharing the gospel and discipling unbelievers. The outreach activity provided our attendees with hands-on experience in living out the Great Commission and gave them the tools to replicate it back in their home communities.
The night wrapped up with dinner at the hotel and a short commissioning exercise that covered the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:1-23. The commissioning message encouraged the group not to allow the Word to be trampled by the things of the world but rather that they would produce a crop (Matthew 13:23).
Sunday was the final day of the Impact Weekend, and our group was able to attend church locally at Fixate PHX. Another core value we have at Uncommon Sports Group is living “connected,” and the best way to do that is to be connected to a local church body! Attending a local church during the weekend emphasizes the importance of the community and discipleship that the church can provide.
Each participant is officially a member of Uncommon Sports Group because of their completion of the Impact Weekend, and we’re encouraged by the ways that God grew each individual over the course of the weekend.
We’re incredibly appreciative of our Clean Out For A Cause donors for their generosity and for making events like these possible. As we send these new USG members out, we’re confident they are prepared and equipped to be Christ-centered leaders within the college and pro sport industry.