“Work days” are not uncommon for the church body at Calvary Chapel Morgantown. The Cheat Lake based Christian Church, located in the old Good Counsel Friary off Tyrone Road, makes good use of members and volunteers to take care of the grounds and facilities.
So, when the day came to assemble and put up the new children’s playground, all those with strong backs were encouraged to come out, on a Saturday morning, to join the crew.
It was all-hands-on-deck, starting at 8 a.m., with an incredible turnout of church members. Some big, some small, one pregnant, young, old, strong, smart, some vocal, others quiet, but all, every single one, willing.
After a couple hours, when it seemed like maybe a few extra, strong backs wouldn’t hurt, seven cars with about five passengers in each, filed into the parking lot of Calvary Chapel. From the caravan emerged almost 35 players from the West Virginia University Football team along with the Mountaineer Football Strength staff.
It took only a few moments, a welcome and some instruction, from Calvary Chapel Pastor, Shawn Frasher, before the guys were part of the team and were hard at work.
“It was such a wonderful opportunity because we didn’t want anything from them in terms of football. We were just happy they were strong, and that we could invest our time to minister and build them up as young men,” Frasher said.
And that is exactly the goal of West Virginia Football. As much as coaches train them to be the best on the football field, they also find it their duty to train these young men to take personal responsibility, build relationships and become strong men off the field and in life.
“The most essential thing I saw was the guys' ability to receive coaching and direction from someone other than us coaches,” WVU Assistant Coach, Andrew McGee said. “So first, I must applaud the willingness of the helpers and facilitators that didn't blink when it came to leading individuals that they may not have been accustomed to. It was really cool seeing the guys focused and interested in what we were doing.”
It was a great sight. Here were some of Morgantown’s “hometown heroes”, invested in the community, but the special part, was the way the community was equally invested in these young men.
“The greatest benefit in serving and laboring together is the unity you build and fellowship you get with one another,” Frasher explained. “This playground will impact over one thousand families in the years to come and will continue to help create an environment to minister to the community of Morgantown.”
Impacting their community and making a difference in their time at WVU is something that these players take very seriously, but that doesn’t mean every part of the work day wasn’t any fun.
“The favorite memory that many of them had was seeing a few of the guys man up the jack hammer,” said McGee. “That was by far the most memorable moment.”
“The jack hammer, digging out the rock foundation for the playground posts, had to be one of the most memorable player moments,” Frasher agreed. “To some of us, that is a simple skill that we take for granted, while others have never used one before, and we could help each other gain a skill.”
It seems rare that we see these athletes in a light other than the ones illuminating Mountaineer Field or on our television screens, but for this day, they were just part of a team, part of a fellowship, part of a body, serving together and building friendships, new and old.
“They really enjoyed it. We must continue doing these type activities. I appreciate Pastor Shawn and his wife, Val, and Calvary Chapel, for giving our guys the opportunity to come be a part of this,” McGee said.
“We just loved having them around,” Frasher said. “They came genuinely interested in helping, with willing spirits, in turn helping us create an environment to minister to our community.”
The best part of all of this is not one person from that day, player, coach, pastor or church member, had any idea that I would write this story. Not one did this for any type of recognition or to receive anything in return. It was simplicity at its best. Serving from the heart and building relationships that will last a lifetime and producing good in a community for years and year to come.