Go for the Goal – Curt Tomasevicz

Go for the Goal – Curt TomaseviczThe 2014 Olympic winter Games open in Sochi, Russia on February 7, 2014.  Exactly one month later, following the 17 days of initial competition, the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games open for 10 days.  What better time to use Mainstay’s Go for the Goal sermon series.  As support material for our Go for the Goal series, we continue our series of stories that spotlight Winter Olympians whose goal is to honor Jesus Christ.

Curt Tomasevicz has already tasted Olympic gold as part of the “Night Train” four-man U.S. Bobsled Team at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. Now, four years later, he is on his way to Sochi to compete as a pusher for the sled that has now been officially designated as USA-1. But Curt is not “just another Olympic pusher,” he is considered one of the most powerful pushers in the world.

“It’s a great thrill to know that you have given everything you could to try to win and at the same time, done it with honor and integrity. I discovered this at a young age and it has proven to be one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned.”

Curt grew up in a Christian home, accepted Christ at a young age, and has managed to keep his eyes on the prize for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus more than on earthly rewards that will eventually pass away. But that does not mean, and never has meant, that he cannot be an athlete. What it does mean is that Curt’s passion to serve the Lord is where he gets the strength to perform well and to Go for the Goal.

Curt graduated from the University of Nebraska in 2003. He took up the sport of bobsledding the following year, teaming up with drivers Steve Holcomb and Mike Kohn. He has served as either a push athlete or a brakeman for both drivers in four-man and two-man events. His first gold medal came in the World Cup two-man competition in Cesana Pariol in February 2007. That was a breakthrough event, as he is now among the truly elite, winning bronze, silver and gold on the World Cup circuit on a consistent and regular basis. He has been the recipient of eight World Cup and World Championship gold medals and six silver since the 2010 Olympics.

In a few days, Curt will go for the gold in Sochi. When you watch him and his team, keep in mind His description of how he lives his life for Christ first. Then, let us all do the same.

“As I live my life today as a full-time athlete, I’ve found that I’m in a fantastic position to influence many people in a number of different ways. I have the opportunity to be viewed as a role model for millions of children. When I compete for the USA, I feel an enormous amount of pride knowing that my job is to represent the entire country on an international level. The way that I conduct myself could be seen around the world. In the heat of competitions, emotions run high. It can be easy to lose tempers, get mad, or argue with officials or opponents. But the person that keeps Christ as a priority throughout the competition seems to be the winner no matter what the score is in the end. A great Christian can remain calm in pressure situations, upbeat in the face of defeat, and even content with not winning. It’s important to be consistently reminded that winning and losing are not the most important things in life. The bigger picture is serving God the right way. I pray that I will always compete as a man with a strong apparent faith.”

Source material included Athletes in Action and the official U.S. Olympic Team websites.

Go for the Goal – Mark Johnson

Go for the Goal – Mark JohnsonThe 2014 Olympic winter Games open in Sochi, Russia on February 7, 2014.  Exactly one month later, following the 17 days of initial competition, the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games open for 10 days.  What better time to use Mainstay’s Go for the Goal sermon series.  As support material for our Go for the Goal series, we continue our series of stories that spotlight Winter Olympians whose Goal is to honor Jesus Christ.

Mark Johnson was a Devil when he came to Christ.  Some astute readers might be thinking, “You shouldn’t capitalize ‘devil,’” but the fact is that Mark was a capital ‘D’ Devil.  He was a New Jersey Devil professional hockey player.  It was while he was playing for the Devils he traded his personal accolades for the glory of God, trusting Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord.

Before turning professional and becoming a Devil, Mark had actually been part of a miracle when he was an Olympic athlete.  It was during the 1980 Winter Olympics.  Mark was part of what has been widely acclaimed as “The Miracle on Ice,” when the U.S. Men’s Hockey Team stunned the world by winning the gold.  It was a singular moment in Olympic history that could best be described by the first half of ABC’s Wide World of Sports slogan at the time – “The thrill of victory!”  In 2002 Sports Illustrated called “The Miracle on Ice,” “The Greatest Sports Moment of the Century.”  But, as Mark Johnson would tell you today, even though he led that team with 11 goals, “The truth is the happiness of victories fades.”

The thrill of “The Miracle on Ice” continues to be a fading memory, revived every four years on U.S. television retrospective commentaries.  The life that Mark and his wife Leslie found in Jesus Christ, however, will never fade.  It is eternal and it is abundant.  And their relationship with Christ keeps getting deeper and stronger.  The miracle in Mark’s life happened as a result of watching his New Jersey teammate, Chico Resch, live out the Christian life boldly and unashamedly, and through the teaching ministry of Dave Bratton, the team chaplain from Athletes in Action.

Today, Mark is the head coach of the University of Wisconsin Womens’ Hockey Team.  His 307-58-28 record makes him the winningest coach in the Badger’s Women’s Hockey Team history.  Under Johnson, the Lady Badgers have won four NCAA titles.  In 2010, Johnson returned to the Olympic arena, coaching the U.S. women’s team to the silver medal.  His personal accomplishments include being an inductee of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame as a player and coach, as well as being separately inducted as a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team.  He is also a member of the IIHF Hall of Fame.

Ultimately, however, Mark will tell you that “I know that my value doesn’t lie in winning championships, but who I am in Christ. God’s love for me, and Jesus’ death and resurrection are the real miracles.”

Information sources include the Athletes in Action and the University of Wisconsin websites.