Buccaneer's Coach Looks To Produce Gems On and Off the Baseball DiamondOctober 27, 2006
By Matt Eichinger, Sharing the Victory Intern
|Baseball Coach Jason Murray|
A true competitor, Jason Murray has never been the type to enjoy losing. As a senior at Ball State University (Ind.), Murray helped lead the Cardinals to their first 40-win season. The young Charleston Southern (S.C.) baseball coach has just wrapped up his second season with the team, finishing the year at 18-38. Although the journey hasn’t been easy during Murray’s time at CSU, his faith in Jesus Christ has helped him to remain strong.
Murray began his walk with Christ during an FCA meeting held at an American Baseball Coaches Association coaching convention he attended in January of 2000. “I owe a lot to FCA, because that’s how I first really got started,” said the Buccaneers’ 32-year-old skipper. Walking by faith has helped Murray to realize a very important fact about baseball—there’s more to it than what shows up on paper. “Definitely the biggest thing I’ve understood is that there is more to the game of baseball than just winning and losing. If we have a kid go through our program and he doesn’t get anything out of it except statistics, then I don’t feel we did our jobs as coaches. We need to touch them and improve them somehow to be better people.”
Charleston Southern freshman pitcher and FCA member Mike Myers enjoys having a coach with such strong faith. “It’s very encouraging,” stated Myers, “I’d never played under a Christian coach before, so having a coach with faith like Coach Murray’s is really cool.” Myers, who made the unusual decision to go on a summer mission trip to New Jersey instead of playing summer baseball, was grateful to have a coach who was encouraging of his choice. “Coach Murray was very supportive of my decision and that cheered me up a lot.”
Last November, Murray and his team faced the greatest of tragedies when they lost a member of their team. Grant Ringenberg, a redshirt freshman for the Buccaneers, had been involved in a verbal altercation with another student that turned physical. The incident ultimately led to Ringenberg’s death. “It’s hard. Obviously no one is prepared for that,” stated Murray. “The only way you can get through a situation like that is to hope that something is going to come out of it that you’re going to learn. It helped me to realize that there are tragedies in this world, but we still have to trust the Lord.”
Murray credits the Ringenberg family for helping the situation by being such a strong example of a Christian family. “Jason’s family was very special, so we got to see firsthand from them how a true family of Christ trusts the Lord.” Although nothing could make losing a player easier on a coach, the strong faith Coach Murray saw in the Ringenberg family helped him put more trust in God.
Trying to make the most of the rough circumstances, Coach Murray used it as a chance to show his faith in God to those around him. “I think the situation opened up doors for teaching opportunities. It allowed us to express our feelings in a completely different way.”
Myers thinks his young coach handled the situation as well as he could have. “It was cool to see him not being afraid to show his emotions in front of all the guys,” Myers stated. “Typically athletes are supposed to be real solid and never cry. Coach Murray helped, because the way he responded to the situation kept us free to show what we were really feeling.”
The toughest thing for Murray about losing a player was trying not to blame himself or wondering if there was something he could have done to prevent it. He feels that the best way to approach coaching is to “have an open door policy for your kids so they can always come and talk to you.” Murray would like the norm when it comes to chats between coaches and players to be less, “Hey you’re not hitting,” and more, “What’s going on in your life?”
Coach Murray’s open approach with his players continues to positively impact many lives and displays true Christian leadership. And it all began with an FCA meeting.
This story appeared on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes website in August 2006 and is republished with permission.