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Spiritual walk leads Eagles to cool Mossy Creek currents

Alan Duncan (left) and Marty Blakely baptize Carson-Newman offensive lineman Gary LaPrarie of McEwen, Tennessee.

In a scene not commonly witnessed on a college campus, members of Carson-Newman University’s football team gathered after last Thursday’s practice along the banks of Mossy Creek. The assembly took place less than 48 hours prior to the Eagles’ home opener. With Burke-Tarr Stadium only a couple hundred yards away, the players’ minds were on something even more important than Saturday’s game.

Fourteen members of Carson-Newman’s football team entered the chilly waters of Mossy Creek to be baptized. They were joined by two female students who serve on the football video staff, as they too made faith decisions. As players and members of the C-N community lined the grassy banks in support, the 16 entered – one by one. The public professions of faith was officiated by Marty Blakely, director of Lakeway’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Alan Duncan, who serves as associate pastor at Morristown’s Manley Baptist Church.

“This is the most important thing I could be doing this afternoon,” Blakely said. “This is the public proclamation of what God has done in these students lives. What a great testimony to get baptized in front of your teammates on campus in Mossy Creek.”

For sophomore offensive lineman Gary LaPrarie, the event was about recommitting his life to the Lord. He credits Blakely for leading him in rededication his freshman year of high school. “When they first brought up the baptism a few weeks ago, I just got super excited. It was just a heartfelt moment for Marty to baptize me,” said LaPrarie, who is a communication major with a business marketing emphasis. “It was a very special moment to be with the team and dedicate my life again to Christ. I’m ready to show them that we can live for the Lord and still play the sport we love.”

Eagles Head Football Coach Mike Clowney says the afternoon scene was extremely meaningful. “I believe football is the greatest game ever created. It is a game that demands great passion and perseverance. These are also critical elements required for our spiritual walk,” Clowney said. “As a coach, seeing our student-athletes make a public profession for Christ is exciting. 

Joining those gathered was Carson-Newman President Charles A. Fowler, who said the event offered a glimpse into the heart of the University. “It’s hard not to be moved when you see these young men and women each giving their lives to Christ, and to do so surrounded by a campus community that loves and supports them,” said Fowler. “As a Christ-centered university, we always strive to prepare our students for careers and life beyond graduation. I can think of no better example of this than what we saw this afternoon. My prayer for these students is that they will walk closely with the Lord in the days ahead and never forget that God has a special plan for them.”

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