At the conclusion of four sports clinics Sunday evening at the Blair Youth Sports Complex, Nebraska Cornhuskers Director of Player Development Ron Brown had two of his instructors come forward in front of the Eats, Cleats and Beats attendees.
Hastings College volleyball player Claire Ostrand and Nebraska football player Ethan Cox — a former Blair Bear — came forward to do pushups. Brown didn't count or compare the number of pushups the athletes did, he just encouraged them to exude their Biblical learnings through competition and sports.
Gateway to the West Days ended Sunday with the Eats, Cleats and Beats event at the Youth Sports Complex. PassageWay Church was hoping to throw an event for the whole community of Blair, while also providing a connection to faith through the actions and performances.
“They would think, 'I want to do that whether church is involved with it or not,'” Pastor Nick Bank said of the free event, which included food, youth sports clinics conducted by Kingdom Sports and a concert by Christian musician Dan Bremnes. “Each one of the (sports clinic) coaches has a strong Christian faith, and they kind of explain how their faith has shaped their commitment and understanding of sports, and how athletes can compete in a way that honors God.”
In total, about 90 local athletes in grades 3-8 took part in the “Cleats” portion of the event. Brown had three Nebraska football players join him to lead a clinic, including Cox — who is a defensive back — quarterback Andrew Bunch and Norfolk native Lane McCallum, another defensive back.
Nebraska Christian High School coach Tonya Ostrand led the volleyball clinic, while Blair native Matt Thomas led the soccer section. Creighton cross-county coach Chris Gannon and triathlete champion Lincoln Murdoch, meanwhile, coached the runners.
Brown's overall message related to a Bible verse he relayed to the children in attendance. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”
Before the event began, Bank said he hoped the community would enjoy itself. The days lined up so that Kingdom Sports and Dan Bremnes were available, and that Gateway to the West Days would have the community out and about for an event of Eats, Cleats and Beats' magnitude.
“We made some phone calls and it just so happened that everyone's schedules really lined up, which is so unusual,” the pastor said. “And, so, we put it all together and said, 'OK, let's go for it.'”
The line for food was constant and hundreds filled the empty soccer fields at the Youth Sports Complex to watch and listen to Bremnes' show.
“We just want to bless the community and remind people that God likes fun, too,” Bank said.
Young athletes seemingly enjoyed themselves, asking for autographs from Brown as their time with him came to a close.