Off -Court Discipleship is Built Upon Seminary Student’s On-Court Coaching
By Jagger Eastman
One of the great blessings of my experience as a student at Asbury Theological Seminary has come through an unexpected opportunity on another campus. Being an avid basketball fan, upon my arrival on campus I reached out to Will Shouse, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Asbury University. Coach Shouse listened to my interest, and then brought me on board as a volunteer. That volunteer position later transitioned into my being named a Varsity Assistant Coach and Junior Varsity Head Coach.
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Photo by Asbury University Sports Information Department. (Eastman pictured in purple sport coat)[/caption]
Alongside my work as an Asbury University assistant basketball coach, my wife, Anna, is the head cheerleading coach. Our joint desire to be in relationship and community with student athletes has helped shape us in deep and meaningful ways. Asbury University is a Christian institution, so Coach Shouse also welcomed me as a spiritual leader for the team. I have been given countless opportunities to not only coach basketball on the court, but lead workouts, create scouting reports, schedule games, and more. Yet even with these great opportunities, I have been more fortunate to lead in ministry off-court through small groups, devotionals, prayer, scripture reading, and team fellowship.
The 2016-2017 season with the men’s basketball team was more than I could have ever imagined, as we played the University of Kentucky in historic Rupp Arena on the SEC Network. The opportunity to match up with a basketball giant such as Kentucky was truly an experience I will never forget. However, as amazing as meeting Coach John Calipari, many future NBA players, coaching in front of 20,000 people, and being on national television was, it didn’t compare to what happened after that game.
Our coaching staff emphasizes that everything our team does is to honor and glorify God, because God is the one who blesses us with talents and opportunities. At the end of each game, our team huddles together at half-court to pray and thank God for all He has done, and the game at Kentucky was no different. Following a tough loss, we were still able to get a “win,” as our team huddled together at half court to honor and glorify God through prayer.
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Photo by Anna Eastman.(Eastman pictured far right)[/caption]
While I do consider my work as a coach as important and vital, I also know that the most valuable work God has placed before me is to be a spiritual leader and example for these young men. My classes at Asbury Theological Seminary are equipping me with the knowledge that I need in order to build relationships, disciple, and develop other spiritual leaders. We are all blessed with opportunities to be examples of God’s love to this world, and serving the basketball team is a unique opportunity with which I have been blessed.
I wish to thank each person who contributes to the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Foundation, as you have not only contributed to my seminary education and my future ministry, but are an important partner in true seed-sowing within the Asbury University Men’s Basketball Team. Without your love, prayers, and support I never would have been able to attend Asbury or have God open this door of basketball ministry. My wife and I are eternally grateful for the ways that you have blessed our family and have allowed God’s calling on our lives become a reality.
-Jagger Eastman, 24, is a third-year student at Asbury Theological Seminary and graduate of Huntingdon College. He is a member of Millbrook (Ala.) United Methodist Church and intends to pursue ordination as an elder upon graduation.