The past few weeks I have had the opportunity to interview both Pro and College Christian Athletes about their walk with Christ. I asked them to share their story of how Christ has changed their lives and to share what their passion is in life. The question is will stories of athletes who are Christians get on the front of Sports Illustrated, will President Obama call them to congratulate them for standing up, will there be countless articles and tweets about it and will the nation hear their stories.
My mission is to get their name out there, to share their story and to give all the glory to God. Will Watson is one of those names I want to others to know and has a story I want to share. Will plays baseball for Northwestern State University in Louisiana. NSU is in the Southland Conference and are 13-33 overall this season. In 2012, Will Earned post-season honor as second team All-Southland Conference and led the team in batting average, on-base percentage, stolen bases, stolen base percentage, and hit-by-pitch categories. Will was also a two-time All-State player for Lary Hughes at Southlake Carroll High School in South Lake, Texas.
Here is Will’s Story:
Tell me a little about yourself-where u from? family?
I am originally from San Jose, California and I’m named after Will Clark. We moved around a lot as a kid, going from California to Seattle to Dallas in high school. My parents still live in Dallas, and I have a younger sister that attends Dallas baptist university.
What university do you go to? Why did you chose that university? What position do you play?
I go to Northwestern State University a small division one school in Louisiana where I am a communication major with a minor in business. I ended up getting a scholarship offer to play baseball here and had an opportunity to start right away. I play center field and can also play first base.
What is your passion in life?
My passion in life is to tell people about Jesus Christ. After all He has done for me, I just want to make His name know by serving people and loving people.
When did you start your journey with Christ?
I got saved my freshman year at NSU. Growing up on the west coast I went to church a few times but never fully understood the magnitude of the gospel. We went to college athlete retreat within fellowship of Christian athletes. That was the first time that I understood the gospel and was so humbled by it that I could barley stand up when the speaker said stand if you are willing to let Jesus take control of your life.
Who instilled your faith in you?
Without Andy Stroup, my life would be drastically different. He is the FCA chaplain at LSU and he basically was my spiritual father figure. He was there when I got saved, and he is the one that baptized me.
Was there someone one in your life who influenced you spiritually?
At NSU, Randy and Christie Price are the FCA staff members. The Prices have been there for me every day since I got saved. They took me is as their own.
Is there someone now that helps you in your spiritual walk?
Zeb Marcotte is the pastor of the bridge church and we meet once a week to talk about life and get into the word. He is my mentor that pushes me on a daily basis. We are going through the book Multiply right now by Francis chan and David platt. I also am leading a discipleship/accountability group that meets on Friday mornings with some kids on the team that just got saved.
Where do you attend church at?
When I’m at home I go to the Village church, and when I’m at school I attend the Bridge.
Did you ever have to choose between faith and sports growing up and today?
As a kid we were always playing on the weekends so going to church wasn’t really an option for my family. Here at NSU, Randy Price comes on the road with us to do our Sunday morning chapels. It’s tough to get corporate worship time, because we play Tuesday and Wednesday along with the weekend, but I either attend Fca or baptist college ministries to get it in.
Is it hard to be a Christian and play college baseball?
I wouldn’t say that it’s hard, I would say that it’s challenging at times. You are a witness. People are going to see you and try and say well he’s a Christian he’s not allowed to do that. I think that God has given us our talents. He blesses us everyday, so how we life our lives both on and off the field will show what Jesus has done and is doing in our lives.
Any great stories of how you have witness to others about Jesus?
Sometimes when I’m playing first base if a runner gets on I will ask him, but the best part of this year was in January watching two teammates get saved. College athlete retreat was going on and it’s the first weekend that we start practices, so we were only up there for probably two hours max. It’s about an hour away and I convinced a couple of guys to come with me. On the way up there we were talking about what Jesus meant to them and it was kind of like “well he’s a good guy”. We get there just in time to hear the speaker and within 15 minutes, both kids were balling their eyes out standing up saying that they are in desperate need of Jesus.
Is there anyone who has changed your life or inspired you in your walk?
Other than the people listed, I would say Christian professional athletes. The world doesn’t have very many solid believers who are playing sports, so I look to guys like Tim Tebow, Jeremy Lin, and even friends of mine like Ryan Matthews. Within college athletics I’ve been blessed to get to know people such as Mary Michel Maggio, Andrew Lacombe, Justin Gordey, and Josh Jones who went about playing sports in college the right way.
Does your teammates know you’re a Christian?
Yes they give me a hard time about it, but most of the time it’s good natured.
Has sports challenged your faith?
I would say my faith has changed the way I view sports. It used to be I was going to do anything that I possibly could to play professional baseball. After I got saved I realized that that was an idol and that now everything I do on a baseball field is worship to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ.
What does it mean to be a role model?
I think that being a role model is being able to leave a legacy. If you go to a four year school out of high school like I did, you only have 4 years to make an impact on people’s lives. Out reaching to the community is big. In four years people won’t remember the stats you put up or the home runs you hit, but they will remember you for the type of person you were and how hard you played.
Is it hard as a Christian athlete w temptations that are all around you?
Yes, there is temptation everywhere even at a small school. There are girls and alcohol around every corner. The need for accountability is even greater now within college.
Before a game do you spend time in prayer?
Yeah I like praying throughout the national anthem. Just asking for God to use me in the game for His glory. Asking for a humble heart through every circumstance that happens throughout the game and to just stay focused on Him and not drift away.
Does the team pray?
Yes about 15 minutes before the game I lead the prayer out in the outfield.
Is there other teammates who share your faith?
Yeah there are about 5 of us that meet Friday mornings to dig into the word and keep each other accountable. It’s nice having other believers on the team to have your back within locker room talks.
Proverbs 24:16 “for a righteous man falls 7 times, he will rise again, as the wicked will stumble into calamity.”
What verse has been the most powerful to you with your walk with Christ and how has it?
I would say that verse. The only way we are made righteous is through Jesus Christ. Even when we are in Christ we will fall to temptation. The beauty of it is that we are his children and we will rise up again and continue the purification process that God is working on us. It also shows without Christ, your sin will continue to drag you down and that it will lead you into ruin.
I hope you can tell by now why I wanted to share with you Will’s story. Will is on fire for God and is willing to share the great message with everyone he comes in contact with, even the batters that make it to first base. I’m so thankful we have young men like Will who are willing to stand up for Jesus. Thanks Will for sharing your heart, passion and life with us. May God continually bless you in your daily steps.