Athlete Testimonies:

Dan Naulty

Dan Naulty was in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. When he added over 50 pounds of bulk and muscle to his 185-pound, 6'6'' body and his fastball increased almost 10 mph, people knew there was something going on. But those in the baseball arena largely turned a blind eye to the evidence. That is, until Naulty came clean.

Steroids, amphetamines, and other drugs had ruined him in many ways. When he should have been on the top of the world after winning the 1999 World Series with the NY Yankees, he was instead contemplating suicide. But he began to notice the steady faith of some of his Christian teammates. They showed him the love and support he needed. Because of the difference he saw in them, he knew he wanted what they had, which led to him accepting Christ as his Savior in 2000.

Since then, Naulty has gotten married, had kids, earned more degrees, and shared his powerful testimony countless times. His entire life vision has been transformed, as evidenced by the fact that he can now say, "I've come to realize that my identity is wrapped up in Christ, in the Holy Spirit, in total forgiveness."


Danny and Jessica Wuerffel

After Hurricane Katrina, Sports Spectrum caught up with former NFL quarterback Danny Wuerffel and his wife Jessica for an honest conversation about their home, their ministry (Desire Street Ministries), and their city (New Orleans).

Sports Spectrum: What were your thoughts and emotions as Hurricane Katrina was closing in on New Orleans?

Danny: At first, it almost felt like the boy who cried wolf. It seemed like we had done this every year. So initially it was almost more of an inconvenience or a nuisance. Everything got more and more eerie as the storm got closer, and we started to realize this could be the storm that New Orleans had feared for decades.

Sports Spectrum: How has Desire Street Ministries been affected by Hurricane Katrina?

Danny: We felt that we needed to provide an opportunity for our school to continue. So we began a massive search for sites that could serve as a boarding school. It's a long and crazy story, but we found a camp in Florida.

Sports Spectrum: What do the words Hurricane Katrina mean to you?

Jessica: Most of the people I have spoken with are seeing this as an opportunity-not a hindrance. I think that's really neat!


Dave Downing

Dave Downing is one of the most versatile snowboarders in the world. Highly respected in the industry, he has been named one of the Top 20 snowboarders in the world. But things have changed in the last few years, and Downing is now facing his greatest challenge yet…parenthood. Dave and his wife, two-time Olympic snowboarder Shannon Dunn-Downing, have two boys, Logan (2 years) and Dillon (10 months), and those little guys have the Downing household spinning.

At the core of this marriage of two snowboard superstars is something that might be somewhat unexpected in the world of halfpipes and ollies: Faith. Both Dave and Shannon are born-again Christians.

Maintaining balance and consistency in their family life is a priority for the Downings. And to do that, they make an effort to put God in the driver's seat. "We have God at the center of our marriage, and that's how we want it" says Dave.

Dave is still active in the snowboarding scene, especially in the free-riding area and big mountain riding. Even little Logan has been on a board- maybe someday we'll see him or his baby brother Dillon on the winter's podium. Yet, whatever happens, it's clear that this is one family with the right priorities.


David Pollack

David Pollack's attitude toward life has been refined by his deepening faith in God. "No matter what you're going through, somebody else always has it worse," says Pollack. He made this statement after suffering an injury on September 17, 2006 that altered his life and threatened his career. A man who used to rush down the football field full force could no longer perform basic movements, take care of himself, or even kiss his wife.

With such an instant change to Pollack's quality of life and with his future in football so uncertain, one would expect discouragement and frustration to have marked his outlook. However, the opposite proved true. Of course there were challenges, but Pollack and his wife found strength in one another, even through this trying time. More importantly, Pollack "just sat back and listened to God for 3 months" while he recuperated. "It's awesome the things that God taught me," he says.

Whether or not Pollack will ever play for the Cincinnati Bengals or any other team again is unknown. It's also unimportant. Close friend and teammate Reggie Kelly looks at it this way: "Whatever arena God puts him in...he's going to minister the Word of God."


Deb Patterson

In a collegiate coaching profession in which her passionate and competitive personality are a perfect fit, Deb Patterson remains dedicated to making her Kansas State women's program God's Kansas State women's program.

"They're all God's children," Patterson says of her players. "I want my coaching and my life to be glorifying to God."

Regardless of where players come from or what their faith experience involves, Patterson tells young recruits they will work hard-not only in the eyes of their coaches and teammates, but also in the eyes of the Lord.

"In recruiting is when you have that first moment of complete honesty with them," Patterson says. "I have to be honest about what I expect and I have to be honest about my relationship with Christ."

Because her profession is measured in wins and losses, Patterson insists that her players compete at a level that not only they can be proud of, but that God will be pleased with.

"All of the qualities that Coach P brings to the table in her coaching position are out of this world," junior All-America Kendra Wecker says. "The knowledge she has for the game is unbelievable. She is focused and determined to make us better as players and young women."


Derek Anderson

The "right thing" for Derek Anderson has been to pursue his own path directed by God. It has helped carry him to an NCAA championship with the University of Kentucky ; to a first-round selection in the 1997 NBA draft: to seven straight NBA seasons with double-figure scoring; and now, in his fourth season with the Trail Blazers, captaincy of his team.

"Where the belief came from is a mystery truly known only to God," Anderson says as he explains his journey to Jesus. Anderson knew to reach out for God even if he knew virtually nothing about Him. "I'd just say, 'God, please help me do this and do that.' I had no idea there was God and Jesus and that they were two different people." The result is difficult for Anderson to explain. He simply says, "He basically gave me a vision to see Him without seeing Him, and you can't really describe that."

In being named captain, Anderson clearly earned the respect of his teammates. One way he has earned it is with protectiveness of his teammates motivated by Christian love and compassion.

With excitement that generates a huge smile, Anderson says, "God is giving me direction and focus. I'm on my way."


Derek Fisher

Derek Fisher is practicing at Santa Monica College, where his new team, the Golden State Warriors, have come to town to play his old team, the Los Angeles Lakers, in a game that has left Fisher dazed and confused. Here he was in Warrior blue, guarding Kobe Bryant and Kareem Rush in an actual game.

It's been an emotional roller coaster ride for Fisher. Nonetheless, with God as his guide, he remains assured he made the right decision. "Ultimately it came down to wanting to be in a situation where I could focus more on just doing the things that I need to do as a player and as a believer," he says.

Fisher knows he needs to surround himself immediately with the right people if he's going to keep his game clean-where it needs to be. That's why he is now trying to build his off-the-court team just as the Warriors try to nurture their on-the-court squad. "The challenge a lot of times spiritually is you feel alone," says Fisher. "You need your prayer partners, your pastor at your church, different friends or associates you have that can help you keep that focus."


Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard quickly became a blimp-not a blip-on the NBA draft radar. From a small high school in Georgia with a graduating class of sixteen, Howard went from high school phenom to pro-superstar. He was an 18-year-old who could seemingly have it all.

His successful life began with a sound upbringing, natural ability, intellectual inclination, passion of heart, and spiritual beliefs. The first components are important; the last one is crucial. The Howard family has been living a Christian life throughout Dwight's upbringing. "Basically, since I was a kid, I just talk to God every day," Howard says. Does this mean he's flawless or expects perfection in his Christian walk? Quite the opposite-he's really grounded.

He's set high goals for himself: he wants to be the best. Basketball is his focus, but he realizes there will be many things in competition for that focus. Former teammate Andrew DeClercq, also a Christian, says, "His faith is something he'll need to keep perspective on life."

Howard's father, his mentor in every way, encourages his son with James 2:26, which says that faith without works is dead. Howard has responded to that message; he's working hard to fulfill what he believes is God's call on his


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