Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Cameron Brock shines light of Christ as American Ultimate Disc League's all-time leading scorer

Cameron Brock jumped in the air, stretched out his arm and snagged the frisbee disc, scoring the third goal of the game for his team, the Indianapolis AlleyCats of the American Ultimate Disc League. The goal was simply one of many impressive plays during Brock’s eight-year career in the AUDL. It was also one of the most memorable.

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Brock’s leaping grab on July 6, 2019, the penultimate game of the regular season, marked the 500th goal of his career. He is the first player in AUDL history to reach that prodigious scoring milestone.

The AlleyCats would go on to beat the Chicago Wildfire that day, 24-21, and clinch the division title. Brock would go on to score four more goals in the final game of the season and in the playoffs.

A couple of days after the milestone accomplishment, Brock — also a 31-year-old seventh grade English teacher — took to Twitter in a 36-tweet essay to reflect on the historic moment, the people who helped him on his meandering eight-year journey to 500 and the difficulties he faced along the way.

“This is basically a love letter to everyone that believed in me,” Brock wrote. “Everyone that took time to invest in my life, ultimate, and otherwise. You’ve been what’s pushed me when I felt like I was running on empty.”

***

The sport of ultimate frisbee has been around for decades, but the AUDL only began play in 2012. It is the only men’s professional ultimate league.

When Brock heard that the Indianapolis franchise was holding tryouts, the 23-year-old, fresh out of Ball State University, jumped at the opportunity. He made the team, was named an offensive starter and got to work scoring goals — 63 that season.

However, in May 2013, Brock’s second season, his body failed him.

He suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage on the right side of his head during a conditioning session, and strokes like these are often considered life-threatening. During the ordeal, Brock clung to the seemingly only stable thing in his life: a rooted faith in Christ. He felt the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, holding him securely.

“I didn’t really feel this sense of dread or uncertainty,” Brock told Sports Spectrum recently. “I just kind of felt like, regardless of what happened, that it was all going to turn out for the good.”

Brock knew God had promised him ultimate good in his future, but he didn’t quite expect it to come in the form of a full recovery after only a couple weeks. But that’s just what happened. Brock has no long-term effects, and through it all, Brock only missed one AUDL game. It is the only game he has missed in his eight-year career.

***

In no time, Brock was back to scoring goals in bunches. Yet Brock would soon be faced with a second major career hurdle. Only this time it came not as a medical concern, but a spiritual one.

As the years passed and Brock continued to post big scoring numbers, somewhere along the line the game of ultimate had ceased to become fun, and instead felt like a burden on his soul. By the end of his fifth season, he thought it might be his last.

Brock felt the sport’s “party culture” was harming the faith that Christ had been cultivating in him since his final year of college, back when his career began.

“Going back to that culture, those people, it’s challenging,” Brock told Sports Spectrum, “because it is a reminder and kind of takes me back to a time when I wasn’t really who I am today.”

***

Brock was raised by a single mother in Indiana, and every Sunday, they would drive a couple hours from wherever they lived to Speedway, Indiana — home of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — to attend church with his grandfather. Yet when his grandfather passed away, the trips to church grinded to a halt.

“All of middle school, all of high school, all of college, I had no faith to speak of whatsoever, and really just didn’t know what to believe in, if there was something to believe in,” Brock said. “Toward the end of my last year of undergrad (at Ball State) was when I kind of started to question it and really dig into what it was that I believed in.”

Brock admired the believers in his life. They were just like his grandfather had been. They lived every day with an unshakable joy, even in the midst of some of life’s greatest pains. Brock even began going back to that same church in Speedway. Only now, God had given him new eyes.

“Through a lot of time in Scripture and a lot of time that summer between grad school and undergrad, just being able to reflect and kind of be on my own, that is when I came to my faith,” Brock said. “I credit a lot of that to my grandpa.”

While God was working in Brock’s heart, he was working to bring Brock’s mother back to Himself as well. In addition, Brock was married to a woman of faith, Casey, and the couple has now been married for six years. They just had their first child, a son named Calvin, in early March.

“When you are a Christian in the ultimate community, you are representing a very large group of people and there’s not a lot of other people that are helping to represent that group, so it’s all on you to prove what a Christian is supposed to look like, which is a lot of pressure,” he said.

Brock wasn’t too fond of the pressure he was feeling by the end of his fifth year. In fact, he said that what sustained him was simply letting go and leaning on God to bear the burden that he could not.

“We need to stay in community to rely on God and rely on the sacrifice of Jesus,” Brock said, “instead of relying on what you can do.”

He devoted himself to his training, and he heard that the AlleyCats were adding some new pieces to the team that would make them more competitive. Brock’s second career crisis had been averted. He would return.

***

The wide-eyed 23-year-old who tried out for the AlleyCats is a much different person than the 31-year-old who now roams the AUDL fields. Rookies now ask him for pointers. Coaches now trust him to know just what to say. He’s enjoyed every bit of being a mentor, and he will play “until my knees give out or they tell me I’m not good enough anymore.”

But perhaps the biggest pleasure of playing for the past eight years is that Brock has been able to witness the growth of the Christian community in the AUDL. He said it appears that the number of the league’s believers has grown each year, especially on his team and on teams like the Dallas Roughnecks.

“Hearing how things have grown in Dallas and seeing how things have kind of grown here in Indy just from a faith perspective has been a big motivating factor,” Brock said.

Before each game, the Christ-followers on the AlleyCats meet up for a moment of prayer. Sometimes, especially early on in Brock’s career, the group consisted of him and maybe one or two others. Now, the number of attendees has increased. After each game, the group meets again to pray in the middle of the field and invites the opposing team to participate as well.

Brock said he and others keep a database of believers from around the AUDL to keep tabs on the league’s state of faith and promote that faith in the cities in which they play.

“We are going to develop some sort of network for creating devotionals and sharing stuff that we talk about in our own individual small groups within our team,” he said.

***

While Brock is sitting on 504 career goals, he may have to wait a little bit longer than usual to continue to add to his total.

Like almost every major sporting event, the AUDL has delayed the beginning of its season. The league announced on March 12 that the beginning of the season, previously set for April 4, would be suspended indefinitely. The hope is that a full 12-game regular season will still be played.

For Brock, the delay simply presents the next twist in a career that has seen a lot of them. He didn’t stop on his journey to 500 goals — not for a stroke and not for a crisis of purpose. He knows God was with him then, he knows God is with him in this pandemic and he knows God will be with him when his next great journey in life begins.

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