New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr has never been one to shy away from publicly sharing his faith in God. It’s no surprise, then, that he was impressed by members of the University of Oklahoma softball team who did the same leading up to and after winning the program’s third straight national championship earlier this month.
A viral video of one of Oklahoma’s press conferences — which actually took place June 6, but many mistakenly thought it took place after their title June 8 — where Sooners stars Grace Lyons, Jayda Coleman and Alyssa Brito explained what faith in Christ meant to the team, caught the attention of Saints star linebacker Demario Davis. Davis then shared it with Carr, his friend and new teammate.
Three national titles in a row. A 53-game winning streak. But the most impressive thing about Oklahoma’s women’s softball team?
— Matt Smethurst (@MattSmethurst) June 10, 2023
Carr said he and Davis, who himself is one of the most outspoken followers of Christ in the NFL and was honored as the 2021 Bart Starr Award recipient, frequently share videos with each other. But this one of young athletes using the biggest moment of their athletic careers to tell the world about Jesus really impacted him.
“I was just inspired by that video, that even in that moment that’s where their mindset was,” Carr said at a press conference during Saints minicamp last week. “What a beautiful thing that is for the younger generation to see, especially this next generation that’s coming. Everybody’s telling them who they should be and all this kind of stuff, and it’s crazy. For those ladies to stand up on their platform, like everyone is allowed to in this country, I thought it was awesome.”
Oklahoma softball is in the midst of one of the best runs of success any college team has ever had, male or female and regardless of the sport. Their third straight championship this year came on the back of a dominant 61-1 season that ended with 53 consecutive wins. The players who have been around for multiple titles are on the mountaintop now, yet they know the valleys will come.
That’s why Brito said it’s never ultimately about the wins or losses on the field.
“You can’t find fulfillment in an outcome, whether it’s good or bad,” Brito said during the press conference. “And I think that’s why we’re so steady in what we do and our love for each other and our love for the game, because we know this game is giving us the opportunity to glorify God.
“I just think once we figured that out and that was our purpose and everyone was all in with that, it’s really changed so much for us.”
NATTY CHAMP x2!!!
Thank you Jesus. ♥️ this team, these girls and all that God has provided this year has been such a blessing!!! Thank you Sooner fans for ALWAYS showing out! pic.twitter.com/oqoZxxETT4
— alyssa brito (@alyss_33) June 10, 2023
Coleman and Lyons added that contentment could only be found in the Lord. It is their faith, they said, that helped them manage the pressure from the outside to perform. They would not be defined by the results on the diamond, Coleman said.
“I think that’s what makes our team so strong is that we’re not afraid to lose because it’s not the end of the world if we do lose,” she said. “Yes, obviously, we worked our butts off to be here and we want to win. But it’s not the end of the world because our life is in Christ and that’s all that matters.”
This message resonated with Carr.
“We’ve had success in this business. It’ll give you happiness for a little bit,” Carr said in his answer about Oklahoma’s viral video. “But true joy comes from the Lord.”
Carr spoke earlier this year at a church about dealing with the highs and lows of his own career. For Carr, 2022-23 was a season marked by disappointing results and on-the-field struggles, eventually leading to his benching in Week 16. In February, he was released from the Las Vegas Raiders, the team he’d started 91 consecutive games for dating back to 2017.
“Aren’t we thankful that whatever it is that God has asked you to do,” Carr said in his sermon, “that He can be the one to just say, ‘Why don’t you just put it in My hands? Why don’t you just give it back to Me?’”
It’s a sentiment he sees lived out in the lives of the Sooners, one he seeks to live by, and one he hopes inspires future generations and followers of Christ in other professional sports as well.
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— OU softball completes 3-peat: ‘This game is giving us the opportunity to glorify God’
— OU softball’s Jayda Coleman finds contentment in Christ as Sooners seek 3-peat