Freshmen Outreach


Freshmen Outreach

Connecting freshman athletes with a caring, Christ-centered community

Katie Neff

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For collegiate athletes, the start of a new school year also marks the beginning of a new season, the next step in an ongoing quest for victory. For freshman athletes in particular, this new start comes with much unknown as they navigate being away from home and face many questions, like: 

  • Will I be able to earn a starting spot on my team? 
  • Who will my friends be? 
  • Can I meet the demands of both my sport and academics? 

For the Christian athlete, there are additional questions: In the midst of a busy schedule, new temptations and new freedoms, is it possible to make my faith a priority? How do I grow? 

Gabbi Jenkins, a softball player at Indiana University knows this conundrum all too well. 

“I was looking for community … longing for people who would build me up in my faith,” says Gabbi, reflecting back on her freshman year. “And that is what I found at AIA.”

Athletes in Action® (AIA) exists to assist athletes looking for support on their spiritual journey. AIA helps athletes build a community of like-minded athletes and connects them to mentors who can encourage them in their faith in a way that fits within the many demands of college sports. 

One of the tools that AIA uses to connect with freshmen are Freshman Athlete Survival Tools, or FAST packs. Each FAST pack includes things like: 

  • an athlete’s Bible
  • access to faith and sport resources
  • invitations to local AIA ministries and events
  • opportunities to connect with a caring community … and ultimately Jesus
  • AIA stress ball
  • water bottle
  • nutritious snacks

Year after year, AIA has seen God use FAST packs to build connections with athletes from varying backgrounds — those who are looking to grow in their faith as well as those who haven’t yet met Jesus. These connections lead to meaningful spiritual conversations and discipleship opportunities. 

“I’ve been discipled, which means just getting to learn from someone who maybe is a little bit older than me, a little bit wiser than me,” shares Gabbi, describing her experience with AIA. “And we get to meet all together to hear from speakers and learn what it looks like to share our faith through sport.” 

This year, the goal is to distribute FAST packs to 5,000 students at 25 campuses across the country. With each pack delivered comes the chance to walk alongside a young athlete hungry for guidance and encouragement who needs to hear of the hope that is found in Christ. 

We’re all looking to go to war in sport — we’re looking for victory,” Gabbi says. “But I think before we do any of that, we have to realize that real victory is found in our Savior.”

Please act today to put FAST packs in the hands of freshman athletes.