Football, faith journey to growth for two players
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 01:02
When it comes to religion and sports, many athletes try to keep it to themselves, but for football players David Burdetsky and Matt Floyd, their sport is their mission field.
The redshirt freshmen long snapper and quarterback are Christians, and believe God has called them to reach out to their teammates.
Both have similar backgrounds. Both grew up in a Christian homes. Both played football.
What separates them is their journey.
Though Floyd grew up in a Christian home, he said he initially rejected religion and saw no use for it.
“I didn’t want anything to do with it,” he said. “I was having success and having fun. I didn’t see any reason for it. ”
In Summer 2012, after constant partying and a series of bad relationships, Floyd began to question himself. He wondered if he belonged at USF or if he deserved to play quarterback for the football team.
He decided to give faith a chance, he said.
“I’ll start reading. I’ll start praying. I’ll start listening to your (Christian) music,” Floyd said. “I’m giving you (God) a chance because I rejected you the entire time.”
Once Floyd began to pray, he said his mentality and outlook on life changed. He started to feel healthy again and credits God for it.
Unlike Floyd, Burdetsky embraced his religion early on. The more he read the Bible, the more he said he realized that he shouldn’t be seeking for his own glory.
“Over the past few years, God has really called me to pick up my cross and follow him and denying myself everyday,” Burdetsky said.
The two met each other through football last year, but were more like teammates than friends until someone told Burdetsky to pray for someone to grow close with on the team.
The following week, on the road for a game at a hotel, Floyd approached him and asked him if he attended any campus ministries. Burdetsky replied yes.
Burdetsky told Floyd about the Navigators, a worldwide Christian organization with a chapter on campus, and offered to take him to one of their meetings., and Floyd went.
Since then, the two have grown in their faith and have become friends.
Professional athletes such as Tim Tebow, Ray Lewis and Kurt Warner who have publicly spoken about their faith have inspired Burdetsky and Floyd to share it and relate with others.
“It definitely gives you courage to step out more because you’re not alone, and you hear more and more about other people who do it too,” Floyd said. “I think they definitely help for us.”
Before they step on the field, Burdetsky and Floyd pray together along with other teammates.
When it comes to struggling on the field, both said they try to keep Christ in mind and not allow it to fluster them. They also said prayer is a way for them to keep calm in moments of struggle.
Though they’re bold about sharing their faith and with others on the team, Burdetsky and Floyd said sometimes their teammates don’t want to discuss religion, but do respect their decision.
Together, they have started a Bible study group of about 10 to 13 guys among their teammates and have expanded it to baseball players. They hope extend the invitation to other sports such as tennis.
Their faith, they said, reflects their character.
“My faith is me,” Burdestky said. “My faith is what I hope defines me and my love for Christ because what he’s done for me. I look at my opportunity to play on the football team as an opportunity from God.”