To make a donation, please click on the button below.

Ana Shirley

Position: Early Development Director
About Me
I grew up a military brat, but finally put some roots down in Charlotte, NC—and am the city’s number #1 fan! I get fired up about people having a chance at hope, families lives being transformed, and investing in young leaders. It’s a great day to be an Eagle. Soli Deo Gloria!!!
How & Why I Became a MAI Missionary
I began the wild journey of following Jesus as a sophomore in college. It was at that time that I became involved with the ministry of Young Life & met our now Executive Director, Cliff Wright. Once the opportunity presented itself—I knew that I wanted to be a part of this mission. I love giving my life away and love the concept that we could roll out a soccer ball to start a conversation…eventually with the hopes of sharing with them about Jesus.

Ana Shirley

Early Development Director

Please click on the link below to support Ana

Bailey Law

Position: Neighborhood Leader & Executive Asst.

About me:

Hi! My name is Bailey and I’m from Huntersville, NC. I grew up in church (my dad is a pastor) but it wasn’t until I was 13 at a youth summer camp that my relationship with Jesus really began. In May of 2022 I graduated from Appalachian State, where I majored in Community Development and was deeply involved in RUF. I am passionate about helping people know their worth in Jesus. I love to run, spend time with my friends and family, and listen to Andrew Peterson.

How & Why I Became a MAI Missionary:

A few years ago, I was posed these two questions: who are you, and what breaks your heart? I was told that answering these two questions can help you figure out where God is specifically calling you to cultivate his kingdom. So who am I? Some of that was answered above, but at my core I am a daughter of the King of kings, and that is my identity. Everything I am goes back to the truth of my deep sinfulness and his love for me that is greater than my sin.

So, after all of that, what breaks my heart? Increasingly over the years, God has broken my heart for the marginalized. For the inequalities of our society that hold some people back while setting others at an advantage. For the families who are struggling to make ends meet. For kids who don’t have anyone looking out for them. But most of all, for people who don’t know the depth of the love of Jesus for them. For people who live without hope and without light.

My dream is to see communities and neighborhoods go from death to life. The neighborhoods we serve are certainly in need of improved public education, better access to health care, and more affordable housing. These things are important to the well being of a community, but in Christ is where we find the only true key to transformation. My dream is to see a neighborhood not only get healthier and care for its members better, but to see a neighborhood and a community go from death in sin to life in Christ. That’s the heart of real transformation, and it is only possible through the grace and power of Jesus. That’s why I’m here!

Bailey Law

Neighborhood Leader & Executive Asst.

Please click on the link below to support Bailey

Blair Anderes

Position: Athletic Trainer & Intern Coordinator

About me:

I grew up in Charlotte, NC basically obsessed with the game of soccer. My childhood was full of tournaments, practices, and just kicking the ball around in my backyard. I couldn’t get enough and eventually I made the decision to play collegiately. I began my freshman year at Ole Miss but soon transferred back to my home state to play at Appalachian State University. The Lord used both the joys and challenges of college athletics to open my eyes to His love, strengthen my faith, and set a fire in my soul to share His Gospel. After undergrad I chose to stay in the beautiful Appalachian mountains for another couple years to complete my Master’s in Athletic Training. I am so honored to be a part of such an amazing organization and serve as the Head Athletic Trainer here at the Charlotte Eagles!

 

How and why I became a MAI missionary:

I had the opportunity to play for the Lady Eagles WPSL team during my time as a college athlete. I was taught how to use the game of soccer as a platform to further the name of Christ. Years later, in 2021, while pursing my Master’s in Athletic Training I was invited back as a summer intern and taught how to use my career as a platform to share the Gospel. After that internship I was offered the position as the Charlotte Eagles’ Head Athletic Trainer. Looking back God has been training me for something so unique and specific to the gifts and passions he has given me. I couldn’t think of a better opportunity to glorify my King! God is so good!

Blair Anderes

Athletic Trainer & Intern Coordinator

Please click on the link below to support Blair

Chris McClellan

Chris McClellan

Position: Academy Dir. & Technical Dir.

About me: 

I was born and raised in Colorado. I attended Colorado Christian University, where I played soccer and met my wife, Abby. We have now, been married over 18 years and have three boys: Evan, Brayden, and Tyeson. After college, I pursued a professional soccer career which, allowed me an opportunity to play for the Charlotte Eagles from 2003-2006. The Lord lead our family to Raleigh in 2007 where I finished out my playing career and where all 3 of our boys were born. In 2015, our family followed the Lord’s leading to Roanoke, VA where I became the director of coaching for a soccer club. I am looking forward to this new opportunity that the Lord has given to be on staff with the Charlotte Eagles.

 

How and why I became a MAI missionary:

While in college, an assistant coach challenged me to spend my summer with AIA in British Columbia, learning how to integrate my faith with my passion for soccer. After college, I had the opportunity to play with the Charlotte Eagles where I learned sports ministry, and how to use soccer as a platform to share my faith.

As a coach, my passion has been to create character and development pathways for players to help them achieve new levels in both soccer and personal life. Becoming a missionary at MAI will integrate my faith based training as a player and in personal life with my professional work as a coach.

In recent conversations with the Charlotte Eagles staff, the Lord has stirred a passion in me and made it clear that He is leading our family to come alongside the current staff to create the most elite level soccer program for the purpose of sharing the message of Jesus Christ. I look forward to the opportunity to introduce players and families to Christ, encourage and push them in their relationship with Christ, and help them understand how to better use their athletic gifts and talents as an act of worship.

Chris McClellan

Academy Dir. & Technical Dir.

Please click on the link below to support Chris

Collin Smith

Position: North Charlotte Coordinator

About me
Born in Houston but I call Charlotte home! I drink coffee like it’s water. I love Isaiah 25. I would rather be outside than inside. I could watch Sahara over and over again.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary
I had the opportunity to be involved in few different branches of the Eagles during my time as a college student. God used the time spent with the PDL/USL2 teams as well as my time spent in neighborhood ministry to really shape me in meaningful ways. I love the game of soccer and have seen God use it to build relationships and form young people into disciples of Christ. I really believe Charlotte is better off with the work MAI does and I am excited I get to be a part of it. I also really love Eagles apparel and saw this as an opportunity to cash in.

Collin Smith

North Charlotte Coordinator

Please click on the link below to support Collin

Dalton Georgopulos

Dalton Georgopulos

Position: Urban Eagles Neighborhood Coach

About me:

Hello! I’m Dalton Georgopulos. I have a huge heart for Jesus and expanding His Kingdom. I love the game of soccer and have played all my life. I am here to combine the game with sharing the Good News of Jesus!

How and why I became a MAI missionary:

I feel called to teach others about Jesus and I want to see many people to come to know the Lord in an intimate way.

Dalton Georgopulos

Urban Eagles Neighborhood Coach

Please click on the link below to support Dalton

Dave & Carolyn Urban

Position: President CEO | Director of Human Resources

About me

We are originally from the Philadelphia area and moved to Charlotte in 2013. I spent over 20 years in the field of higher education overseeing enrollment and building strategic partnerships with various different organizations. I also co-founded and am partner in Charter Oak Research, which has provided marketing, research, executive search, strategic planning, and consulting services to over 50 clients, including Christian and private schools, colleges, and seminaries in addition to several other business organizations. I hold both Bachelors and Masters degrees in Business Administration from Eastern University. My wife Carolyn graduated from Eastern University and spent 11 years coaching the women’s lacrosse team there, prior to stepping away to raise our three children.

How and why we became MAI missionaries

Dave started playing soccer at the age of 5 and had the privilege of being coached by his dad until going off to college. The foundation of teaching he received had a significant impact on his life. During his college years he came to know Christ as my Savior through the environment of his college soccer team. He went on to coach at both the HS and Collegiate level which further prepared him for a role that we did not know would be in his future. When the opportunity came up to be a part of the ministry of MAI, whose mission is to glorify God and see lives transformed by sharing the message of Jesus Christ through the global environment of soccer, it was a natural fit.  The mission of MAI is what drew Carolyn in too, because she saw first hand through her lacrosse coaching years, the impact that sports can have on the lives of players through the environment of a team.

Dave & Carolyn Urban

President CEO | Director of Human Resources

Please click on the link below to support the Urbans.

David Herrera

Position: S. Blvd. Coordinator

About me: 

I was born and raised in Cali, Colombia where my passion for futbol was I everything I knew. As my mom would put it, “David would get home after school, drop his school bag, and run outside to kick the ball until late in the evening on a daily basis.” That passion still runs in me. Since immigrating to the US at an early age, God has worked in me, and I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior in middle school. I lived in rebellious state most of my HS years where I would only pray to God or go to church when I needed something from Him. I knew that God was bigger than that and that He wanted me to surrender to Him, but I did not want to. I got tired of running away from Him, and I decided to recommit my life to Him right out of HS. That’s when I started to see purpose, identity, and love in Christ. During that time of surrender, God changed me into the man that I am today. It was the best decision I have ever made. He equipped and blessed me as I played college soccer where I got to share God’s love with my teammates, and was blessed to appear in 3 national championship tournaments and 1 national championship. I met Noelle through that time, and we now have two children; our daughter Briana and our son Samuel! God is good.

 

How & why I became a MAI Missionary? 

I was raised a Catholic, but at an early age my parents started attending an evangelical church just before we immigrated to the US. It was at this new church that I started learning God’s purpose in our lives, which is to have an intimate relationship with Him.

Soccer and God have always been around my life, and when I discovered sports ministry in HS, I was shocked that those two passions could work together! I was a leader at a church retreat in Charlotte where Cody Snouffer shared the Urban Eagles’ ministry through Charlotte Eagles, and I was moved by the work they do and thrilled at how soccer is key to their ministry. I got connected with him, and I volunteered for 1.5 yrs. Since then, I have been involved with different sports ministries such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Uncharted Waters. Through my friend and mentor Paul Shedd, I was blessed to go on a soccer missionary trip to Cuba with MAI. It was an experience that greatly impacted my life. Now God has called me to work full-time as missionary, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store in this new journey.

David Herrera

S. Blvd. Coordinator

Please click on the link below to support David

Gabby Kouzelos

Position: Assistant Director of Women's Programming

About me:

I grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio with my two incredible parents, Mike and Stacey, and my amazing older sister, Katherine. I have played soccer and loved being around people for as long as I can remember. I moved to Louisville in 2016 to play collegiate soccer for the University of Louisville. During my time in college, God’s love and the truths of Scripture became real to me and transformed my life. In 2022, God called me into full time ministry and asked me to give up soccer to pursue Him with my whole heart.

I then joined a 2 year residency program at Southeast Christian Church to be trained in what it looks like to do ministry as your vocation. During those 2 years I grew in my knowledge of the Bible, my spiritual formation, and got hands on ministry experience. The Lord has been so kind to ask me to give soccer to him so that he could give it back to me in the most beautiful way. I now get the joy of combining my love for soccer, people, and Jesus through working for the Charlotte Eagles! I cannot wait to coach and disciple women to know Jesus more.

Psalm 100: 5 – “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

 

How & Why I became a missionary with MAI:

I have been blessed and deeply impacted by this ministry since 2018. I played for the Lady Eagles every summer in college from 2018-2021. It was in Charlotte that I learned what sports ministry looked like and how it could multiply to impact my teammates in Louisville. God has given me a passion for people, soccer, and himself for my whole life. Joining the Charlotte Eagles is an opportunity to combine all of my passions into one.

I cannot wait to see what God will do through the Charlotte Eagles to spread his name, make disciples of Jesus, and watch it multiply across the country and to “the ends of the earth.” In God’s kindness, he has brought me back to serve the place that reignited my love for soccer and showed me what sports ministry can do to further his kingdom!

Gabby Kouzelos

Assistant Director of Women's Programming

Please click on the link below to support Gabby

Hannah Smedley

Position: Resident

About Me:

Hi! My name is Hannah, and I grew up in Washington, D.C. I graduated from Wheaton College, where I studied International Relations and History. The Lord has worked through the loving ministry of my family, pastors, and mentors to bring me to a saving knowledge of himself. As I have grown up in Christian community, God has given me a heart for sharing his love with others. I love being outside, exploring new cities, and finding good coffee. I am so excited to be a part of the Charlotte Eagles, where I get to share the good news of Christ in a cross-cultural community and see him work in the lives of others.

How & Why I became a MAI Missionary:

In high school, I had the opportunity to work at a camp in Romania, where I played endless hours of soccer with the children. On this trip, I experienced the beauty of how soccer unites people across cultures and builds relationships. After this trip, I knew that I wanted to work in a cross-cultural community, but I never thought that I would be able to combine my love for soccer with my work. During my time in college, God gave me a heart for ministry and discipleship, as I experienced the joy of mentoring middle school girls through Young Life. When I learned about the Charlotte Eagles Urban Program, I knew that this was where the Lord had prepared me to be. The work of the Urban Eagles aligns with my heart for youth ministry, my love for different cultures, and my passion for soccer. The Lord has worked through the ministry of so many people to encourage and deepen my faith, and I am excited to have the opportunity to encourage others in the Lord as an MAI missionary.

Hannah Smedley

Resident

Please click on the link below to support Hannah

Hozehna Shar

Position: Urban Eagles East Charlotte Assistant

About me:
My name is Hozehna Shar. My family and I came to the U.S. from a refugee camp in Thailand when I was 10 years old. My parents had fled Burma to the camp 14 years before and started their family there in the Thailand refugee camp. I am the oldest of 6 kids – 4 of whom were born in the camp. I speak 4 languages (Karenni, Karen, Burmese, and English). Community service has been a huge part of my life. I currently am involved and volunteer with multiple nonprofit agencies, including Refugee Support Services, and OurBridge. I’ve been a volunteer at Refugee Support Services since before I graduated from high school; I help distribute donated foods and toys, translate for Karenni and Karen program participants, and help refugees apply for naturalization and study for their citizenship tests. During my free time, I love to cook and spend time with my family and friends, especially playing soccer, volleyball, and board games.
How & why I became a MAI Missionary?
I became an MAI missionary because I want to share the Gospel with families, friends, and youth of all ages in my neighborhood. I want the next generation to hear the good news and gain a desire to see it and feel it as a positive focus of their lives. It is my prayer to see children in various neighborhoods (East Charlotte and areas outside of Charlotte as well) get to know Christ. I pray that the middle school girls I work with in a soccer environment will want to continue to grow and worship Him. I pray that families from all nations in my community will get to know Christ and allow their sons and daughters to follow God.

Hozehna Shar

Urban Eagles East Charlotte Assistant

Please click on the link below to support Hozehna

Jared Roess

Position: North Club Manager & Marketing Coordinator

About me:

What’s up! What’s up! Charlotte has been home to me ever since I moved to the Queen City in 2009. I graduated from Providence High School in 2016 and afterwards had the great opportunity of playing collegiate soccer at Gardner-Webb University where I graduated in 2020 with a degree in Sport Management. I’m a high energy guy who loves being outside, doing spontaneous things, and getting to exist with people.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary:

In 2019 I had the opportunity of interning with the Charlotte Eagles. That summer I learned about how great of an organization MAI is. For me, I saw how an organization in a space of athletics can run the race of growing the kingdom of heaven and be so intentional with each individual that it came in contact with. As many years went by and I had moved back to Charlotte in pursuit of a corporate job, I was approached to coach one of the Charlotte Eagles club teams. I immediately accepted and for me this was a really cool opportunity to get reconnected with the game of soccer and an organization I really enjoyed being apart of. As time went on I got more and more connected with MAI and the Eagles; ranging from coaching to even captaining an Adult Rec League team.
In January 2023 I was in a season of transition and Cliff Wright, the executive director of the Eagles, approached me about potentially coming on staff. I went home that night just sitting in scripture reading and praying, praying and reading. That next morning I sent in my application and I couldn’t be more excited to be apart of MAI.

Jared Roess

North Club Manager & Marketing Coordinator

Please click on the link below to support Jared

John Long

John Long

Position: Urban Eagles Neighborhood Coach

About me:

Hey! my name is John, and I was born in Teofilo Otoni, Brazil. I was adopted by missionary parents when I was two years old and moved to the United States when I was eight. Whilst in the states I’ve lived in Georgia and sweet home Alabama. I love soccer and any other sport, I enjoy nature, hiking and just relaxing, all these things more so with family and friends.

How and why I became a MAI missionary:

After coming to know the Lord, I almost immediately knew I wanted to use my love and passion for soccer to serve the kingdom internationally. I heard about the Charlotte Eagles through a friend and knew it would be a great step towards gaining experience and training in how to use soccer in ministry and missions.

John Long

Urban Eagles Neighborhood Coach

Please click on the link below to support John

Jonathan Ramos

Position: Club Director

About me
HOLA! My name is Jonathan Ramos, I was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and moved to the United States at the age of five. I grew up in Charlotte, NC and attended Garinger High School. I was blessed to graduate from a private Christian college in Dallas, Texas called Southwestern Assemblies of God University.

I moved to Missouri and began missionary work with Ambassadors Football. After serving the Lord and people of St. Louis for four years, I moved back home. I am currently a soccer coach for Charlotte Eagles and joined their full time staff and serve as the Club Director.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary
My calling to serve God and His people has transformed my life. My time and experience with Ambassadors Football and Impact City FC in St. Louis have been pivotal on my decision to continue doing missionary work. I have the opportunity to bring the best of both worlds to life through MAI. I will use the sport of soccer as a tool to bring people closer to God because it is more likely for a person to step foot on a soccer pitch than an actual church.

Jonathan Ramos

Club Director

Please click on the link below to support Jonathan

Jordan Ramos

Position: Director of Operations

About me:
I grew up in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania and graduated from Red Land High School where I played soccer and golf. I went on to the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia where I graduated in 2014. It was during my time at UMW, that I got involved with an outreach ministry called Young Life and volunteered my 4 years of college. After graduating, I moved to Charlotte and went on full time Young Life staff serving North and South Carolina. I have been coaching girl’s golf and soccer at Charlotte Country Day School the past 6 years and have loved every minute of it!
In my free time, you might find me walking my pup, Georgia, hitting balls at the driving range, or exploring the food scene in Charlotte.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary?
I’ve been so fortunate to be surrounded by people who were living out their faith and giving their lives away ever since I took hold of my own relationship with Christ. I’ve felt called to ministry since my freshman year of college and that has only grown as I’ve transitioned into full time ministry. I have always had a passion for sports and have seen the ways doors are opened to share the gospel in unique ways through coaches, teammates, and the game itself. I am thrilled to be a part of the Charlotte Eagles and am excited to see what the Lord has in store for our city and beyond!

Jordan Ramos

Director of Operations

Please click on the link below to support Jordan

Julia Haynes

Position: Marketing & Communications Coordinator

About Me: 

I grew up in Charlotte with my loving parents and three younger sisters. I studied Media and Journalism at UNC Chapel Hill and have spent the past two years living in upstate New York at CAMP-of-the-WOODS. During my time there, I completed a Christian discipleship program, worked as a marketing intern for the ministry, and spent two summers leading high school girls in a month-long discipleship program. Having learned and grown in other spaces, I am excited to return to Charlotte and begin this new adventure working with the Charlotte Eagles. God has given me a new life, joy, and identity in Him, and I long to see others transformed by relationship with Him.

How and why I became a MAI Missionary:

Growing up in Charlotte and playing soccer, I had coaches who worked with MAI and the Charlotte Eagles. They are authentic and humble servant leaders, and I always looked up to how they lived out their faith.
Since graduating college and living in upstate New York, I have had the opportunity to grow in discipling younger girls through outdoor ministry and in marketing and communication skills while working for a non-profit. As I planned to move back to North Carolina, I prayed God would provide spaces for me to continue to use these gifts for His glory. When the opportunity to work with the Charlotte Eagles as the Marketing and Communication Coordinator arose, it became evident to me that God was graciously inviting me to be a part of the ways He is transforming lives through this ministry.
Since I first knew of MAI and the Charlotte Eagles through coaches I had, it has been clear to me this ministry is committed to its mission of glorifying God and seeing lives transformed by Christ. I see God at work and am excited and humbled to come alongside the Charlotte Eagles in telling their story, communicating the vision, and through discipleship sports ministry.

Julia Haynes

Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Please click on the link below to support Julia

Julius Klohr

Position: Club Manager

About me:

I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, and graduated from Covenant Day School in 2017. I was blessed with an opportunity to pursue my dream of playing collegiate soccer at Houghton College (now University). While Covenant Day School provided a solid foundation for my Christian faith, I truly fell in love with the Lord at Houghton. A passion and love for sports ministry was born within me while there.

Having been blessed to play four years of collegiate soccer, as well as study intercultural studies and sports ministry, I was given an opportunity to return for two years to serve as a graduate assistant for the Houghton men’s soccer team. This role allowed me to gain coaching experience, mentor players, and give back to the community that poured into me consistently. Now, as my time at Houghton comes to a close, I could not be more excited to pursue this opportunity with the Charlotte Eagles while also coaching varsity soccer at Covenant Day School.

 

How & why I became a MAI missionary:

While I grew up attending Charlotte Eagles soccer games and was coached for a year at Covenant Day School by Graham West (MAI International Training Director), my love and passion for sports ministry did not emerge until I was at Houghton. During my first year of college, I was introduced to the Charlotte Eagles camps and coaching summer internship. Though I was initially reluctant to commit to this opportunity, I eventually did. The Lord would use that summer to ignite a passion and love for sports ministry within me. I could not have asked for a more fun, fulfilling, and eye-opening summer experience. Soon after, I declared intercultural studies as my major and sports ministry as my minor, and pursued another sports ministry summer opportunity.

The Lord led me to Kenya to practice sports ministry in the summer of 2019, allowed me to accept an opportunity with the Chicago Eagles summer of 2020 (though COVID disrupted those plans), and allowed me to strongly consider an opportunity to join the Charlotte Eagles through their residency program before deciding to return to Houghton as a graduate assistant. Now, knowing that the Lord is calling my time at Houghton to an end, I could not be more excited to be joining the Eagles as a full-time staff member.

Julius Klohr

Club Manager

Please click on the link below to support Julius

Kate Williams

Position: Lady Eagles General Manager

About me:
I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. I played soccer from the time I was six years old, and have always loved the game. While I was raised in the church I didn’t really come to know God until just before my senior year in high school. After high school I played soccer for four years at Grove City College (in Grove City, PA) where I met my husband, Peter. We got married shortly after I graduated in 2006. I worked in Youth Ministry for five years post-graduation, and coached high school soccer from 2011-2020. Peter and I have three crazy & amazing kids: Keane, Adele, and Iris.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary?
Becoming a missionary is not something I ever thought I would do, but that’s true of so many things God has led me to and through in my life. I ended up here because it has been one of the clearest calls God has given me. He sought me out, and cleared the way. This is 100% his.
I have seen soccer and sports provide such great avenues to connect with people over the years. It is one way to show that while we want to be excellent on the field, how we conduct ourselves off of the field and where we place our identity are ultimately more important.

Kate Williams

Lady Eagles General Manager

Please click on the link below to support Kate

Lex Ramirez

Position: Resident

About me: 

I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona where my upbringing included heavy involvement in ministry within my family and local church. My love for serving blossomed from a young age which led to my early dedication to pursuing my relationship with the Lord. Currently, I attend Grand Canyon University, where I actively lead a ministry called Park at a nearby recreation center. In this role, I have the honor of serving remarkable kids and witnessing their growth, not only in soccer skills but also in their relationship with the Lord.

In my free time, I enjoy being outdoors, hiking, or playing pickup games with my buddies. I also love exploring coffee shops, reading, painting, and playing guitar!

How & Why I became a MAI missionary:

During my time in college, I have had the wonderful opportunity to continue growing my relationship with the Lord through a faith-centered community and personal time. I grew up serving locally in my community by caring for the homeless population and teaching children at Sunday services with my church. However, through most recent years, I have had the opportunity to work in sports ministry seeing how God can use the sport of soccer to spread his love. This year, I have especially felt called to step out in faith to work in sport ministry full time after diving into the local community near my university. I am beyond excited to see how God will reach Charlotte and reveal his character through soccer!

 

 

Lex Ramirez

Resident

Please click on the link below to support Lex

Michael Kovach

Position: USL2 Head Coach

About me:

Michael Kovach

Christianity never felt like a choice for me. It was something that I was supposed to do or be a part of. Something that society or the circles around me forced me to engage in. I didn’t want it and wasn’t for it, so in high school, I ran as far away from God as I could. Pride, partying, drinking, drugs, all of the bad things. That’s where I was. After an overdose in 2010, I met God, in person, and He raised me to life (literally). My life was given purpose. Love the lost, the broken, and the unworthy – show them Jesus’ love.

God’s call for me led me to attend and play soccer at Messiah College (now Messiah University) where I was surrounded by an incredible community of godly men. People on fire for Jesus, people that did not care about my past. Where I was in the present and where I was going moving forward is all that mattered. A culture of love, excellence, discipline, and success.

I am a disciple of the great men that came before me. I fix broken people. Coaching is my tool to be able to do this. Soccer is a great common ground, regardless of upbringing or current circumstances. Walls are broken down and bridges are built. Coaches are often the most impactful and consistent voices that many young players will have. The Charlotte Eagles are providing me with an opportunity to show our players what it means to love, have solid character, push their limits, and truly know Jesus.

I might not always get it right, I might not always speak the most eloquently, and there is always room for my knowledge of the gospel to grow, but I love my people and I love them well. I follow God’s call for me without question. He has given me endless blessings. An amazing wife, a community of people that love me, and an incredible purpose. I will spend all of my days relentlessly pursuing God’s will.

MARY

When I left for college in 2012, my eyes were opened to the world around me in a way they never had been before. I discovered what it meant to stay at one school for four years straight (which was a first for me), how to navigate the highs and lows of collegiate athletics, how wonderful it is to sit under a professor who SUPER loves their specialty and is a vibrant orator, and the challenge that comes with leaving every summer for a few months, knowing that you will come back and that, inevitably, you and your friends will have changed a bit without each other.

During those four years I worked on the coast for a boss who took my understanding of work ethic to a different level. I spent a summer in Kenya with a mentor who challenged my understanding of sin and the need to embrace humility instead of pride. Finally, I learned that you do not have to read the entire Bible in a summer to sit close to the heart of Jesus. You can do that with the same 10 verses every day for the entire summer.

3 years later, and the Lord has used the city of Charlotte and the Eagles to mold my leadership, my emotional maturity, and my understanding of my calling in His Kingdom.

I get to share stories from all of our branches of ministry, support our coaches and their teams as they compete throughout the summer, and most importantly teach college students that you can love Jesus, pursue excellence, and be an impressive leader all at the same time. I want them to leave their time at the Eagles knowing how to think and ask questions, and to be empowered to lead courageously and honestly.

P.S I also met my husband at the Eagles…. so like. That’s pretty neat.

Michael Kovach

USL2 Head Coach

Please click on the link below to support Michael

Matt Barber

Position: Camp Director

About me

For almost a decade our family has been blessed with the opportunity to do full-time ministry with the Charlotte Eagles. We have witnessed God working in us, through us, and around us in ways that have strengthened our faith in Him and grown our love for Him.  Matt’s role with the Eagles is now part-time in the position of Camp Director, running logistics, training and mentoring coaches, as well as providing support to staff and camp coaches. We live in East Charlotte, with our five children — Luke, Ella, Molly and Jayce as well as our bonus son Sai Phut, and love building and investing in relationships with youth from the Charlotte Eagles.

 

How and why I became a MAI Missionary

During the summers of 2008 and 2009 Matt took the opportunity to participate as a member of the Chicago Eagles Summer Academy. It was here he realized that sports ministry was a very real way to share the Gospel. It was during those summers that God placed a call on Matt’s heart to work in sports ministry.

Because of my graduate work we were given the opportunity to pursue working with Missionary Athletes International in Charlotte, NC. Following God’s calling we moved to Charlotte in June 2015 and had a summer full of fun working with camps! We joined full-time staff in August 2015 and transitioned to part-time staff in 2023. We are so blessed to be part of the Eagles family and watch the Lord work in the hearts and lives of kids here in Charlotte.

Matt Barber

Camp Director

Please click on the link below to support Matt

Meghan Parks Web

Meghan Parks

Position: Early Development Admin

About me
I am the youngest of four children, I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and moved to Charlotte when I was 5 years old. I have now called this city home for 23 years. I graduated from UNC Charlotte in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Urban Youth and Communities. While at college I committed my life to Christ in 2013 and met my husband Tanner that same year. In college I grew deeper with Christ by serving in the ministry of Young Life for four years. The last two years we have lived in Clover, SC where I have been on staff with Young Life ministering to the kids that attend Clover High School. Before that I was a kitchen manager at Chick-fil-a and I can bread chicken faster than you can guess the secret recipe! Tanner and I have been married for 4 years and have two lovely children, Tilly and Dover. I am passionate about most things in life but above all I know God has given me a deep passion for sharing the Gospel and helping people walk in their faith.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary
I first heard about Charlotte Eagles in early 2000’s when I went to a summer camp hosted by the Eagles at Calvary Church when I was 9. I wore my camp shirt as a badge of honor year round and couldn’t wait for summer camp the next year. I played soccer throughout high school and have always loved the game. When I got the opportunity to join the MAI staff in Charlotte my heart immediately surrendered to the idea of joining this mission. God has shown me just where he is taking me and my family in the next season of life and I can’t wait! My position as Program Leader for Early Development is something I know will have Kingdom impact for years to come. I am so honored to use the gifts and abilities God has given me to train, and equip rec team coaches and add a flare of fun to everyday life around the office.

Meghan Parks

Early Development Admin

Please click on the link below to support Meghan

Nathan Talesnick

Position: Operations Manager

About me:

I was born and raised in Orlando, Florida with a family that loved the Lord and loved soccer. I then decided to brave the cold and attend Gordon College in Wenham, MA where I played soccer and double majored in Mathematics and Economics. After graduating in the spring of 2022, I split the difference and moved to Charlotte and have loved it here ever since. Any given Saturday you can find me drinking iced coffee, reading theology, playing pickleball, or all of the above!

 

How & why I became a MAI missionary:

My mind is one that thinks in numbers and figures; and while that led me towards an academic interest in mathematics, I always held a desire to use that skillset in a ministry context to further Christ’s Kingdom here on earth. After moving to Charlotte and starting a job in insurance I became connected with the Charlotte Eagles as a coach for the Rec program, and began to feel a calling towards the ministry in a more permanent context. I am a firm believer in the power of soccer to be a vessel by which to bring the Gospel to others, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be able to do so as part of this organization!

Nathan Talesnick

Operations Manager

Please click on the link below to support Nate

Beka Severs

Rebekah Severs

Position: East Charlotte Director

About me
Hey, I’m Beka and I grew up in High Point, NC. I was blessed to grow up surrounded by Christian community and it was extremely influential in getting me where I am today. For most of my life I sought to follow Christ, but it wasn’t until college that it really clicked for me what it looked like to live fully surrendered. I love people, so much, and I love being surrounded by them in all different circumstances. I love the game of soccer and have played it for most of my life and enjoy just being active and making the most of any time that I have outside. Additionally, I love to paint, have good conversation, and create fun for other people. I am a graduate of NC State University and loved every minute of my time there. I learned so much about ministry in my time there and have loved applying that to my time here in Charlotte. I am passionate about equipping and empowering students to understand all that God has purposed them for and to see them grasp that and apply it into the Great Commission. Living incarnationally in a cross cultural neighborhood in Charlotte has only increased that passion for me.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary
As I approached the end of my time at NC State, I knew that I wanted to pursue working in full time ministry but I wasn’t quite sure what that looked like. In college I was able to see what life on mission looked like as involvement in ministry showed me how to take the community that you are surrounded by and live intentionally with the people within it in order for Christ to be made known. I think before I got to college, I always assumed that ministry was for pastors and missionaries that went halfway across the world, but in college I could see that my mission field was constantly surrounding me no matter where I was. So I looked into many different opportunities that would challenge me and better equip me to do that, growing inwardly and multiplying outwardly. When it came time for me to make a decision, I had a lot of great opportunities in front of me, but I chose to come work with the Eagles, where I felt I would most grow in where God is leading me and where I felt like my passion for people and the game of soccer aligned with what God’s will is in the advancement of his kingdom. In the time that I have been here, I have grown and been challenged in ways that I never imagined I could. God has brought the nations to Charlotte and he continues to remind me that I am incapable of doing anything a part from him. I love the journey and the relationships I have been privileged to build in working with the Eagles.

Rebekah Severs

East Charlotte Director

Please click on the link below to support Rebekah

Rebekah Vaughn

Position: North Charlotte Neighborhood Coach

About me: 

Hi, I’m Rebekah and Charlotte has always been home for me. I grew up in a family and community that loved Jesus and I came to know Him for myself at a very young age. As I’ve grown and walked through life, my relationship with the Lord has only grown in depth and love. I love people and hearing their stories. I love a good cup of coffee, a shared meal, and having people at my table.

How & why I became a MAI missionary:

I first personally encountered the Charlotte Eagles, when a friend of a friend asked if I would be willing to move in to North Charlotte to be roommates with a staff member. Only because of the Lord’s sovereignty and kindness, I said yes. I soon found myself living in North Charlotte, doing neighborhood ministry alongside some of my now dearest friends. I fell in love with the people and the work instantly. I have worked for the last 3 years as a Registered Nurse and had no intention of doing something different at the time. But over the last year the Lord softened, shaped, and moved in my heart and life and called me to step into full time ministry alongside the Charlotte Eagles. I love my neighbors and North Charlotte, but I know the Lord loves them infinitely more. I am passionate about getting to share with my neighbors about the love Jesus has for them. I am confident that He is moving in my neighborhood and I am excited to watch Him continue to do so.

Rebekah Vaughn

North Charlotte Neighborhood Coach

Please click on the link above to support Rebekah

Sam Cox

Position: Early Development Coordinator

About me:

My name is Samuel Cox, but most people call me Sam. I am a native to Charlotte, NC, and graduated from Hickory Grove Christian School in 2017. In high school I played Soccer, Tennis, and Swimming while also enjoying recreation sand volleyball and ultimate frisbee. I coached a neighborhood summer swim team for 3 years and currently coach at Hickory Grove for MS soccer and Varsity Swimming (1 and 2 years, respectively).

I attended Wingate University for two years before transferring to UNC Charlotte in the fall of 2019. The main purpose was to be a part of Campus Outreach and be around a solid group of Christian college students. This is where I truly started walking with the Lord and learning what it meant to be a disciple and disciple-maker. During my senior year, I became a student leader and very passionate about ministry and telling others about Jesus. This passion for ministry work and soccer, along with lots of prayer and God’s perfect timing, led me to be with the Eagles in the residency program.

 

How & why I became a MAI Missionary?

Growing up in the Charlotte area, I always knew who the Charlotte Eagles were and that they did summer camps for younger players. As I got older, I learned more and more about the known Christian organization and what they did. However, I never would have thought that this is what the Lord had in store for me. I played soccer through high school and continue to maintain a passion for the sport. While in college, I developed the desire to coach, but wasn’t sure where or how to start that process.

My first opportunity arose during the spring of 2021 when the Eagles Recreation League needed a coach halfway through the season. That season left such an impact on me that I immediately wanted more and asked the staff how I could get more involved. After meeting with Cliff Wright, Executive Director of the Charlotte Eagles’ and their Residency Program Director, along with a lot of prayer, I felt like this is what the Lord was calling me to do once I graduated.

Sam Cox

Early Development Coordinator

Please click on the link below to support Sam

Sam & Chuck Hope

Samantha Hope

Position: Lady Eagles Director

About me
Born and raised in Louisville, KY, I gave my life to Christ when I was a freshman in high school. God led me to play college soccer at UNC Charlotte. He then enabled me to play three years and coach for two with the Charlotte Lady Eagles where He transformed the way I viewed the game. Soccer became a platform for me to share the love of Jesus with others. Since then God has sent me to coach at Lenoir-Rhyne University, play professionally in Sweden, and coach at Gardner-Webb University. He has enabled me to coach youth soccer for several different clubs and also coach ODP with North Carolina and Region III. My husband Chuck and I moved to Charlotte where God has a new adventure for me with the Charlotte Eagles.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary
I’ve felt called to be a part of this ministry since the day I was recruited to the team. At MAI, my two greatest passions in this life, the Lord and soccer, are combined. Even though God has led me to different areas of the country because of soccer, I believe those experiences were only to prepare me for this next step as a full time missionary. My experience as a player and coach within this ministry was transformational and I desire to partner with the Lord to create a similar experience for others that come through this program and this curriculum.

Samantha Hope

Lady Eagles Director

Please click on the link below to support Samantha

Spencer Lewis

Position: Charlotte Executive Director

About me
My wife Morgan and I met in college at the University of South Carolina in 2007 and got married in June 2012. God blessed us with our daughter, Chloe, in February 2018 and our son, Tanner, in September 2021.

We are flawed but forever grateful for the love the Father has for us, and that He showed that love by sending Jesus to die on the cross to cover our imperfections. We are forever grateful for Jesus’ obedience in fulfilling His purpose on earth so that we can experience Him now and live with Him forever after this life. Following Jesus’ example, we also seek to be obedient to what the Lord asks us to do and are excited to serve Him as a part of MAI.

Joshua 24:15 – “…choose this day whom you will serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

How & why I became a MAI Missionary
John 10:27 – “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

Our whole lives (and more specifically, the past decade) we have been on the fun journey God has had for us – and this role and organization is where He has led us. While we prayed over many decisions in the past and can now see the Lord’s hand in them, we have never been more at peace that we are where God wants us and has asked us to be. In His perfect timing and preparation, we are excited to serve our purpose on earth with MAI. It is our prayer that His name and His glory is known in every detail of our story.

We would love to have you partner with us in any way you can and feel led, and would love it if you would allow us to pray for you wherever you are.

Please connect with us at slewis@charlotteeagles.com if you would like to hear the details of our lives that have led us to this point and what He has placed on us for this season.

Spencer Lewis

Charlotte Executive Director

Please click on the link below to support Spencer

Trey Jarrell

Trey Jarrell

Position: Seminary Fellow

About me:                   

I moved to Charlotte for a Masters of Divinity at Reformed Theological Seminary. It is beautifully ironic that I am back in Charlotte to minister with the Eagles and study God in seminary. For about 10 years I drove race cars with the aim of making it in NASCAR for teams based out of the Charlotte area. During the bulk of this time I was not yet a Christian, but God graciously brought me to faith in college and sent my life down a new path of ministry.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary? 

For four incredible years after I graduated from undergrad, I had the pleasure of working for the college ministry of Campus Outreach in Lynchburg, VA: sharing the gospel with students and equipping them for ministry.
God increasingly grew my heart for cross-cultural missions during this time. As I was discussing opportunities to minister cross-culturally in Charlotte, the admissions staff at RTS directed me towards the Urban Charlotte Eagles.
Between my background racing stockcars, and my time coaching cross country and track the Lord taught me that sports are glorious, but He (God) has the greatest glory! It is a joy for me now to be able to speak the Gospel to athletes with the sport of soccer so that they might know and experience this greatest glory of God for themselves!

Trey Jarrell

Seminary Fellow

Please click on the link below to support Trey

Tina Y

Position: Urban Administrator

About me:

I am originally from Vietnam! When I was three years old, my family and I moved here to the States and we have been here since. I am the youngest of four kids and I have 3 amazing older brothers. A little fun fact about me is that I actually run a food Instagram account with one of my friends, so you’ll probably find me at a coffee shop or restaurant of some sort getting some content ;). I love all things soccer and I am continually amazed at how this one sport can be a tool to spread the gospel.

 

How & why I became a MAI missionary:

I am actually an East Charlotte kid. For many years, my family and I lived at Birchcroft, one of the founding neighborhoods for the Urban Eagles neighborhood ministry program. This is actually where I was first introduced to soccer. My family has always been Christians, but my faith was never my own and I never pursued to have my own relationship with Jesus. While we were living in Birchcroft, missionaries from the Eagles and MAI started to come into the neighborhood and just displayed Jesus’ love and kindness. As I got older and really started to understand who Jesus was, I realized that I wanted to have my own relationship with Him. The missionaries that became my neighbors showed me what it was like to truly love Jesus and to live your life for Him. Whenever I think of this opportunity of me becoming an MAI missionary, I am just in awe. I have seen how Jesus has worked in my life and just how good He has been to me. This is truly a full circle; I used to be one of the kids who was being poured into, and now I am working for an organization that has had such a huge impact on my life. I grew up being around people who worked for the Eagles, and it is just so cool to think about how I am stepping into this new position with the Eagles. Jesus is so good and I can’t wait to see how He will use me in this new season of life. Go Eags forever.

 

Tina Y

Urban Administrator

Please click on the link below to support Tina

Val Tysinger

Position: Women's Program Asst. and NCLT Neighborhood Coach

About Me:

I grew up in Florida, and started playing soccer when I was just 3 years old. I continued to play soccer through college, attending the University of Florida where I competed on the women’s soccer team for 5 years. I graduated with a Bachelors in Spanish and Sociology and a Masters in Youth Development. During my college career I also played with the Charlotte Eagles. It was through my time with the Eagles that the Lord captured my heart and opened my eyes to see how all of life is available to be lived in light of the Gospel. After discipling my teammates in college, I moved to Nashville to pursue college coaching and continuing to use soccer as a platform for ministry. However, the college coaching environment led to deep feelings of burnout and longing for more freedom to share the gospel in word, not just deed. The lord later led me into a season of teaching English, and later an opportunity to learn about ministry and God’s heart for the world through a year of serving in Honduras in sustainable agriculture. The seasons away from soccer were sweet gifts from the Lord to reveal there is more to me than just a soccer player or coach, to reveal more of his heart through new perspectives, and also restore a freedom in soccer to be used as a tool and act of worship, rather than a thing to be worshipped.

 

How & Why I Became a MAI Missionary:

I have been connected to the Eagles since 2012 through my own playing experience, in addition to the vast majority of my relationships being with other former or current Eagles. Through my time in Honduras, I felt the Lord preparing me to be called into a more permanent role elsewhere, so I continued to learn and listen to where he might be leading. This past summer, I was able to act as a translator for the women’s Colombia tour and felt a draw to both that group of players and the eagles environment. However, I did not feel a call to pursue anything further until this past December when I felt the Lord clarifying a calling and assignment for me with the women’s summer programming and urban outreach.

Through my own time in college, the Lord showed me just how beautifully the gospel can be lived and communicated in a sports context. I think after college, in all honesty, I had many assumptions of what ministry “should” look like, and for that reason struggled to see God’s heart more fully. Through my time in Honduras, I began to see more of the depths of his mercy towards me and my own story, giving me a deeper compassion for both those who are “like me”, not just those who are different. In opening my hands to the Lords will for my story and wherever he would desire to send me, stepping into a role with the Eagles became a clear calling.

Val Tysinger

Women's Program Asst. and NCLT Neighborhood Coach

Please click on the link below to support Val

Walter Gomez

Position: Club Coordinator & Men's Program Assistant (USL2)

About me:

My name is Walter Gomez, and I’m proud to call Charlotte my hometown. Among my siblings, I’m the eldest, with Jorge (17) and Christian Gomez (12) rounding out our family. Our parents, Fredy Merlos and Miladis Saravia, originally come from El Salvador. Throughout my life, soccer has been a source of immense joy and God has opened doors to numerous opportunities through the sport. I attended East Mecklenburg High School before embarking on my collegiate journey. Initially, I received an athletic scholarship to play soccer at the Division II level for the University of Mount Olive. Eventually, I transferred to Belmont Abbey College, where I completed my final year of eligibility while pursuing a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership. My time at different universities has fueled a deep passion for coaching and mentoring players, a role I eagerly embrace whenever the opportunity arises.

 

How & why I became a MAI missionary:

In January of 2023, I had the opportunity to do my internship with the Charlotte Eagles. This experience not only allowed me to purse my career in coaching but also sparked a profound interest in ministry and the transformative opportunities it presents for players worldwide. Throughout my journey with the Eagles, I grasped the essence of spreading the Good News and recognized God’s command for us to share His word with all whom we encounter. My opportunity with the Charlotte Eagles was amazing, primarily due to the meaningful relationships I cultivated. Opting to play with the USL 2 team during this time significantly increased my spiritual convictions. It was a period of realization wherein I understood that my true identity rested in Christ, not in soccer alone. Motivated by this newfound perspective, I made the decision to become a MAI missionary. I recognized the potential to spread God’s love through the platform of soccer, leveraging my own experiences to guide players towards a deeper love for God above all else.

Walter Gomez

Club Coordinator & Men's Program Assistant (USL2)

Please click on the link above to support Walter