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Ana Newsum

Position: Staff Training Coordinator

About Me

I was born in NYC as a military brat and moved around for the majority of my life as a result! I got my first opportunity to put some roots down when I moved to Charlotte, NC & would call this home in a heart beat! I graduated in 2014 from the University of Mary Washington where I met the Lord as a sophomore. The depth of Christ I’ve experienced has largely been as a result of giving my life away in the ministry of Young Life as a volunteer leader & it is one of the greatest gifts of my life! 

I am passionate about the gospel being shared, leadership development, the enneagram, and creating/investing into a culture that is joyful and purposeful!

How & Why I became a MAI Missionary?

I got connected by a long-time friend of mine (our Executive Director, Cliff) & felt the Lord tugging my heart to enter into a season of surrender and joy! I always knew the Lord was going to have to call me into something specific for me to leave my previous job and it happened! I am beyond excited to be able to help equip, develop, and multiply leaders for the organization in order to increase & deepen our impact!

Ana Newsum

Staff Training Coordinator

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Cliff and Laura Wright

Position: Charlotte Executive Director

About me

I was adopted as an infant and grew up in Greensboro, NC graduating from Grimsley High School in 2002. I went to Centre College were I played four years for the Colonels and majored in Religious Studies while volunteering with and then joining part-time staff with Young Life. Following college I went on full time Young Life staff serving in Roanoke, VA, Fredericksburg, VA, and finally in the Greater Charlotte area. I married Laura (also on YL staff) in 2008 and we have worked side-by-side in ministry ever since. We have four amazing children (Keller, Asher, Pryor, and Ryder) and one poorly behaved dog (Levi). We live in the University City area of Charlotte and are members at Stonebridge Church Community.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary

I am inspired by the idea of seeing people meet Jesus and grow up in Him. The possibilities of one life, fully devoted to the Lord, are astronomical. The platform of sports, especially soccer, to reach people with the Gospel, build into them, and launch them into a life of service and impact is like a hand in a glove. MAI and the Charlotte Eagles are uniquely positioned to use the platform of soccer across racial, economic, georgraphic, and cultural lines to accomplish these goals like nothing else I have seen.

Cliff and Laura Wright

Charlotte Executive Director

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Dan Miele

Daniel Miele

Position: East Charlotte Ministry Staff, Int'l Tours

About me

I am from Florence, SC and am 1 of 8 children. I went to the King’s Academy, a small Christian high school, and it was there that God showed me my love for missions. I have played soccer my whole life and during high school, God showed me that it is a tool that can be used to build relationships and spread the gospel. I enjoy playing and watching soccer and coaching. I graduated from Columbia International University with a degree in Global Business Development and Bible.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary

The high school which I attended does something called missions week where the students raise money and have the opportunity to go on a local, national and international missions trip. I always chose international because I love to travel. It was during these trips that God showed me my love for missions and that my love for soccer can be used to glorify Him and spread the gospel. Through these trips God revealed to me that soccer can be used to build relationships and break down cultural and religious barriers. I knew that I wanted to do sports ministry after college but I did not know about any organization that was doing it until one of the leaders on a trip told me about the Charlotte Eagles. During my time at CIU I went on the Youth Tour to Brazil, did the summer academy in Chicago, and interned in Charlotte. I joined the Charlotte Eagles because I know that I am called and was designed to be a sports minister.

Daniel Miele

East Charlotte Ministry Staff, Int'l Tours

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Dave & Carolyn Urban

Position: CEO | Director of Staff Care (Charlotte)

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 I became a MAI missionary

I started playing soccer at the age of 5 and had the privilege of being coached by my dad until going off to college. The foundation of teaching I received had a significant impact on my life. During my college years I came to know Christ as my Savior through the environment of my college soccer team. I went on to coach at both the HS and Collegiate level which further prepared me for a role that I did not know would be in my future. When the opportunity came up to be a part of the ministry of MAI, who’s 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 the impact that sports can have on the lives of players through the environment of a team. Carolyn has the privilege of serving in Staff Care in the Charlotte office.

Dave & Carolyn Urban

CEO | Director of Staff Care (Charlotte)

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Drew & Maria Yates

Drew & Maria Yates

Position: Camp Director, CESC Coach

About me

I played four years of collegiate soccer at University of Maryland. I then was drafted by the Chicago Fire in 2010 but ended up signing in the second division to play with the Tampa Bay Rowdies. I played six seasons professionally in various cities. After retiring in 2015, I started coaching for various clubs, spanning from Missouri to central Virginia. I am a husband to Maria and a father to Evelyn (19 months) and Eden (almost two months). And a faithful follow of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

How and why I became a MAI Missionary

I was offered a contract with the Charlotte Eagles professional soccer team in 2013. I was a little hesitant to play for a “Christian” organization at the time, but the Lord used injuries and shortcomings in my career to bring me to Charlotte. During a discipleship conference the Gospel was presented to me and I chose to follow Jesus. Later that season, through the Lord’s leading, my future wife chose to follow Jesus as well! Since we left Charlotte, we have been longing to be apart of a community like the Eagles and believed that the Lord was calling us back to Charlotte.

Drew & Maria Yates

Camp Director, CESC Coach

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Garrett and Amanda Bireline

Garrett & Amanda Bireline

Position: CESC Technical Director, USL2 Head Coach

About me

I was born in Seattle, Washington; and grew up in Marion, Indiana. Academically, I graduated with the BS in Exercise Science in 2011. I completed my MS in Sport Management from Liberty University in 2014. Soccer has taken me across oceans, into stadiums, and through slums. After finishing my playing career that spanned three continents, I transitioned in coaching at the youth and collegiate levels in the United States. From 2012-2018, I have held assistant and head coaching positions at the NCAA DI, DII, and DIII levels with Wheaton College (IL), Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), and Southern Wesleyan University (SC).

Currently, I am a full-time missionary that serves with Missionary Athletes International (MAI) and the Charlotte Eagles. I have the privilege of living hope and truth through the avenue of soccer to impact over 500 youth players, coaches, and professional players each year. Directly, I coach the USL2 Charlotte Eagles and oversee a youth club of over 500 players and 30 coaches. I seek to use the avenue of soccer as the bridge to develop young men and women in soccer excellence and in Jesus. My greatest aim is to see Jesus’s love and hope spread from our feet to our hearts.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary

As a young man in college, my life was dramatically changed through MAI’s mission and application in the Chicago office when I played for the Chicago Eagles. I am a living example of the impact that soccer submitted to Jesus can have on the lives of players and coaches. It is for that reason that I am a missionary with MAI.

Garrett & Amanda Bireline

CESC Technical Director, USL2 Head Coach

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Isabella & Alex Miller

Position: Asst. Registrar & East Charlotte Liaison

About me

I grew up in a small town called Mentor, just outside Cleveland, Ohio, where my parents and four siblings still live. I came to Charlotte in 2014 to attend UNC-Charlotte and to play for the women’s soccer team. During my sophomore year, an injury and a broken identity led me to the cross where I gave my life to Christ. Since then, I have learned what it means to be a daughter of the Highest King, what a relationship with the Lord looks like and how to glorify Him above all things. After graduation from UNC-Charlotte in May 2019, I married my husband, Alex, who has been the greatest blessing of my life. We cannot wait to see what the Lord is going to do through MAI and the Charlotte Eagles!

How & why I became a MAI Missionary

During my time as a student-athlete at UNC-Charlotte I was involved in FCA where many friends from the women’s soccer had played for the WPSL Charlotte Lady Eagles’. Their constant pursuance after me led me to be a practice player for the Lady Eagles for two summers. I also interned in 2018 with a similar ministry in East Charlotte who serves the neighborhood youths. Through my short experiences in the Eagles’ ministry, neighborhood outreach, and through the sports ministry of FCA, the Lord brought to light my desire to use soccer as a platform to speak the Gospel to youth.

Isabella & Alex Miller

Asst. Registrar & East Charlotte Liaison

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James and Hope Miler

James & Hope Miller

Position: East Charlotte Ministry Staff, CESC Coach

About me

My name is James Max Miller, I am from Harrisburg, NC. My wife, of almost a year, is Hope Miller. Together we have a passion for missions and desire to see people come to know Jesus Christ. I graduated from North Greenville University in 2018 with a B.S. in Sport Management with an emphasis in coaching and Hope is a nurse.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary

I was first connected with the Charlotte Eagles when I interned with them as a part of my undergraduate degree in the spring of 2018. I saw the work that was done with the youth club and how the Eagles evangelized and discipled players. Through seeing the work that was done I gained a great respect for the organization, which created a desire to serve alongside its workers. At the beginning of 2019, God put a calling on my heart to join the Eagles full time.

James & Hope Miller

East Charlotte Ministry Staff, CESC Coach

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Kyle & Ashley Martin

Position: Director of Operations
About me:

I met my wife Ashley in Philadelphia, where I was living as a student at Temple University, and she was originally from. Though we were just friends for several years, we both eventually realized that there was a mutual interest for more. We were married in November 2017 at a venue in Rose Valley, PA, located right outside of Philadelphia. A job opportunity at UNC-Charlotte brought us to Charlotte immediately after getting married, and we have enjoyed calling this city home for over two years. In our spare time, we love exploring small towns, hiking, eating, and relaxing at home. We are diehard Philadelphia sports fans and value the amazing effect of sports in forming community.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary?

Though early on I found my career strengths and niche, I feel God has called me to use these gifts to allow the Eagles and MAI to fulfill their mission of glorifying God and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Kyle & Ashley Martin

Director of Operations

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Luke Helmuth

Position: Residency Director, CESC Coach

About me

My name is Luke Helmuth and I am a coach here in Charlotte with the Urban Eagles. As you might expect, I love playing soccer, watching soccer, and coaching soccer. But I know that this game was created in order to bring glory to God. When I am not around soccer, I like to listen to music, spend time with friends, play other games, or be adventurous outside. I enjoy rock climbing, kayaking, skate and snowboarding, backpacking, and I am always down for a good night hike through the woods. Yet despite my active personality, I still like to sit down with a cup of tea for a good, deep, discussion with friends.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary

I was exposed to sports ministry while in school at Messiah College. Both of my college coaches played for the Charlotte Eagles and had experience with sports ministry through MAI. I began to feel God’s calling into ministry after I graduated high school but was not sure how or where God wanted me. Through being around my college team and experiencing sports ministry both in our local community and internationally, God revealed to me the power sports have for His kingdom. Because of my coaches’ connection with the Eagles I began to connect with MAI to discern if this was a place He was calling me to. After months of prayer and searching, I felt God’s call for me to come down to Charlotte and learn more about sports ministry for the year by interning with MAI’s Urban Eagles Program.  After the Internship, there were things I felt like God was calling me to.  And the more I sought out those things, the more I found them in Charlotte.

Luke Helmuth

Residency Director, CESC Coach

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Macy Rutledge

Macy Rutledge

Position: Operations, CESC Coach

About me

I was born and raised in North Carolina and grew up in a Christian environment which allowed Christ to become the foundation of my life at an early age. I have been playing soccer since I was 4 years old and graduated from Pfeiffer University in 2017 after playing there for 4 years. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. I enjoy traveling, reading, going to the beach, and I especially enjoy eating. I love being outside and I have a heart for kids, so sports ministry has been a perfect fit for me so far.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary

I played for the Charlotte Lady Eagles in the summer of 2016 and it changed my life. It opened my eyes to so many different people and so many different opportunities that I was previously too timid to involve myself in. The people that I was surrounded by instilled confidence in me and encouraged me to keep stepping out of my comfort zone, so here I am. I’ve never had complete confidence in what I want to do until the MAI Missionary opportunity was discussed and then everything clicked. I feel like this is where God wants me to be right now and I couldn’t be more excited about this chapter in my life.

Macy Rutledge

Operations, CESC Coach

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Mark and Dianne Steffens

Mark & Diane Steffens

Position: WPSL Assistant Coach

About me

We raised our three daughters on Long Island before moving to Charlotte to join MAI. We now have three son-in-laws and we’re extremely grateful that all three families love and serve our great God. They have 10 children making us grandparents….10 times!
While ministering with MAI, I coached the men’s pro team for 18 seasons. Our emphasis was and is on building men and women to love God and serve others.
Currently, I’m helping rewrite our Sports Ministry Training manual and Coaching Track curriculum with a few other staff members. We are a training mission so we feel it is imperative that the material we teach our players/coaches is quality and honoring to God.
Diane is currently a substitute teacher at a few Christian schools in Charlotte.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary

In 1990, Diane and I went on tour to Italy, Germany, and Poland with MAI. We both caught a vision of “soccer ministry” and how effective it could be. We decided to go on tour the following year to Russia and once again saw the platform a simple soccer ball created. We started praying about God’s call in our lives and in 1997 we joined MAI full-time. Since that time, we have witnessed many people come to saving faith in Jesus through MAI ministry endeavors.

Mark & Diane Steffens

WPSL Assistant Coach

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Michael & Mary Kovach

Position: Asst. USL2 Coach | Creative Director

About us

MICHAEL

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 & Mary Kovach

Asst. USL2 Coach | Creative Director

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Matt and Lauren Barber

Matt & Lauren Barber

Position: Staff Care, CESC Coach

About me

God led Matt and his wife, Lauren, together while they were both attending Appalachian State University. They married in March of 2012 in Boone, NC. After graduating from ASU in May of 2012, Lauren pursued her Master’s degree in Nutrition from East Carolina University which brought the Barbers to New Bern, NC. In the fall of 2013 Matt began pursuing his Master’s in Sport Management from East Carolina and finished in August 2015. Throughout our time in New Bern the question remained, “What are we going to do next?”. In February of 2015 we got our answer — pursue full-time staff with the Eagles and become parents for the first time! We continue to love the game of soccer and are completely enjoying the opportunity to use it to share the Gospel. We now are blessed with TWO children — Luke and Elizabeth. We love being part of the Eagles family as a family!

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. 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 & Lauren Barber

Staff Care, CESC Coach

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Matthew Graham

Matthew Graham

Position: East Charlotte Ministry Staff

About me

I was born and raised Kingsport, Tennessee where I was homeschooled for 11 years. I later attended Berea College where I will graduate in 2019 with a Bachelors degree in Strategic Communication. I also played two years of soccer and one year of basketball at Berea College.

How and why I became a MAI Missionary 

A few summers ago I had an internship with the Emerald Youth Foundation in Knoxville, TN, where the Eagles put on a camp during the summer. Through this, I was able to get reconnected with former staff member Josh Wood who I knew when I was younger. From there, God opened doors and created opportunities for me to eventually come on staff as a MAI Missionary. Growing up, some of the biggest influences and models of the Christian faith were my coaches and team mates and because of that, God changed my life through sports. Throughout high school and college I have come to recognize the call that God has placed on my life to join Him in His work of making His name known and bringing glory to Him! Being able to use my love for sports and working with children to accomplish this seem too good to be true! However, God has given me that chance and there is no way that I could deny this opportunity after seeing what God has done to make it possible!

Matthew Graham

East Charlotte Ministry Staff

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Beka Severs

Rebekah Severs

Position: East Charlotte Ministry Staff

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 passionare 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 people. 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 Ministry Staff

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Sam & Chuck Hope

Samantha & Chuck Hope

Position: WPSL Head Coach, CESC Coach

About me
Born and raised in Louisville, KY. 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. Recently married and 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 & Chuck Hope

WPSL Head Coach, CESC Coach

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Tori Collar

Tori Collar

Position: Asst. to the Ex. Director, CESC & WPSL GK Coach

About me

I have loved Jesus since a very young age and have been in the sports world since I was about three years old. I played soccer and basketball until my senior year in high school and chose to pursue college soccer from there. I played Division I soccer at Liberty University as a goalkeeper and played for the Charlotte Eagles in the summer of 2017. In my free time I enjoy playing guitar, going on hikes, working on wood projects, and doing pretty much anything outdoors.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary 

I have always had a passion for soccer and having been rooted in my faith and love for Christ, I could not surpass the opportunity to combine both of these loves to help develop people of all kinds to become better soccer players, but more so, more faithful believers and followers of Jesus. I played for the Charlotte Eagles in the Summer of 2017 and from that point forward I knew that this was the line of work that I wanted to be involved in. The kind where relationships are formed through a great sport, but relationships with Christ are grown and fostered in unique ways. Without Him we are nothing and He sacrificial love He has given us is a gift that needs to be proclaimed to all. I want to be a part of this call He has given us through sports ministry.

Tori Collar

Asst. to the Ex. Director, CESC & WPSL GK Coach

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Scott & Jessica Jones

Travis & Jessica Jones

Position: East Charlotte Ministry Director

About me

I am the East Charlotte Ministry Director. I live with my incredibly graceful wife, Jessica, and our three children in an East Charlotte refugee/immigrant community. Although our family may appear to be completely out of place, we feel right at home with our neighborhood friends. If you ever want to stop in or go grab a coffee please contact me.

Travis & Jessica Jones

East Charlotte Ministry Director

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