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Aaron Wade

Position: Youth

Biography
I am 25 years old, and a recent college graduate. I have a degree in Sports Management, and a minor in Bible and Theology. I played soccer for 21 years, and 4 years in college. This past summer I worked with the Charlotte Eagles in their internship program, and because of that experience I am working with them again.

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?
I was looking for an internship over the summer because it was a requirement for me to graduate. I happened to connect with an old high school and club teammate of mine and I asked him if he knew of anything or anyone that could allow me to fulfill my required internship. He told me about working with the Charlotte eagles and that I could work with the summer camps and join their internship program, so that’s what I did. I absolutely loved working with the summer camps and having the opportunity to witness to kids about God’s love and that’s why I came back because I do not feel that God is done with this season of my life. I always felt a strong calling to sports ministry and there is no better staff than the Charlotte team to do that with.

Aaron Wade

Youth

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Andy and Claire Guthrie

Andy & Claire Guthrie

Position: Youth

Biography
Both Claire and I cannot believe that we have already made it through one year of marriage! We often think back to that special day and are continually amazed at God’s presence and blessing and are so thankful that we got to share that experience with so many of our loved ones. The past year has been filled with new and challenging experiences; a new home, new jobs, newly wed, and even a new dog. There were difficult circumstances and also times of great joy and, through it all, we have been reminded of God’s provision for us. We are so excited to enter in to this new season of life with the Eagles and cannot wait to see what God has in store for us in Charlotte. We believe that we serve a God who goes before us and prepares the way and this opportunity is certainly a testament to His faithfulness.

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?
Soccer has always been a big part of our lives and over the last year and a half, I have felt more and more drawn to coaching. I believe that coaches can have a tremendous impact on the lives of their players. They provide a unique opportunity to not only train players to become more technically, physically, and mentally capable, but also exemplify and teach the value of servant-leadership, team over individual, mercy triumphing over judgement, and the importance of pursuing excellence in all things. On top of all that, I have the chance to help players, coaches, and parents know more about what it means to love and follow Jesus through the game of soccer, which is far more than I could ask for. I was fortunate to have coaches who fully invested in all areas of my life and I am so excited to pour my life back out in order to make the name of King Jesus known and bring glory to His Kingdom. I feel blessed and challenged to have the opportunity to take the most important part of my life, my relationship with Jesus, and combine it with my love for the game of soccer in the hope of seeing lives change for the glory of God.

Andy & Claire Guthrie

Youth

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Annie Speese

Annie Speese

Position: Elite

Biography

I was born and raised in Augusta, GA. I attended Westminster Schools of Augusta from Kindergarten through 12th grade where I received an awesome, foundational education in a Christian environment and accepted Jesus at a young age. I have two brothers, one is my twin, the other is a year older. I grew up playing all sorts of sports with them but fell in love with the game of soccer at a young age and never looked back.  I went to the University of Florida where I played for four years and graduated in December of 2014.  Leading into my junior year at Florida, I got involved with a sports ministry on campus for the first time.  Through that ministry, the Lord really began to grow my faith which had become somewhat stagnant up until that point. After graduating from college, I decided to play for the Lady Eagles the following summer.  After playing for a season, I committed to stay in Charlotte and join staff full time with the Lady Eagles.

How and why did you become a MAI Missionary?              

The summer before my junior year at the University of Florida I got involved with Athletes in Action (AIA), the sports ministry on our campus. I experienced and became a part of real, authentic community for the first time in my life (despite growing up at a private Christian school).  The Lord really used AIA to ignite a passion in me for following Jesus and sharing his love with others.  Through the leadership and mentoring of the staff, I got to be a part of the work that he proceeded to do on the UF soccer team and witness lives being transformed and seeds being planted.  Through my participation in this work, I saw that I had a huge heart for sports ministry and the platform/avenue that soccer can be for reaching and ministering to people.  As I continued pursuing my teammates, the Lord really showed me his heart for them and how much of an opportunity I had to share Jesus with them through the culture created by a team environment. In my last two years in college I got to witness several girls accept Christ, co-lead a team small group and pre-game devotionals, and watch as many seeds were planted through meaningful conversations about life and faith.  Leading up to graduation, I was not really sure what I wanted to do and had been considering several different things from playing, to coaching, to various internships and ministries.  I had heard about the Lady Eagles through a teammate and my coach and decided to play the summer after graduation.  When I got to Charlotte and joined the team, all the things that I am most passionate about– Jesus, soccer, ministry, and a team environment to cultivate transformation– lined up in a way that was extremely attractive to me.  Through a lot of prayer and conversation, it became very clear that the Lord was calling me to stay in Charlotte after playing that summer and be a part of the ministry through the Lady Eagles.

Annie Speese

Elite

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Austin Shaner

Austin Shaner

Position: Resident

Biography

My name is Austin Shaner, I was born in Vero Beach, FL and grew up in Anderson, IN. I love my family deeply and had a great upbringing. My dad was a youth & missions pastor, so from a young age, I watched Jesus change lives, including my own. At the age of three, it was discovered that I needed heart surgery. The discovery was a literal miracle and saved my life from an early death. Not only did God save my physical life but at the age of eight, Jesus saved my spiritual life, when I decided to follow him for the rest of my life. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” I have found true life in Christ and my passion is to share with others how they can find this life to the full.

In middle school, I wondered if there was a way to combine my passions for sports, kids, and Jesus. Over the next 10 years, not only did God teach me that it was possible, but He began to call me towards sports ministry. In high school, God opened my eyes to the fact that He wants to use everyone, no matter how young. I then asked a pastor to help me start a sports ministry. God worked through this ministry and in my own life in a mighty way. In college, I went to Warner University in Lake Wales, FL where I played soccer and prepared for incarnational sports ministry. In December 2017 I graduated and couldn’t be more excited about where the Lord is leading me. Every day is an adventure when you walk with Christ and the life that he offers.

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?
The Lord has been placing a call on my life to use sports to reach others with the gospel. Throughout college, at Warner University I prepared for incarnational sports ministry. The summer of 2016, I did the Chicago Eagles Academy and had a phenomenal experience where the Lord worked and deepened my call to sports ministry. This was my first experience working with MAI and where becoming an MAI Missionary peaked my interest. In the summer of 2017, I lived on the Island of Yap in Micronesia where I led a sports ministry all summer and God again chose to move in amazing ways. In Yap the Lord confirmed and deepened my call to full-time sports ministry. After a lot of prayer, the Lord directed me to MAI and the Charlotte Eagles and I couldn’t be more excited to serve the Charlotte community and share the hope of Christ.

Austin Shaner

Resident

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Carrie Maxwell

Carrie & Daniel Maxwell

Position: Asst WPSL and Club Coach
Brief Bio/Profile

I grew up in a small coastal town in North Carolina where soccer was the big attraction after summer ended. I was recruited by UNC-Charlotte to play soccer and was fortunate to get to spend my college career as a 49er. After college, I moved to Sweden where I played for a Division I team for two seasons. When I came back to Charlotte, I married my husband and began teaching high school social studies and coaching the soccer team where I worked. I could not be happier to be joining the Eagles staff!

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?

Soccer played a major role in my life and at certain points, I lost my identity in the game I loved. Nothing in this world can fill our souls the way Jesus’ everlasting and perfect love can. The blend of faith with competitive soccer at this organization cultivates growth in faith and in soccer. It creates an unmatched culture within any soccer organization I have been associated with that helps young players develop at many levels with so much support. I became a MAI missionary after playing with former Eagles, current Eagles, and being around the organization.

Carrie & Daniel Maxwell

Asst WPSL and Club Coach

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Chris Baity

Christopher & Brianne Baity

Position: Men's Team

Biography
As a child, I grew up in the church and was blessed to have known the Lord since I could remember. While in high school I felt the Lord’s calling in my life towards full time ministry. I attended Southeastern University and received a BS in Church Leadership. Five years ago the Lord opened the door for me to work using my two favorite passions, ministry and sports. I formerly served at First Presbyterian Church as the Director of SOAR (Sports Outreach and Recreation). I have now been blessed with the opportunity to work with the Charlotte Eagles and continue to grow in my love for ministry and soccer. I married my beautiful bride, Brianne Baity, in 2001 and have since been blessed with three amazing boys, Kale, Kaden, and Karson.

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?
At an early age I fell in love with sports. During my sports years, the men who impacted me the most have been my coaches. I learned many life lessons through sports and they have helped build my character. Sports, combined with growing up in the church, and learning about our amazing Lord led me to the desire for sports ministry. What better way is there to teach about the Gospel than with the universal language of soccer? A coach has the unique ability to impact their players with the teaching of how Life, Sport and The Gospel are connected. God has now blessed me with this amazing opportunity to work with the Charlotte Eagle’s and MAI who have the same vision!

Christopher & Brianne Baity

Men's Team

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Dan Miele

Daniel Miele

Position: International & Youth

Biography
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. I have been working for the Charlotte Eagles for the past year and a half as the International Tour Director.

How & why did you become 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

International & Youth

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Derrick Gonzales

Derick Gonzalez

Position: Youth

Biography
My name is Derick Gonzalez. I was born in Houston, Tx but was raised back and forth in Monterrey, Mx. Both of my parents were born in Monterrey and most of my family lives there now. I am the second oldest of 5 boys. I love soccer, but most importantly I love how I can use the sport to reach those who I never thought I could reach. I have been playing soccer since the age of 4 years old, but I plan to stop playing competitively this year. I believe God has called me to use the sport of soccer to preach the gospel and to bring glory to Him. I love to build relationships and truly be in community with others, I enjoy just hanging out and getting to know others with a cup of coffee.

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?
How I became part of MAI, was actually through PDL. I was recruited from my school Fort Hays State University. A small D2 school in the middle of Kansas. When I knew I was coming to a winning organization, I thought to myself, “I am going to become a pro soccer player”, but God had another plan. Coming into the 2017 summer, I dealt with a lot of identity problems and who I really was as a person. I wasn’t playing much and I wanted to leave Charlotte. But as time went on I started to really listen to coach Dixon and those around me. Something coach Dixon said was “If you walk with a purpose, you will collide with destiny”. That is something I live by every day. I knew I wanted to be a part of something bigger than me, and this is why I am joining MAI. To walk as a missionary and be part of the Charlotte Eagles. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for my life, but I am enjoying the present in every single moment.

Derick Gonzalez

Youth

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Drew & Maria Yates

Drew & Maria Yates

Position: Youth

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.

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

Youth

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Fernando Morales

Fernando Morales

Position: Resident

Biography

I was born in Mexico and moved to North Carolina when I was 3. My family didn’t have much to begin with but through the hard work that my dad put in we were able to live off pretty well. I went to church every Sunday but didn’t really care for it that much. My faith could be described as I believe in a higher power and if you do good things, good things happen to you and vise versa but I found out differently in college. I made bad habits in high school and college that really weren’t Christ like but when God has a hold of you, He NEVER let’s go. April 15, 2018 I got rebaptized and I haven’t wanted to stop chasing after Christ since then. One summer is all it took for me to realize God’s will for my life and that was missionary work. I enjoy getting to meet new people and hearing out their testimony or just conversing about their life and as well as sharing my upbringing and testimony.

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?

I did an internship for the Charlotte Eagles in the summer of 2018 because Charlotte Eagles had a great PDL team, they were local, I needed an internship, and I had only heard good things about them. I dreaded the internship but as I got to meet the MAI Missionaries and hear out their vision and goals, I really started to appreciate my internship and became attracted to their vision. This is where God led me to be and I know He gave me certain talents and skills to use for His glory and that’s what I want to do. I wouldn’t have ever thought of myself as becoming a missionary but here I am and I love it. It’s crazy to me that majority of my life I enjoyed playing and watching soccer more than anything in my life and now I just enjoy talking about life and Jesus Christ more than anything else.

Fernando Morales

Resident

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Garrett and Amanda Bireline

Garrett and Amanda Bireline

Position: Men's Team & Youth

Biography

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 did you become 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 and Amanda Bireline

Men's Team & Youth

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Hunter & Lauren Rosenberg

Hunter & Lauren Rosenberg

Position: Youth

Biography

From a young age I knew soccer was something that I always wanted to be apart of my life. I always dreamt of playing on the biggest stages in front of thousands of people; thankfully God always has wiser plans than us. After a successful high school career, the way I saw the game started to change. I was accepted to Eastern University, a Christian school right outside of Philadelphia, and began to learn that soccer wasn’t about me or my own success, rather it was for God’s glory. This was when Christ changed my heart, and I gave my life to Him in the winter of 2012. Since then, I have been able to see the way God has used and continues to use the game of soccer to change peoples hearts. Whether it was participating in sports ministry work in England, or witnessing my teammates lives changing in His name, the game of soccer went from a personal passion, to Gods platform for my life.

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?

Upon graduation from college in 2016, I wasn’t sure what I where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do from that point on. I graduated with a Marketing and Management degree, so naturally I jumped right into the business world. After about a year in that field, I began to have the conviction that God wanted to use me and my passion for soccer for His kingdom, however, I had no idea what that looked like or where to begin. I spontaneously reached out to Josh Wood, knowing he was active in youth ministry, hoping he would have some advice or guidance. After an encouraging phone call conversation, he presented the opportunity to come see what the Charlotte Eagles are all about. My wife Lauren and I traveled down to visit over Thanksgiving and immediately felt that this was where God was calling us.

Hunter & Lauren Rosenberg

Youth

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Jackie Weston

Jackie Weston

Position: Youth

About me:

I grew up in the town of Mooresville, just north of Charlotte, NC. I played soccer and studied Exercise Science at the College of Charleston. My favorite things are meeting new people, being outdoors, baking, exploring new places, and playing games of any kind (especially soccer). My pet peeve is misspelled words and I enjoy studying languages. Above all, I am a recipient of abundant grace and adopted child of the Triune God, learning each day of my desperate need for Jesus. Because He died the death on the cross that I deserve and was raised to life, I am now forgiven, saved, and freed from my endless shortcomings through faith. By His righteousness and sacrifice, I have infinite freedom and joy. May this Good News be taken to the ends of the earth giving life, hope, and salvation to all those who would believe in Jesus.

How & Why did you become a MAI Missionary?

Upon graduating college, I continued to pursue the passion God has given me towards practice in healthcare. Since high school, the idea of overseas medical mission work tugged on my heartstrings as an opportunity to help, love, serve, and experience people of all kinds. It was also an example led by Jesus, Himself. Little did I know that my life would take a turn for a new direction. Through a mutual friend, I was connected to a weekend event, called the Summit, with the Charlotte Urban Eagles and MAI just a month after I graduated. When we sat in a circle introducing ourselves and experiences in sports ministry, I explained that I had played soccer from age 6 through college and over time, God taught me that my purpose in soccer was to glorify Him and share the love of Christ with teammates. Despite a great love and passion for the game, God had other things in mind when He called me away from the sport my latter half of college. The remaining years were spent investing in a campus ministry as a disciple, learning to make disciples of my own, and studying in school. Thus, I was given soccer experience and ministry experience, but the idea of the two together was just a dream.

When I was exposed to the work God was doing through the Urban Eagles program, I fell in love with it. The idea of using soccer to transcend cultural, language, and other barriers with people resonated with my heart. The game has played a huge part in teaching me about the character of God, others, and myself. Something I loved that was once taken away was returned—with interest! Although, this was not what I planned for after college, I believe God’s plan is always greater than I can ask or imagine. I am thankful for this opportunity and joyfully look forward to how God will use it for His glory!

Jackie Weston

Youth

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Jake Berry

Position: Youth

Biography

I  was born and raised in Delaware, and grew up going to church sparingly. I decided to commit my life to Christ in Feburary of 2007, my sophomore year of high school. God then allowed me to go to Messiah College to play soccer and get my degree in Business Administration. After college, I decided that I wanted to become a coach, so I coached spent my first year out of college coaching at Messiah College. Then decided to go coach at Campbell University, after the fall there in 2014, felt God calling me to Charlotte.

 

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?

I have known for a long time that I desired to be a life influencer through being a coach. My father was a coach and I had been influenced by many coaches through out my life, in many positive ways. In my 4 years of college soccer I got to see how boys became men through the influence of a couple coaches . Seeing this impact has instilled in me a desire to be that for young men. I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Colombia on a missions trip with the Charlotte Eagles during my playing days at Messiah. After hearing about the organization and seeing the coaches that have come through MAI, most of which I admired deeply, I knew that was the type of coach I was called to be. So afterexperiencing being a coach for a few years, i started to see that I needed a better base for being the type of coach I wanted to be. Through some of my friends here in Charlotte, it was revealed to me that God wanted me to come to Charlotte to serve and to be a sponge so that when I do go out and have my own program, I will be prepared and taught by some of the best transformational coaches across the country!

 

Jake Berry

Youth

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James and Hope Miler

James and Hope Miller

Biography
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 did you become 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 and Hope Miller

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Jonathan and Courtney Weaver

Jonathan & Courtney Weaver

Position: Youth

Biography
I was born in Dallas, Texas, but was actually raised in Italy where my parents were called to be missionaries. We lived there for 7 years and in that time my love for the game of soccer was born. I decided to commit my life to Christ in July of 2007. After high school, God provided the path for me to be able to play soccer for Messiah College and get my degree in Business Administration. After college, I had the opportunity to coach the goalkeepers for Messiah and a nearby club, so I spent my first year out of college coaching year-round. It was during that fall of 2017 that I felt God calling my fiancé and I down to work with MAI in Charlotte.

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?
In my 4 years in college, I was able to go on an international trip to Colombia with soccer team. It amazed me the way that a soccer ball was able to make an avenue for God’s love to be shared even when neither party spoke the same language. All God needs is a soccer ball. Ever since then I knew that I wanted to use the gifts God has given me to help people grow and know Jesus through the beautiful game of soccer. When a friend who was working and coaching for MAI explained to me that they did just that, there was no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be able to turn away from an opportunity to use the gifts God has given me to glorify his name through the game of soccer.

Jonathan & Courtney Weaver

Youth

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Joseph & Emmas Kabwe

Joseph & Emmah Kabwe

Position: Youth

Biography

Born and raised in Zimbabwe. Married to Emmah and we are blessed with two wonderful kids, Praise(son) and Passion(daughter).

How and Why did you become a MAI Missionary?

In 2007, when I was signed by the Charlotte Eagles straight from college, the beginning of my journey into ministry began after suffering a career threatening injury on my left leg and confessed with my mouth that I would not play soccer again.

Now that I look back into my life I can see God’s grace upon my life being able to play from 2007-2013 (6yrs). The seed the Eagles planted in my life has sprouted over time and the desire for sports ministry is evident after a close look at my life and noticing that it’s not all about me but giving hope to the hopeless especially children. I want to point people to Jesus who transformed people’s lives.

Joseph & Emmah Kabwe

Youth

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Josh and Corinne Wood

Josh & Corinne Wood

Position: Youth

About me:

I graduated with a degree in Cross-cultural ministry from Messiah College. While there I developed a heart for sports ministry due in large part to Brad McCarty, Aaron Faro (both former Eagles) and the Biblical and Religious studies department at Messiah. During my time at Messiah I served in the local Church at West Shore Evangelical Free as a Sunday School teacher while also interning there as well for one summer. I was fortunate enough to also play soccer for the Men’s team at Messiah. The experience of playing for Messiah Men’s soccer is one that I am extremely grateful for and it undoubtedly altered the course of my life forever.

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?   

The Eagles have provided me the opportunity to use soccer as a platform to share the encouragement and hope that comes from a relationship rooted in Christ. Every morning I wake up knowing that today I am doing what God created me to do. That is a great feeling!

Josh & Corinne Wood

Youth

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Kyle Hunt

Kyle Hunt

Position: Youth

Biography

My name is Kyle Hunt, I am 26 years old from Lansing, Michigan. I moved to Charlotte when I was 14 years old and have called this city home ever since. I went to Milligan College in Johnson City, TN from 2008-2012 and graduated with a degree in Business Administration. While there was a member of the soccer team and participated in the Chicago Eagles Summer Academy Program. After graduation I served with an organization called One7 Ministries where I helped develop the sports ministry program.

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?

I joined MAI because the people who had the biggest impact in my life growing up were MAI Coaches. I wanted the opportunity to continue to learn how to use the sport I love to reach people for Christ. I believe I have been made to influence the lives of young men to point them towards the Gospel.

Kyle Hunt

Youth

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Luke Helmuth

Position: Youth & Residency

Website: http://www.lukeslighthousetales.com

Biography

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 did you become 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

Youth & Residency

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Macy Rutledge

Macy Rutledge

Position: Youth

Biography

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 did you become 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

Youth

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Mark and Dianne Steffens

Mark & Diane Steffens

Position: Elite & Youth

Biography

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 did you become 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

Elite & Youth

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Mary Toohey

Mary Toohey

Position: Youth

Biography

“If you’re not doing something to make someone else’s life better, you’re wasting your time.”

This quote has stuck with me since I heard it for the first time my Junior year of college, and it is a big reason I am at the Charlotte Eagles today! I attended Gardner-Webb University for the purpose of playing soccer, and graduated May of 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. Though I love science and all things medically inclined, I also have a heart for Jesus and athletes. The Lord has continued to reveal his plan for my life over the last year, and part of that process has brought me to the MAI family! Here, I have been able to invest in the lives of young girls through coaching and spending time outside of practice, and have had the opportunity to sit under great mentorship and leadership within this organization.

I am incredibly excited to partner with you all, our Abba Father is doing great things, and we need to keep proclaiming that with confidence throughout his kingdom!

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?

Word of mouth is a thing! I have several dear friends who were part of the Charlotte Eagles staff, and after observing and hearing about their experience, I knew that was a vision I wanted to be a part of. The Lord definitely had his hand over the timing of it all.

Mary Toohey

Youth

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Matt and Lauren Barber

Matt & Lauren Barber

Position: Youth

Biography

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 did you become 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 Matt’s 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. Matt is currently serving as the Director of Ministry — overseeing staff care. 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

Youth

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Matthew Graham

Matthew Graham

Position: Resident

Biography

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 did you become a MAI Missionary? 

This past summer 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 Josh Wood who is on staff with the Eagles, who had also known 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 teammates 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

Resident

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Mike and Claire Freace

Mike & Claire Freace

Position: Charlotte Executive Director

Latest News
We are excited to be 75%. The Lord has blessed us with many ministry partners already and we are extremely excited about our support team moving forward.

The Lord has provided a great home and school for our family. Our new address is 6011 Lebanon Road, Mint Hill, NC 28227. Our children are attending Covenant Day School where Claire is serving as the 8th grade Language Arts teacher.

Prayers and Needs
The remaining 25% of support needed
Church – That God will give us clarity on our new church home
Parenting – please pray that we will know how to be godly parents to our children as we help them walk through life

Biography
– married to Claire and has three children. Claire has been involved in education professionally while Madeleine is 13, Sean is 11 and Jack is 8.
– graduate of Houghton College where he played collegiately for 4 years from 1993-1997. Played in three NAIA National Tournaments.
– served as assistant coach at Roberts Wesleyan College from 2001-2004. During his time at Roberts, they attended two national tournaments. Received his masters degree in Organization Management in 2004.
– served as head coach at Westminster Schools of Augusta for 17 years (17 years coaching boys, 10 years coaching girls). Won 9 state championships and 24 region championships. Named GISA Coach of the Year 9x, Augusta Chronicle Coach of the year 9x, Augusta Sports Council Coach of the Year, Augusta Sports Council Gold Medal for Outstanding Coaching and Region Coach of the Year 23x.
– served as Principal, Dean of Students, Director of Student Life and Athletic Director during his time at Westminster.
– served in church leadership with the Quest Church as Vision Chair and Leadership Team Chair
– helped form a non profit and served as Chair for A Better Belize
– went on tours with the Eagles in 1998 and 1995.

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?
It was very simply a clear calling from God. For years God worked on my heart and helped me to understand that He has gifted me with very specific gifts in leadership, and that there was a specific calling that went with those gifts. He used individuals within MAI that I had been in contact with for years to encourage me during many years of questioning. It became clear to me that God had molded me to be part of a relationally focused ministry that shared my passion to reach others on a full time basis.

I know that I am involved in a ministry that allows me to develop partnerships with like minded people and a great support team that together can influence the next generation of fathers, mothers, leaders, coaches and professionals. I count it as a God given honor to be part of this ministry.

Mike & Claire Freace

Charlotte Executive Director

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Noah & Raelyn Bucy

Noah & Raelyn Bucy

Position: Youth

Biography

Soccer has always been a huge part of my life. I’ve played my whole life and I’ve now coached the last five years. I have coached both high school and club soccer and now I’m working with the Charlotte Eagles in sports ministry. Doing what I love; coaching and changing the lives of the youth that I am coaching.

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?

For the past few years, I have contemplated a life in ministry.  My wife, Raelyn, and I are excited to share with you that this dream is becoming a reality for us!  Soccer has always been a large part of both of our lives.  We both grew up playing the game and it is also how we met, on a soccer field!  We continued to play throughout college and are now anticipating to see where this adventure will take us on this side of the soccer field!  I (Noah) have always had a passion for mentoring youth as a coach and strive to be a Godly example.  My love for soccer and relationship with God pushed me in the direction of sports ministry.  I got connected with a few coaches with the Eagles, after having lunch with them I knew they were the people I was supposed to be with. It all just fit like a glove, and I could not be more excited to be a part of the Eagles with my wife, Raelyn. I am looking forward to being able to use my love for soccer to bring glory to God.

Noah & Raelyn Bucy

Youth

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Beka Severs

Rebekah Severs

Position: Youth

Biography
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 did you become 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

Youth

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Sam & Chuck Hope

Samantha & Chuck Hope

Position: Youth & Elite

Biography
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 did you become 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

Youth & Elite

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Scott Brittingham

Scott Brittingham

Position: Resident

Biography

In 2017, I graduated from Messiah College with a degree in Applied Health Science. While at Messiah, I managed for the Messiah Men’s team and played club. From a young age, the game of soccer has played an important role in my life. Not only do I enjoy playing the game, but the rich community around soccer is irreplaceable. I currently live in Philadelphia and flip houses in the greater Philly area.

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?

I was first introduced to the Charlotte Eagles shortly after I graduated when a college friend and current Charlotte Eagles staff member was in town and reached out to me. Over lunch, he shared with me about his role at the Charlotte Eagles and his passion for the organization. He shared with me about an opportunity to be part of the organization. I enjoyed my current job and since I was not actively looking for a new job, I was hesitant. I was prayerful over the decision, and after many lengthy conversations, I began feeling called to Charlotte and to serve at the Charlotte Eagles.

Scott Brittingham

Resident

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Stephen Heintz

Position: Resident
Biography

I graduated from Gordon College in 2019 with a Business Administration degree. Played two years of college soccer at Catholic University before transferring to Gordon College where I played my final two seasons. I am originally from Boxford, Massachusetts where my parents still reside, and I have three sisters, Lilly, Emily, and Anna. Throughout my college years I have always had a desire for service. This desire to serve through sports ministry was affirmed when I had the opportunity to travel to Jamaica last year and the Dominican Republic this past winter. While my trip to Jamaica wasn’t necessarily with sports in mind, I found myself using it to reach, an otherwise hard to reach, population. Soccer seemed to provide a non-threatening platform for me to enter into relationships with the youth. While in the DR, I used soccer more intentionally to pave the way for me to share the Gospel, again with a population very different from myself, yet I found through soccer that we all have the same basic needs. That is to feel loved and that your life holds purpose.

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary?

Becoming an MAI missionary means to me that I set aside an ideal of natural next steps post college. Such things as finding a job, paying back student loans, and living independently. It means focusing less on myself and more on how I can use my God-given talent of soccer in a way that is God honoring and other serving. I believe with all my heart that I have been given an opportunity to take soccer and meet the needs of others in a very impactful way.

Stephen Heintz

Resident

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Tori Collar

Tori Collar

Position: Youth

Biography

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 and why did you become 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

Youth

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Scott & Jessica Jones

Travis & Jessica Jones

Position: Youth

Biography

Travis is a Charlotte Eagles Youth Club Director. He lives with his incredibly graceful wife, Jessica, and their three children in an East Charlotte refugee/immigrant community. Although he and his family appear to be completely out of place, they feel right at home with their neighborhood friends. If you ever want to stop in or go grab a coffee you can contact Travis.

Travis & Jessica Jones

Youth

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