“God was really prompting me to go and say hello during a time-out.” Bradley says, “I didn’t expect the opportunity that was created.”
Shanay Bradley had been serving for the last 3 years as the Syracuse West area representative and really enjoying making connections in unique ways. “I don’t even play soccer but that didn’t matter,” she continued. And with a message of perseverance in the face of adversity and a hope that rises above every challenge, she continues to minister to area athletes and coaches representing Christ in a tangible and practical way.
Bradley only had one other chance to interact with these players and this particular coach – before this moment.
“It was being able to watch them at a team builder that really opened my eyes to some realities about coaching girls,” Bradley says. “In stressful situations on the field, most girls need a good amount of time away from the action to reset and then re-engage. The challenge comes when players can’t necessarily take a break and walk away.”
The team builder challenge she was referring to involved various field tasks for the athletes to accomplish while confined to a big hula hoop. “Basically, there was a lot of coordinated bending, army crawling and stretching happening to meet their goal. The girls were definitely being “stretched” to beat the challenge that day – and they succeeded.
But this was the real thing – and tensions were high.
“I think it was seeing one of the girls in the game just about to lose it, that pushed me to act,” Bradley says. “I wasn’t really sure how I would be used or what I might say.” But because she had already gained some trust with the players and this new coach, the opportunity came.
There, in that time-out, the coach was doing a good job drawing correlations between the challenges of the game and the challenges of life. He was echoing the lessons learned at the team builder.
“I was surprised when he asked me to say a few words,” Bradley said. “But God gave me the words to say.” She was able to support the coach by affirming his words and provided a calming presence for the girls. She said to them, “We all need to understand that mistakes happen and sometimes it’s hard to push through that feeling. But, you can’t stay in that head space.”
Bradley went on to really connect in that moment. The moment was effective for the girls and as well as a special highlight for her. And even though the stressed girl may not have asked for it, she received a hug from Bradley. “With both the coach and the players, I believe a seed was planted that day. And that’s special to me.”
Bradley is motivated to help provide support for those who are lost as she lives out Proverbs 11:14 — Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is victory.