Photo courtesy of Athletes in Action
Photo courtesy of Athletes in Action

Group encourages athletes to embrace faith

Every Tuesday from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Rovere Room, a mixture of students come together to share their religious beliefs and athletic lifestyles. 

This organization, known as Athletes in Action (AIA) helps sports-minded students live their lives with a connection and relationship with God. 

The Christian group also welcomes students who are not involved in athletics and students of all religious backgrounds.

It is an organization all around the world including Wake Forest.

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Once a week, around 30 to 40 students come together to sing, pray and listen to the speaker of the week. 

Each session begins with a worship song which is then followed by a prayer and the speaker.

At the same time, a prayer box is distributed throughout the students so that they can anonymously write down their prayers to God. 

Krysta Wangerin, a senior on the women’s field hockey team at Wake Forest, said AIA is a place where students learn to develop personal relationships with God and not be so caught up with the religion part.

“We are called to love and worship our God together, and on Tuesday nights we have a special and comforting atmosphere to do exactly that,” Wangerin said. “I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a very religious person, but I have a very personal and intimate relationship with God. That’s something unique and refreshing that I have learned throughout my time at Wake Forest from AIA.”

“This is a place where students involved in athletics come together and can really be vulnerable around each other,” said Millessa Callicot, a former Wake Forest women’s basketball player and new AIA intern.

Callicot said that the organization provides a safe community for students to really delve into their connection and relationship with God through their sport.

“Students are encouraged to get out of their comfort zone while learning how to trust and rely on God,” Callicot said.  “As a student athlete here at Wake Forest, AIA helped me realize that God had a plan for me and that [basketball] isn’t the rest of my life.”

Lindsay Kerr, a former track and field runner at Wake Forest and AIA intern, said that AIA is a safe environment where students can go to hangout with a purpose.

“AIA is a refreshing place where students can go to learn who God is and a place that isn’t church. It is just very different,” Kerr said.

AIA helped her understand her religion better and took the pressure of academics and athletics off when attending Wake, she said. 

Kerr spoke of how she encourages others to realize who they are competing for when playing their sport. 

Callicot and Kerr both described this organization as a community that really makes the students feel like they have a safe place that feels like home.

The organization’s biggest mission is to help students connect with God through the language of sport. Caroline Wootten, a junior on the women’s soccer team at Wake Forest, described students involved with AIA as her second family.

“AIA is a place that really just feels like home,” Wootten said. “It has been such a safe haven for me ever since my freshman year.”

She said it is a place where she goes to love and be loved.

Wootten had difficulty forming words on what AIA has done for her and her career at Wake Forest. She said it has shown her how to live her life with a greater purpose and how to truly love her faith.

“It has introduced me to the most important people in my life,” Wootten said. “It has given me mentors and best friends.”

She explained how this organization has given her the most confidence that she has ever had. 

Wooten expressed how all she wants is for everyone to feel the joy she feels because of what AIA has shown her.

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