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Can a football team change a community for Christ?

Todd Gerelds is the son of Tandy Gerelds, the head coach of Woodlawn High the same School Woodlawn the movie was named after. Todd Gerelds witness first hand how 40 football players excepting Christ into their lives, can change not only his ... ... Read Transcript


My dad became the head football coach

at Woodlawn High School in 1971.

He was 29 years old.

He didn't know that he was going to be-- his first year of head

coaching was going to be the year

that the federal government mandated integration

of the high schools.

From about '63 through '71, Birmingham

had become known as Bombingham because the prevalence

of bombings that were executed by the KKK

and other white supremacists and other racists who

just didn't like black people.

And so the kids coming into the school,

they had never been around white people.

And the white kids had never been around black people.

And it wasn't like everyone hated each other.

But there was a lot of suspicion, a lot of fear.

Dad came into that situation and he just wanted to win.

He was very driven to win.

And he was looking for some way to be

able to have some unity on his team at Woodlawn.

The first couple of years that he coached,

the teams had moderate success.

They were-- the first year they were like five and five.

And then they were seven and three.

But there were still just cliques.

It wasn't that they were always fighting.

It's just that the black guys were over here

and the white guys were over here.

Dad was having a camp.

And camp was a glorified way of saying you're

going to sleep in the gym.

So he had all his team.

They would eat breakfast.

They'd go practice.

They'd come eat lunch.

They'd go practice and then come in, have dinner.

And he would try to have a motivational speaker

or something like that.

And it was at that time that a man

named Wales Goebel came to my dad's office

and asked if he could speak to the football team.

My dad said, what do you want to talk to my kids about?

And he said, I want to talk to them about Jesus.

And my dad, at that time, my dad really

felt like if you came to know Christ, you'd get soft.

And he said no.

And Wales Goebel continued to push him.

And dad relented and said, OK, I'll

you about 15 minutes after dinner tonight.

Wales shared the gospel.

And the entire team came to Christ.

And my dad didn't.

He sat up in the bleachers above all the guys

and watched this spectacle unfold beneath him.

He also thought in the back of his mind

that these guys, this will wear off.

This is an emotional experience.

He went to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting.

It was in a white-- all white section of town,

in a little more wealthy area.

And he was concerned that the family would not

let the black kids in.

And he was afraid that maybe the black kids wouldn't show up.

And dad went and saw that this family was welcoming

all the kids, and that the black kids and the white kids

were sitting with their arms around each other.

They're praying together.

They were laughing.

And my dad said he didn't have that in him.

He just-- he didn't have what they had.

He slipped out the back and began praying as he drove home,

and arrived back at our house and got on his knees

and met Jesus that night.

And he said from that moment on, he knew how to love people.

From that day forward, as his son,

there wasn't a day that went by when we were together

that I can remember him not either kissing me on the head

or hugging me and telling me he loved me.

He became a lover of people.

After dad came to Christ, the influence

of the gospel on the football team

was starting to spread into the community through the kids.

Likewise, probably similar to how it had affected my dad,

there were teachers who began to see

the difference in the students.

And really it just became an undeniable revival.

It was, the spirit of God was working.

It's just amazing to see what God can

do when just simple obedience--

You know, Wales Goebel obeyed God

and went and spoke to this football team.

My dad was a regular old football coach.

He just wanted to win games.

But when Christ got a hold of him,

it transformed him and he began to do

things for the right reasons.

And God did something miraculous through the city.

Where we are today is not too dissimilar from what it

was like here in 1973 and 1974.

And as a result, what God can do today

is not dissimilar from then either.

It's-- he can come in and do a revival.

I deeply desire that we, as the body of Christ,

begin to be unified.

And therefore, the world will know

that we are his disciples by the love that we have,

one for another.

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