Hendrix Sluggers Spend Summer in Sports Ministry

CONWAY, Ark. (July 10, 2013) – Hendrix baseball players Collin Radack and Matt Simmons are spending their summer playing for Athletes in Action (AIA).

AIA is a global sports ministry with four baseball teams located in the Dominican Republic, Alaska, New York, and the Great Lakes. Teams are made up of students from colleges, universities, and junior colleges across the nation.

Many Hendrix student-athletes play during the summer, but Radack and Simmos are enjoying a unique experience, according to men’s baseball coach Neil Groat.

“What is unique is that while those guys are learning valuable baseball skills that will certainly help our program in the long term, their mission and community work really centers on their personal spiritual development,” Groat said.

Radack, a senior business and economics major from Austin, Texas, plays in the Alaska Baseball League.

“Playing so many games against high level competition really helps me to polish my skills that I need to someday play professional baseball, but what I love most is the spiritual side of things,” said Radack, who also played for the Xenia Scouts on the Great Lakes team last year. “I am truly indebted to the program.”

When not playing and practicing baseball, the teams join in local service projects, including youth baseball clinics, spending time at the Ronald McDonald House, and assisting local churches with their needs.

Simmons, a junior from Bedford, Texas, is an outfielder for the Rochester Ridgeman, a team in the New York Collegiate Baseball League.

In addition to other service work, Simmons’ team has worked with Inner City Ministry in Webster, N.Y., and the Webster Challenger baseball program, which gives physically and mentally disabled kids a chance to play baseball.

Beginning their days with team discipleship and bible studies at a local church both Radack and Simmons follow similar schedules set by the program, ultimately playing baseball six days a week so 40 games a summer season.

“It's been incredible to get to know these guys, especially because we are all pursuing to become total athletes,” said Simmons. “A total athlete is one that is physically, mentally and spiritually prepared for the competition and adversity that will arise.”

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the fifth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. Hendrix is featured in the 2012 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country’s best 377 colleges, the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, Forbes magazine's annual list of America's Top 650 Colleges, and the 2013 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.