Why I Play: Rafe Kinder

When asked to write this “Why I Play”, I was struggling to decide what in particular to talk about. The game of baseball has been so good to me over the years; narrowing it down is hard. Whether it be the amazing teams I have played on, the great coaches I have been blessed with, or the two state championships I have been a part of, when I look back at it,  I play because baseball is so much more than just a game to me; it is my church.

I have been playing baseball for as long as I can remember. I played football and basketball growing up as well, however, baseball has been the only sport I have played throughout my high school career. Literally from age 5 to age 18 I have been on the baseball field. Growing up I wasn’t always the biggest fan of baseball; after all, it is a game of failure. Baseball is one of the only sports where one can do his job 3 out of 10 times and consider himself successful. Even with this being the case, I always found myself drawn to the baseball field.  Amongst all the craziness of the game, there is a sense of peace about being on the Diamond.

Baseball has always taught me valuable lessons, but it took the Valor baseball team to truly open my eyes to the real meaning of it all. I am convinced that if it weren’t for the Valor Baseball program and the coaches who lead it, I wouldn’t be half the man I am today.  The Valor Baseball program has taught me more about life and faith then any church could ever try to. This program taught me the importance of brotherhood, not only on the baseball field but in life. Life and faith are like baseball in the sense that many times it feels like an uneven battle.  A battle where the player is outnumbered 9 to 1, just like when he is up to bat. When in reality, it is a battle that he goes through with an entire brotherhood behind him. Even when he fails, they are there to pick him up and bring him back to the game. Baseball has humbled me in the sense that I quickly learned that I am not enough to win a game. Without my brothers behind me, I am nothing. Just like how in life I can try to go about it on my own as much as I want, but without Jesus and my brotherhood, I am nothing.

During the 2018 season, I was blessed to be apart of the most special thing I have ever been a part of, and I am not talking about the state championship we won that year, but rather something so much more. This is the church I have been going to for a year or so now, and it’s not a building, but a group of my peers who truly wanted something more than baseball, who wanted to know God. The baseball bible study started out by me sending out a text to see who would be interested in attending. I led the first one, where 6 guys showed up to my house. We had these bible studies weekly on Sundays throughout the season, and towards the end of the season, we had the entire team coming together  in fellowship with one another. We were not worrying about baseball, instead we were learning about God and growing in our relationships with Him. At the end of the season, we had 9 players get baptized on our field with 2 people who had found Christ for the first time. To me, that day was our state championship, not because of a baseball win, but because of a win for the kingdom of God.

Everything that happened last year is thanks to God and our amazing coaching staff for leading us to God and encouraging us to make a brotherhood that was real. The baseball bible study has continued into this year. I consider all the baseball boys of the 2018 team and all the new guys to the Varsity team this year, my brothers, and the coaches my mentors. So like I said in the beginning, there are many reasons Why I Play. For me, there is nothing like the game of baseball. Baseball is where I find God, it is my church.