How Managers on a Mission Gave a Basketball Coach a Whole New Perspective

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Photo via MOAM

(*MOAM is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports)

Since 2013, Managers on a Mission (MOAM) has been shaping the sports industry leaders of tomorrow with a host of Christian service-learning projects in the United States and across the world.

Every summer, founder Drew Boe still leads mission trips to locations like Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, and Ghana, where he and a small group of students live and work in a community while building a connection with local young people through shared loves of sport and the gospel.

In the six years since MOAM’s inception, many alumni of these service-learning trips have gone on to fulfilling careers in sport. Several alumni stay heavily involved in the organization to pass on their experience to the next generation.

Over the next few months, we’ll be highlighting some of these MOAM alumni who are continuing to make a difference in the sports world. Today we start with Trevecca Nazarene University (TNU) assistant men’s basketball coach James Morrison.

A 2016 graduate of the University of South Carolina, Morrison came across a Twitter posting after his senior year asking for applicants for MOAM’s upcoming mission trip. Initially apprehensive because of the time commitment and doubts about his own resume, Morrison held off applying.

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“Before the trip, I wasn’t incredibly strong in my faith,” Morrison said. “I’ve always been a Christian, but I didn’t feel that I was living the Christian life. I knew these other girls or guys in the program were straight-A students who were just so strong in the faith that they were on fire for the Lord. I just didn’t see myself as that just yet.”

The following year, however, Morrison continued to hear glowing recommendations about MOAM from past participants, and decided to apply. In the summer of 2018, Morrison joined MOAM’s mission trip to Uganda. Morrison and four other others spent three weeks in a small village teaching local children to play sports like basketball, volleyball, and American football while also leading them in daily worship. To this day, Morrison describes the experience as the best three weeks of his life.

“Seeing the smiling faces of those kids, so full of joy every day, helped me see how amazing God truly is,” he remembered. “When we would teach them a new game, they were so happy. It was like they were visiting Disney World for the first time.”

Morrison also adds that the experience energized him throughout the day thanks to the joy MOAM brought to the village through the power of sport.

“I was a big coffee drinker before the trip. During the trip, though, I would wake up around six in the morning and didn’t go to bed until midnight and I was just full of energy all day without coffee.”

Most young people in the sports industry can attest that getting a career off the ground can be a stressful experience. After experiencing the mission trip, however, Morrison has a new perspective on his career and his faith that has helped him take good first steps as a college basketball coach. After working as an assistant coach at Huntingdon College for just over a year, Morrison has been on staff at Trevecca Nazarene University for the last six months.

“Before this trip,” Morrison said, “something I usually struggled with was anxiety — worrying about the next job, or the next relationship or where I am going to be in a year or two. The experience with MOAM allowed me to let some pressure off myself because I know God has a plan and I just need to listen to him.”

Working with the children in Uganda and understanding their lives has helped Morrison gain a better understanding of life’s bigger picture.

“At previous jobs, little things would upset me because I looked at it from a selfish perspective. I used to struggle sometimes with checking myself and wondering whether or not I’m doing the right things. MOAM helped me reevaluate myself a little bit. These kids in Uganda were willing to do what they needed to do to survive and were very happy the majority of the time — and their situation is way worse than mine. The whole thing helped me realize that I need to be willing to do whatever, whenever, because I know there’s a purpose behind it all.”

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Overall, Morrison firmly believes that taking part in MOAM and the trip to Uganda made him a better basketball coach and a better leader.

“I used to only worry about wins and losses. Now I’m more focused on our culture and guy’s mentality first. Obviously, I want to win, but I think I’ve gotten much better at keeping things in perspective.”

Even with a busy schedule leading the TNU Trojans on the court, Morrison still stays active with MOAM and the organization’s leadership team. In addition to attending conferences and speaking about his experience with MOAM, Morrison plans to lead a mission trip of his own with MOAM sometime during the summer of 2019.

Applications for the 2019 summer mission trip are due by March 1. For any aspiring athletics professionals also looking to grow in their Christian faith, alumni like Morrison cannot recommend the experience enough.

“Applying for MOAM was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. I can’t think of anything close. God has some special plans for the future of this organization.”

Applications for the 2019 summer mission trip can be submitted here. Potential applicants should contact MOAM Director of Discipleship Seth Ralston at sralston@managersonamission.org with any further questions.

(*MOAM is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports)