Local athletes, coaches relate to Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow

Local athletes, coaches relate to Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow

Wearing a Fellowship of Christian Athletes shirt, Roger Walters, head coach for the Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team, directs his players during practice at Brownson Arena.

Mac Alexander knows the challenge of playing sports while trying to live a Christian lifestyle.

The Colorado Mesa University student-athlete and Montrose native was raised in a Christian home.

He came to Mesa to play football, but a spine injury forced him to give up the sport. He’s now on the men’s basketball team.

“People have high standards for you,” Alexander said. “I embrace it. I try to do the right thing so I don’t embarrass myself.

“You know people are watching you. I’m not perfect, but when I tackled someone, I tried to help them back up. I’d usually pray with the team after the game.”

Although Alexander would risk paralysis if he played another down in football, he, like many other young Christian athletes, are inspired by Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

“I love the guy,” Alexander said. “I’ve followed him through college and how he carries himself.

“When he was at Florida, he raised so much money for his foundation and went on mission trips. I wanted to do that, so I went on a mission trip last Christmas (in 2010). He’s a big inspiration. I’m not a huge Broncos fan, but I’m a Tebow fan.”

Tebow has caught the attention of nearly everyone, Christian or not, and many Christian athletes admire the Broncos quarterback.

“There’s not a lot of people that are comfortable in their religion,” CMU women’s basketball player Kelsey Sigl said. “Right away, it was like, ‘Is he faking it?’ You hear his coaches and teammates talk about him and he lives the lifestyle of a real Christian.”

Tebow isn’t the first Christian to play in the NFL, nor is he the first to proclaim his faith.

“I think he’s a great role model,” CMU football player and Palisade graduate Jake Edmiston said. “He’s one of the first to be outspoken about it. A lot of athletes have faith and believe in God, but he’s always saying how he’s blessed to play.”

Tebow is likely the most popular Christian athlete, at least for young athletes.

“He’s awesome,” Fruita Monument senior football player Trey Thygerson said. “I want to be like him. He’s such a hard worker. He is everything I want to be like.

“(Christians) are always trying to be like the best example and that’s Jesus.”

Need proof?

Tebow kneels and prays so much before, during and after games, the act is now called ‘Tebowing.’

“He does it because he’s used to (praying),” Grand Junction High School senior basketball player Garrett Harrison said. “He’s not going to let anybody stop him.”

“He’s really open about it and people aren’t used to that,” Grand Junction senior tennis player Nicky Arja said, “even though most teams pray in the locker room. People need to get used to it or ignore it.”

Need more proof of his popularity?

On Twitter, there were 9,420 tweets per second referring to Tebow last Sunday when he led the Broncos to an overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to Twitter. That shattered the record of the Women’s FIFA Soccer World Cup (7,196) and beat such news stories as Osama bin Laden’s death (5,106).

“I think it’s for a reason,” CMU graduate assistant football coach Seth Damron said. “There is some more going on than the naked eye perceives. He’s an average quarterback in the league, but is getting a huge amount of attention because he’s a role model we haven’t had in the past few years. He’s a great role model and Christian man. He’s the ultimate competitor even though his skill is not as good as some others.”

The question remains, though, if the success of the Broncos has anything to do with his faith.

“I read a book by former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne,” Damron said. “He made a comment in his book, players playing for a larger purpose have an extra edge. I don’t think faith will do anything but help you.

“God can do what he wants. Does Tim loving God have an effect on the game? I want him to win because he’s walking testament of what I am. God loves the other guys on the team. He loves (Pittsburgh Steelers safety) Troy Polamalu just as much as Tim Tebow.”

Harrison had a slightly different perspective.

“God is not going to help you win a game,” he said. “I pray for courage and to lead my team.”


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