How do you get over 300 teenagers to sit quietly? Teach them a little bit about the love of God in Jesus and then let them wail away on each other with small red rubber balls for a few hours.
That’s just what happened at the 6th annual Young Life Dodge Ball tournament held earlier this week where 36 teams (24 boy / 12 girl) from High Schools all across the Roanoke Valley competed for a trophy and “Valley Champion” status for a year.
The winning boys team was from North Cross, “Team North Cross Two” (there wasn’t a North Cross One; don’t ask) consisted of: Kyle Fraser, George Revercomb, Paul Ross, Tommy Girani, Austin Criss, Sam Lawrence, Chris Shelton and Alex Strain.
The winning girls team was from Cave Spring. “Team Kendall” (named in honor of Kendall Bayne and her fight with cancer) consisted of: Shannon Craighead, Sarah Smith, Erin Holsinger, Kelli Long, Annice Link, Kendall Scott, Lauren Sledd, Morgan Shannon, Kelsey Sine, Olivia Sass and Kallie Wilkes.
Teams also had to come with a costume and there was an award for the best uniform.
After all teams had completed their first two matches, play was stopped and everyone gathered on the court. Josh Goodman, a Young Life leader at Patrick Henry High School spoke for about 5 minutes on “What is Young Life?”
“Young Life is about fun, friendships and a person,” said Goodman. “We like to have a lot of fun… We meet people who become lifelong friends in Young Life… and we talk about Jesus. We think he’s what life is about. So, in a non-threatening environment, we challenge kids to take a closer look at Jesus, no pressure. We’re convinced he holds the key to living life to the full and with real purpose and meaning. And we believe kids have a right to hear who they are and whose they are. And the neat thing about YL is, kids can take or leave it. Young Life leaders still show up and think the world of them… We don’t stop running after kids based on their opinions about Jesus…”
After the informational talk the games resumed and everyone enjoyed watching one another get pelted in the head with dodge balls.
Young Life has been around for over 70 years and is in every state and in about 80 countries. The group was started in Texas in 1941 by a youth pastor named Jim Rayburn who wondered why kids were either not coming to church or bored when they came. Young Life has been in Roanoke for over 30 years and has active groups at Hidden Valley, Cave Spring, Patrick Henry, Salem, Botetourt County Floyd County, Hidden Valley Middle, Cave Spring Middle and has a chapter starting up in Franklin County soon. They also have a Young Life group for kids with disabilities called Capernaum.
Andy Fetzer has been directing Young Life for 15 years – the last 4 here in Roanoke. For more information call him at 540-226-6009 or go to: www.roanoke.younglife.org