Jaelyn Maladdie

I always had strong faith and was also an athlete, but I never thought to bring the two together until the Institute, and that really helped form my life.



Why did you attend the program?

Originally, our head coach called the leaders of the team, those who were going to be the captains of next year’s team, to tell us about the Faith and Sport Institute (FSI): Running the Race Well at Baylor and how he thought it would be great to help us develop our leadership skills. He really urged us to apply for it. I became very excited about it when they reached out to me and offered me a scholarship. I could tell they wanted me to attend. 

There were decisions and questions I was struggling with prior to the program. I had a position change in football from freshman to sophomore year, and another from sophomore to junior year, and I was being heavily recruited in my new position junior year. For the senior season, my coach asked me to go back to my original position and said that’s what the team really needed me to be. I was struggling with that decision because I knew it would hurt my recruiting a lot to change back. Going into the Faith and Sport Institute really helped me learn more and make that decision.


How was your experience during the event? 

This was an experience that I will never get over. Going in, I had a cousin and two childhood friends with me, and they were the only people I knew. I was really scared, but we all became a big family. The family environment we created made us all trust each other. Two days in, people were crying, expressing their emotions and not holding anything back. They were being vulnerable. Having that atmosphere and that family feeling is an experience I can never get over.

At other church and sports camps I’ve been to, we really didn’t have time to have fun with friends and get to know each other and be vulnerable, but at FSI it wasn’t just about learning the Bible, it was about applying Christianity to our sport, and that helped me make my life one. I always had strong faith and was also an athlete, but I never thought to bring the two together until the Institute, and that really helped form my life.


What were some of the changes you noticed after?

At the Institute, all of our teams had to find focal points in the beginning. I thought of “Look to the hills from whence cometh my help,” and that became my team’s focal point. Whenever things got hard during the camp, I would say “Look to the hills.” All of the other teams, mentors and camp leaders were doing this as well, and after the Institute I found myself continuing to do this. When things got hard I just kept telling myself that.

We were also taught to invite God on to the playing field. Afterwards, I would find myself praying before every game and inviting God on to the playing field with me, and I feel like that really was a change in me and was one of the bigger changes I made from the camp.


What did you learn about yourself, the world, or ministry at this time?

I learned for myself that when things get hard to look to the hills, like I previously mentioned. We also did the homeless simulation at the Institute, and through that I learned more about the world and realized that not everyone has the same opportunities, chances and luxuries that I have. That experience changed my view of the world. 

I also learned to make my sports ministry and my Christian ministry one, and to make myself one with this ministry. This helped me once I came to college. I came to play football but realized after a few weeks that playing football was not something I really wanted to do. I leaned hard on my training from camp and what I learned about love and hope, which helped me make my decision to end my football career and focus on my Christian ministry, and to feel good about that decision.


Do you feel better equipped for the future after attending? 

Yes, and I actually still have my pamphlet where we took notes about love, hope, faith and learned about having a magnanimous soul. It helped me do an inner check and now I feel like I’m more strong in my faith, knowing that I am who I am and knowing that God will always be there to stand beside me.


What was the best thing about attending?

The best thing about attending to me was The Great Race, although it was the most grueling thing I’ve done. The Great Race is a three-mile obstacle course for athletic training, but it also combined faith and spirituality. We all had to carry a wooden cross together, just like Jesus carried the cross, and all teammates had to have their hands on it while we traveled. It definitely was my favorite part because of the team atmosphere. Being able to compete with other Christians, going through that and holding the cross together, not being able to leave your teammates behind and having to find a common pace, traveling through the different steps that Jesus traveled through, was all amazing. And my team actually won which I loved. It helped me learn more about discipline as well.


How have you engaged in ministry since the program, or how do you plan to be engaged in ministry in the future? 

After the program ended I went into my senior year, and I became the financial secretary for my church’s district organization. After I graduated, I decided I wanted to continue my ministry and run for president of our state’s organization. Over the next five months of the campaign I was constantly being questioned about why I wanted to do this. This was around the same time I decided to focus on continuing my ministry outside of the sports realm. I lost the election by two votes, but I was appointed first vice-president, so I continued my ministry that way. Before COVID-19, I was also able to teach elementary Sunday school at my church. 

My ministry is teaching his word to my age group, and trying to let them know that he will always be there for them. I am getting more into his word and studying the book of Samuel, and I think my calling is to continue to stand and profess his word.


What advice would you give to someone who wanted to attend?

Definitely attend! Don’t let your thoughts hinder you from experiencing the camp. The first day is hard, but experience it to the fullest. Don’t be scared to be vulnerable - it makes the camp better. Take in everything you can and the entire experience. Give it a try! It’s worth it.


Is there anything else you’d like people to know?

The camp experience helped a lot with my leadership skills and qualities I needed, both in sports and in life. It helped me become a better co-captain in high school and lead my team to a championship with my teammates. I was able to teach my teammates many of the principles I learned at camp.