Coach uses baseball to honor Jesus
HANNIBAL – There may still be some snow on the ground and a biting north wind, but that isn’t stopping the Hannibal-LaGrange (HLG) Trojan baseball team and their coach, Clay Biggs, from giving it their all.
Five games into the season, the HLG team is 3-3 and they’re dealing with more than tough opponents.
“We’re going through the typical struggles that a midwestern college baseball team goes through having to deal with the weather,” Biggs said. “We have only practiced outside one time but our guys have worked hard inside and managed to stay very positive.”
Quite possibly, one of the ways they’ve managed to stay positive is through the leadership and example of Coach Biggs in and out of the clubhouse.
“Baseball is the greatest game, no doubt about it,” he said. “The reason is that it is full of failure and adversity. Oftentimes, you can fail more than you succeed and still have a good day. I tell our guys that it is not what happens that matters; it is how you respond to what has happened that makes the difference.”
That life lesson lends itself to easy application off the diamond.
“I feel lucky to be a part of a game that lends itself to developing young men in this way,” Biggs said. “Yelling and screaming is not something that we do here. I don’t think there is any way I can expect my players to keep their head about them if I am constantly losing mine. I think this approach is a good way to integrate Christ’s love into our program. Jesus was a pretty powerful teacher without constantly yelling and screaming. I believe coaching is teaching and what better example to follow than His.”
According to Biggs, the baseball team should always be ready to be an ambassador not just for their sport, but also for their Lord.
“Athletes are typically some of the most visible students on campus so it is only natural for outside perception to be amplified at times,” he said. “We recognize that baseball is a powerful platform that can be used to honor Christ. We encourage our guys to mentor in the community and some of them have started a team Bible study. This improves the outside perception of our team while strengthening the players’ relationships with God.”
A lifelong Royals fan, Biggs’ has pretty much lived his life in the dugout.
“I have always loved baseball,” he said. “I credit where I am today to my dad who has always been the hardest worker I know but was never too busy to have a catch. He was my coach growing up, teaching me more about humility and values than the double play turn and how to hit a curve ball. Although we clashed at times and I wasn’t always as coachable as I should have been, I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.
Biggs said he hasn’t always been as coachable as a Christian, either.
“I came to know Christ at a church camp in junior high but have gone through ups and downs in my faith since that time. Arriving here six years ago jumpstarted my walk with God and it continues to get stronger.
Biggs played college baseball at Truman State University and stayed on as an assistant coach for two years while he finished his master’s degree. After that, he came to HLG where he has been coaching these last six years.
“Coming to HLG has really had a major impact on my faith in a good way,” he said. “I am constantly encouraged by the spiritual atmosphere here. I am honored to work at a place that allows me to have an impact on the spiritual lives of my players while teaching the game I love.”
Biggs will have plenty of opportunities to teach the game he loves, and maybe even in some weather he loves.
This week the team leaves for the Clearwater Invitational Tournament in in warm, sunny Florida.
“We will play nine games in six days,” he said. “It should be a great test for our pitching staff.”