[Vince Koza column. You have logo for him]
Ohio Northern’s team chaplain Randy Davis was doing his usual pre-game chapel with the Polar Bears football team last Saturday.
He has been the ONU team chaplain for the past 10 years.
But this would be no ordinary Saturday for Pastor Davis.
Saturday night he would have the opportunity to do team chapel for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
And it’s something that the pastor of Lima’s First Assembly of God Church says he will never forget.
Let me take you back 10 years ago when Pastor Randy met then Ohio Northern football standout Jason Trusnik.
The two had struck up a friendship, but the friendship became a special bond after Trusnik’s grandpa had died.
Pastor Randy traveled to the Cleveland area to visit the Trusnik family and offer support.
It is something that Jason never forgot.
“Pastor Randy was there for me and my brother (Lenny), and to go through some of your toughest times, and to know someone has your back, well it certainly created a bond for us,” Trusnik told me.
The two have been in constant contact ever since.
When Jason was elevated from the practice squad and was about to make his NFL debut with the New York Jets, it was Pastor Randy that he called the night before.
Jason has been calling Pastor Randy on the eve of his NFL games for the past seven years now.
“It is always a great conversation that ends with a prayer,” says Pastor Randy.
Recently, Jason told Pastor Randy that he was going, “to make one of your dreams come true,” asking his current team-the Miami Dolphins-if Davis could do chapel for the club on the eve of their opening game last Sunday in Cleveland.
“Jason knew that I had talked to football players at every level, from midgets, to high school to college, to Arena Football League and the Columbus Destroyers. The NFL was the only thing missing and he made it happen for me,” Pastor Randy recalled.
So after doing his usual Saturday morning chapel in Ada with the Polar Bears, Pastor Randy and his son made the trek to Cleveland.
“It was funny that when the hotel lady directed me to where she thought I should be, it was the Catholic room and they were ready for a Mass. I thought it was appropriate in a way because Jason comes from a Catholic background and has called me “Father” several times before,” laughed Pastor Randy.
When he finally got to the right room, there were nearly two dozen Dolphins players and coaches in attendance for the chapel. Miami Head Coach Joe Philbin introduced himself to Pastor Randy. “He was great to me and my son, chiding me about being Jason’s Pastor, telling me that he coached with Dean Paul (ONU’s head coach) when both were at Allegheny. Talk about a class act.”
Pastor Randy didn’t recognize many of the players. He did see Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who sat in the front row, and Jason was right next to him.
Pastor Randy spoke to the players and coaches for nearly 20 minutes. He talked to the team about making, “this year the greatest season in your life ever. And the most important thing we can do is put Christ first in your life and to make room in your everyday life for him. And to make sure you read his book, the Bible. “
“Just a pretty simple message and a message of encouragement, too,” Pastor Randy thought, “but also a crazy and cool experience for sure.”
What followed is what made the experience even more special.
After chapel, each of the Dolphins players and coaches came up to Pastor Randy and his son, introducing themselves and thanking him for the message.
“They were just real guys. What a class organization.”
Jason had a chance to spend time with Pastor Randy, too. And then the next day. Pastor Randy and his family were guests of the Dolphins and watched the game live from First Energy Stadium.
“I am actually a Browns fan,” Pastor Randy says. But for this weekend, it was hard not to pull for the Dolphins.
Amen, Pastor Randy.
And what I really love is that Jason Trusnik remembers where he is from.
And how he made a dream come true for a Lima church pastor and his son, how great is that?
Amen, Jason Trusnik.
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