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Smoke Mizzell

"I believe there are three phases of football – physical, of course, mental, and then there’s spiritual. We, as players, are a huge part of the physical aspect, our coaches are the mental component, and our Chaplain is the spiritual. FCA helped me grow as a person which translated in every area of my life, especially football. It has enabled me to keep my faith in all situations, stay positive, and trust that God always has my back."-- Smoke Mizzell

Chaplaincy doesn’t end with graduation. It actually can extend well beyond an athlete’s time at school as in the case of Taquan “Smoke“ Mizzell, a 2017 graduate of the University of Virginia. When I first met him, like everyone who watched this talented running back, I was amazed by his speed and athleticism, but what intrigued me most was his hunger for the Word of God. I had my first opportunity to meet with him when he was a recruit.

Over the next four years, I watched him grow as a student, athlete, and Christian man. One afternoon, during training camp, Smoke and another running back met with me for Bible study. Here's what we read:

“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step.” 1 Corinthians 9: 24-26

As we read this passage, I remember Smoke’s reaction when he saw and heard the scripture about running with purpose and running to win. It resonated with him deeply. He sat back with a Bible in his lap, looked at his teammate, looked at me, smiled with wide-eyed amazement and said, “Wow, that’s deep.”

I visited with Smoke over the summer in Baltimore, brought him an FCA Bible and reminded him of our days in Bible study. He responded joyfully and affectionately and made a point to let me know that he was already in relationship with his new chaplain, Johnny Shelton, with the Ravens. One of the more gratifying experiences in chaplaincy is to see your athletes grow in their faith and develop professionally within their sport. I felt like a quarterback handing off to the running back as he scores a touchdown when Smoke, his new chaplain and I met together at the Ravens’ offices.

Because of your prayers, influence and financial support of FCA UVA, I’m able to impact the lives of student-athletes while they’re at the University of Virginia and after they move into their professions.

This is fruit that abounds to your account. Thank you.

Best Day Ever,

George Morris, Chaplain/Director FCA UVA