Message tied to athletics

As the placekicker for Marshall University, down time became reflection time for Tyler Warner.

Now the former Parkersburg High School standout is seeking to intertwine God’s message with athletics. For the second consecutive year, he will conduct the Athletes in Action Kicking Camp at Stadium Field.

This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, June 1.

“Last year we had 33 campers,” Warner said. “You learn a whole lot from the first camp, so hopefully we will get more this year.”

The camp staff is a Who’s Who in kicking and longsnapping with University of Pittsburgh kicker Lucas Briggs, along with University of Kentucky punter Landon Foster, long snapper Kelly Mason and former kicker Brian Johnson. Also scheduled to lend their expertise is former Parkersburg South kicker Michael Molinari, who has made a name for himself at West Virginia University.

Ohio State University could have a pair of representatives in punter Ben Buchanan and kicker Drew Basil, along with Virginia Tech kicker Justin Myer and Marshall long snapper Matt Cincotta.

“All these guys are believers and know how to incorporate God in their sport,” Warner said. “What they want to do is just like me, and that is share the gospel.”

The kicking camp actually debuts one week earlier on Saturday, May 25 in Xenia, Ohio. The cost for each camp is $150, which includes lunch and a T-shirt. The cost is reduced to $125 if individuals bring a teammate.

With both weekends, the schedule will start with campers being separated into groups in the morning followed by an exhibition by camp staffers after lunch. A year has passed since Pro Day at Marshall, but Warner feels he can hold his own and will join the exhibition.

Straight competition will highlight the afternoon session.

“(Marshall football coach Doc Holliday) always said competition breeds excellence,” Warner said.

One thing is for sure, spreading the message of God will be a constant.

“We’re not going to force our platform on the campers,” Warner said. “As the brochure reads, it’s a sports ministry. Some might be offended and be pushed away. Some might not be believers, but they still want to learn about kicking.

“My job as a believer is to get it out there and tell people. That’s what God calls us to do.”

For more information on the camp, contact Tyler Warner at 304-481-3708 or email tyler.warner@athletesinaction.org.

As a way to introduce the camp staffers into the community, on the eve of the Parkersburg stop Chick-fil-A restaurant on Grand Central Avenue in Vienna will have Spirit Night dedicated to the Athletes in Action from 5 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, May 31.

For each receipt turned in, 15 percent will goes toward the AIA organization, which is based in Xenia, Ohio. Camp staffers will be in uniform of their respective university.

“Guys like Kelly Mason just accepted Christ last month – they are real young in their faith who want to share,” Warner said. “I’m hoping guys like Drew Basil who are very strong in their faith may be able to share his story and how he incorporates God while he is in the Horseshoe ready to kick a game-winning field goal.”

Contact Kerry Patrick at kpatrick@newsandsentinel.com