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It’s been a blur since I was asked to come up for an in-person interview at the University of Buffalo for a position within the Sports Information/Athletics department. Since accepting the position less than two weeks ago, there was a lot of things that had to happen logistically like buying a car, finding an apartment, and moving up to said apartment.

One of the benefits of living near Buffalo is being close to multiple family members. While it’s sad to move away from home and my home church, Hope Church, it’s exciting being close to relatives who I only usually see once a year. In addition, the area near my apartment and the UB campus itself are beautiful and scenic.

Two days in at my job and I’m already jumping in feet first and getting involved. With my first UB football game this weekend, it’s important to soak it all in and remember where things are for game day. The football team is coming off a big win and is now preparing to face Nevada in their second home game of the season.

When it comes to my job roles, my main role is being the media contact for cross country and track. This means that internal and external media requests go through me and i’m present at all interviews between the media and the players and/or coaches. Additionally, I help out as requested and work every home football game and basketball game.

Each day will be like other days, but at the same time I don’t do the same thing every day and that makes the job fun and interesting. One day I could be writing a press release about the XC team and the next day be designing a graphic in Photoshop. As my time at Buffalo progresses, my duties will also grow as well.

For now, that’s it as I head into day 3 of work at UB. As I spend more time within the Buffalo community, I look forward to making connections at both work, my apartment complex, and around town.

Go Bulls!

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Father. Grandfather. Activity Director. Teacher. Husband. Significant Other. Friend.

Those are just some of the words to describe my grandfather, Philip Kovalchuk. For me, he a grandfather that was down right awesome. From his always positive personality, to putting his family’s needs and wants before his own, to always show love for others, he was always there for his family and others.

Easter Sunday 2013 was a whirlwind day for my family. My aunt and uncle from my dad’s side were visiting for the extended weekend. It seemed like it was going to be a normal Easter celebrating and worshipping the resurrected King, Jesus. However, it didn’t end up that way.

As I was at church helping run the lights for three services, my dad texted me and said they weren’t going to make it because of my aunt’s headache. It seemed reasonable with her getting migraines and bad headaches regularly. Yet, when I got home I was blown away with emotion. In the end, my aunt didn’t have a headache, but something else happened.

“Grandpa passed away.”

To this day, I still remember where I was and when my dad told me this news. These three words hit me hard and still resonate inside me today.

I don’t really know why I took this news so hard. Maybe it is because I am named after my grandfather. Maybe it is because my Dad’s mother passed away the Sunday after Thanksgiving four months previously. Maybe it is because I didn’t make it to my grandmother’s funeral due to other obligations. Maybe it is just because losing a loved one hurts. This is especially true when the deceased loved one was very close to you.

For me, I had a close bond with my grandfather. I looked forward to my family’s yearly trip to see him and other family in Ohio. He taught me many things, including cards, cribbage, respecting others, and many other life lessons. His funny, sarcastic personally is a part of who I am today.

As a school teacher, coach, grandfather, father, friend and many other things, he left a legacy on Earth. This was shown during his calling hours a few days after he passed. Former students from 30 or so years ago came to pay their respects. To me, that showed me that my grandfather’s love and respect for people was not just reserved for his family and close friends. He treated everyone equally.

The world would be a better place if there were more Philip Kovalchuk’s in it today.

A year has gone by since my grandfather left planet Earth. Yet, a moment does not go by without thinking about the impact he had on the life of myself and family. Hopefully, I can learn from grandfather and be just as much as an impact as he was.

Until we meet again, Grandpa Phil. Cheers.

 

 

2014 is off to a fantastic start for myself. I know the same can’t be said about some of my friends, and I hope that whatever they are dealing with is resolved. On Thursday January 16th, I was given the opportunity to report live from the 2014 Major League Soccer SuperDraft at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Before I tell you what went down, let me flashback to who gave me this amazing opportunity and why.

During this past summer, I worked at Messiah College, while interning with USL-PDL side Reading United, who are the Philadelphia Union’s USL-PDL affiliate. Throughout my time with the team, my focus was on writing game recaps, articles highlighting players, and anything else asked of me. My immediate boss Sean Doyle runs the social media and internet side of Reading United.  In the short two or three month period, Sean taught me a lot and my writing improved tremendously.

Of the many great things the program accomplishes, one of them is player development. Year after year, former Reading players are drafted and find success on MLS squads. This year’s draft was no different.

Fast forward back to January 2014. Sean asked me to come cover the draft for Reading. While the original plan had myself, Sean, and Trey Madara, the guy in charge of making videos, all covering the draft, MLS only granted us two press passes. Long story short, Sean and the Reading front office trusted myself and Trey to cover the draft and interview each Reading player taken that day.

Overall, five Reading players were taken that day and three of them were present. Of the three, which included Steve Neumann, Damion Lowe, and Jimmy Ockford. The latter two both landed on the Seattle Sounders.

After the second round ended, it was time to head into high gear and write out what happened for the team’s website. That can be seen here. As an aside, rounds 3 and 4 took place Tuesday, and two more Reading alums were drafted.

While it was great to cover the draft, it was possible I wasn’t going to do. Sean and the Reading Front office could have easily not trusted in me. However, they did and it paid off. My summer experience and now the draft representing them have been great teaching moments. It seems like I may be heading back up to Reading this Summer, but the retails are in the works.

My time with Reading has revealed some things as well. Among them, it showed that I have a burning passion for sports, specifically soccer, and that I love sharing this passion through the many stories I write.

All in all, Sean, Reading GM Art Auchenbach, and the rest of the front office deserve my thanks for allowing myself, their intern, to bring the news to their valuable fans. As an aspiring sports writer, the connections I am making now will help me in the future as I try to find a job out of college. Lastly, as Reading United develops their players on the field, Sean and Art are helping to improve and develop my writing skills.

For more coverage on Reading’s player being drafted:

Community

It’s been a very long time since I have blogged, but I think it is very important to get back into the swing of it.

Community is a big part of Messiah College’s philosophy and mission for its student. There’s a class called Created and Call for Community (CCC) that all first-years and transfers must take. While a portion of the student body didn’t like the class and joke around about how the word community is used often at Messiah, there is a good reason why it is.

Each floor, each dorm hall, each class, each sports team, each student organization is a micro community within the larger community of the macro community of Messiah College. Towards the end of August, the Messiah fall athletic programs moved back in early for a week or so of pre-season training. In case you didn’t know, I worked on campus all summer cleaning up after the various Summer visitors.  Anyway I decided to go watch the men’s soccer team (MMS) run their mile run. In short the team ran the mile in two groups. While the one ran, the other group cheered on the running group.

That’s what really struck me. The other group could have just stood there silently preparing to run their mile next. But that’s not what happened. They cheered and encouraged each other as their teammates aimed to run the expected mile time. Moreover, when both groups ran and completed their mile, the team didn’t just walk off alone and disappear, but they hugged and high-fived each other in celebration.

This event directly relates to their team Bible verse. MMS’ team verse is Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” In my two years going on three years, I’ve seen the team live authentic lives on and off the soccer pitch. Personally some of these players and I have grown spiritually and in friendship together. Additionally, they have been some of my biggest supporters and encouragers. While I don’t play soccer like they do, they still care about me.

MMS values the importance of community within their own athletic team and among others in the student body. To them, Proverbs 27:17 isn’t just printed on their shirt, but a verse that is printed on their life.

We mess up and we will fail. However, living amongst a community of believers and together as one in Christ, we can grow, fall, and learn together about God and ourselves.

On that Friday night, I learned a lot not just about myself, but my fellow peers on the soccer team. No matter whether they are on the practice field, the classroom, the lunchroom, running the mile, or match day, this team is an authentic example of true Christian community.

It’s an inspiring example to see and be inspired by. On that Friday night, I was inspired by community.

If there is any way I can pray for you or encourage you, feel free to comment below.

In Christ,

Phil

 

Dear Josh Ritter,

Posted: May 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

theperfectgray

Dear Josh Ritter, I heard you played here at Messiah on Friday night, and that you had a few things to say upon reading our community covenant. The second-hand accounts I heard from fellow students made my stomach turn a little, so I checked out your official post about it later to see for myself. Some of your comments included:

“Messiah College requires all students to sign a ‘Community Covenant’ promising to, among other things, ‘avoid such sinful practices as…homosexual behavior…’ This policy, which I see as exclusionary and bigoted, could not run more counter to my personal beliefs… I did play at Messiah College tonight, and I chose to use the opportunity to talk to the students – to encourage them to seek openness and change. I spoke honestly about my personal views… I won’t play Messiah College again – not until they welcome, in word and deed, all members of their…

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After seeing the Messiah College Christ Preeminent sign as you come onto campus, the next thing most see are the words see anew. You will in fact see it around campus. “See Anew” is a part of the ad campaign and is talked about at every Messiah College Open House.

Anew is defined as a new form or manner, so seeing anew would be seeing things in a new manner or developing a new opinion. Over my almost two years at Messiah, I have definitely seen anew. I have grown as a person spiritually, intellectually, and physically. It has been a great time of discussing faith, Christianity, among other topics. Discussion and conversation is great when it is not filled with judgment, hatred, or provincial thoughts, but rather support, openness, and honesty. My friends and I might not agree eye to eye on each theological point or belief, but that does not mean we can discuss peacefully and learn from each other.

So far as my sophomore year comes to an end, I am reminded of the great times I have had seeing anew. Messiah has been a great place for me to learn from other students, professors and other staff members. Respectful discussion about Jesus, the Church, Christianity, and what it means to be a true follower of Christ are great. Let us always remember that we don’t have all the answers, and we can learn about Jesus, God and other things from others.

We all wrestle and struggle with different things at different points in our lives, but having discussion allows us to see anew like Messiah advertises. I have seen anew, and I know others around me have as well.

Currently in my Christian Spirituality class we are reading Doug Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz. In the author’s note, Miller talks about Jazz Music. “I never liked Jazz Music because it never resolved…I saw a man playing saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes. After that I liked Jazz Music. Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It as if they are showing you the way.”

By having conversation about our faith and seeing anew, I hope that my love for Jesus and being a true follower is evident in those I have conversations with. I hope this is the same for you that your actions show your love of God to others and others start to see your love of God and others. Through Christ we can share God’s love and help see anew.

Blessings,

Phil

Lately in my life with the interactions that I have had with others, it seems like people have forgotten about one of the most important things about Jesus and the Church. That being grace. They might not be forgetting that God’s grace is enough and He loves us no matter what.
Personally what I haven’t seen and what I haven’t seen lately is God’s Grace in our own actions. Lately I’ve seen very judgmental people who think they are better than someone else because of a mistake that person. In reality, we are all sinners, we all mess up, and we all need God’s grace.
What if we chose to live our love out by showing God’s grace in our own actions? Personally I think it would arch more enjoyable place where we feel more free to make a mistake and not be chewed out and judged for it. Proverbs 22:11 says it well.

Onewho loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend. (Proverbs 22:11 NIV)

Let’s try to show more grace to others, which is unconditional and doesn’t depend on something else. That’s my challenge for you, myself and the Church. Let it transform you and allow you to show God’s grace and love through your actions.

God bless
Phil